Managing Anxiety

I think that these are appropriate times to again think about managing anxiety.  Whether our worries are global, about economics, the world or politics, or closer to home, such as our jobs, beginning school, our families and ourselves, almost everyone I know (in my personal life as well as my clinical practice) seems to be in a state of anxiety.  So, here are some brief thoughts on the topic.

Anxiety, at its core, is a fear reaction.  It is an expectation of danger.  When you wait for the doctor to call with test results, the moment the phone rings, your stomach tightens and you hold your breath.  You are afraid that the phone will carry dangerous news and you react accordingly.  The answer to worry can’t be, “Don’t visit the doctor” or “don’t answer the phone.” 

What is the answer?  There is no quick and easy answer but here are some tips to manage anxiety:

 1. Recognize the signals of anxiety or worry in your body and mind.

            (feeling edgy, irritable, experiencing muscle tension, trouble concentrating)

2. Ask yourself, “What am I afraid of?”

(be thoughtful, honest, and specific)

3. Ask yourself, “Is there anything that I can do about my worries?”

            (sometimes yes, sometimes no)

 Sometimes, you must sit with uncertainty.  While you sit, you may want to: breathe, talk to trusted people, get enough sleep, eat regular meals, get some exercise, participate in an activity that engages your mind, and be grateful.

If you are a clinical supervisor, professor, or early career therapist, you will find my newest book, “What Do I Say?” to be an essential addition to your professional library.

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