Worry Free Anxiety

AnxietyCartoon

 

Thank Goodness for Anxiety!

 

If it weren’t for anxiety, we wouldn’t be here.  Anxiety keeps us out of harm’s way, prepares us for major incidents and serves as a call to action!

 

So why does it have such a bad wrap?  Well, if anxiety is chronic, and feels out of control and overwhelming, it can be disabling.  When that happens, it goes from being “anxiety” to an “anxiety disorder.”  Anxiety disorders are the most common of psychiatric diagnoses; they are also conditions for which professional treatment is very effective.

What’s disappointing is that the vast majority of people with problematic anxiety often go without effective treatment.  Instead, they enlist common strategies that actually make anxiety persist, or even get worse.  While these strategies may feel as though they are working, and they may in the short run, they prolong recovery.  Some examples of these are:

 

Avoiding:  Avoiding anxiety-provoking situations limits your activities and prevents you from learning how to handle what bothers you.

Reassurance Seeking:  Constantly checking in with others to make sure everything is OK robs you of developing ways to handle uncertainty on your own.

Distraction:  Frequently shifting your focus to other things can give you a false sense that you need those distractions to feel at ease.

What’s more, many people think that they have to worry about all that can go wrong, thinking that if they stay hypervigilant they can prevent bad things from happening or catch them early.  Law enforcement culture can reinforce hypervigilant even further.

Unfortunately, all this worrying comes at a cost.  It can not only affect your mental health, but also your physical health.  Chronic worriers are more likely to have irritable bowel syndrome, nausea, fatigue, aches, and numerous other physical health problems than those who manage anxiety well.  Fortunately, anxiety is also one of the most treatable conditions, and there are numerous ways to reduce excessive worrying on your own.

NewYorkerAnxietyCartoon

 

6 Steps to Arrest Anxiety and Worry

1.  Make a list of your worries
2.  Determine if your worries are productive or unproductive.

    • Productive worries are about problems that have a high likelihood of occurring.  To reduce or eliminate productive worries, simply take action.  Even a few small steps towards preventing the problem will help reduce your anxiety.
    • Unproductive worries usually come in the form of “What if ________ happens?”  The problem with what-ifs is that stye are like a bottomless pit.  You can always worry about even the remotest possibility of something bad happening.  To counter unproductive worries, learn how to better accept uncertainty especially with low probability events.

3.  Do the things that make you uncomfortable or anxious until they lose their power (this is the opposite of avoiding anxiety-provoking situations).  Repeated exposure often leads to habituation.
4.  Differentiate between those things that are truly urgent and those that can wait.  You can’t treat everything like an emergency.
5.  Remember that we often blow the consequences of a fear way out of proportion.  Usually we are able to handle problems much better than we might think.
6.  Talk about it.  Don’t stay in you head with your concerns.  Speaking to a friend, colleague, or a professional can help you gain a better, more balanced, perspective on your concerns.

 

For more detailed information, contact BSS at 213-252-3090 or visit these sites:

APA Anxiety

 

ADAA