9 Strategies for Overcoming Worry and Anxiety
Anxiety is defined as a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome. It’s your body’s reaction to stress. It’s that feeling in the pit of your stomach on the first day of school. It’s also the feeling you get when you know you have to give a speech in an hour.
Worrying is not productive, contrary to popular belief. It has actually been said that worrying is like sitting in a rocking chair, while there’s a lot of movement involved, you don’t go anywhere. No one has ever “worried” bad weather away. Anxiety and worry are a major cause of unhappiness and poor health.
While everyone worries from time to time, the good news is that anxiety and worry are under our control. You can stop worrying whenever you truly decide to put an end to it. Besides the queasy feeling in your stomach, anxiety has serious emotional and physical implications too. Some of the effects of anxiety include insomnia, sweating, fatigue, shortness of breath, high blood pressure, rapid heart rate, hyperventilation, headaches, dizziness and panic attacks.
Long-term risks include digestive disorders, heart disease and immune system suppression, which can lead to a variety of illnesses from the common cold to the flu or even cancer. Sometimes, simple strategies are enough. These are some quick and easy techniques that will take the edge off the worry and anxiety in your life.
- Ask yourself if you can do something about it. Many worries are beyond your ability to influence but if you can do something about your concern, by all means, do it. However, many of our worrisome situations can’t be solved. An example includes the health issues of a family member, the weather for the school’s 10-year reunion next week, whether or not you’ll get that promotion during the next meeting, whether or not someone likes you, whether or not your child had a good day at school today, politics (especially in this day and age), your sports team’s performance. The list is endless. You have less influence on your environment than you think. Remind yourself that worrying about these types of items is pointless.
- Rest More. Lack of sleep only makes anxiety issues worse. Your body produces many of the same chemicals while fatigued as it does when you’re stressed. The conditions are very similar. An extra hour of sleep each night can make a big difference. A nap can be helpful, too.
- Find a Distraction. If worry and anxiety are getting the best of you, try distracting yourself. You might think that won’t solve much. True, but will worrying? You may as well enjoy yourself as much as possible in the meantime.
- Adopt powerful body language. Strong, powerful body language can change your mood and attitude. Try standing like a powerful person that has control over his life.
- Head up
- Stand or sit up straight
- Chest out
- Slight smile
- Take up space
- Have a strong handshake
- Good eye contact
- Watch a few movies with powerful, confident characters and notice how they stand and move
The Good Old Laugh. You have a couple of memories or stories that always make you laugh when you think about them or share them. Have these memories ready to go at a moment’s notice. Who is the funniest person you know? Spend more time with them when you’re feeling stressed. What TV shows or movies always make you laugh? Do you have access to them? Are there any YouTube videos you find funny? Save them so you have access to them at any time. Who are your favorite comedians?
- Put a Clock on Your Worrying Time. Does worrying make you feel a little better? Okay, worry away. But, you can only worry for 30 minutes! Plan your worrying time in advance. Put it on your calendar and really work up to it. Set a timer and have at it. Ensure that you don’t worry until your designated time. If you start worrying before, catch yourself and say, “I’ll worry tomorrow at 5PM. It’s on my calendar!”
- Don’t Assume! Many of our problems, fears, and worries are the result of assumptions. Why assume that things are going to go poorly? Why not just assume things will go well? Neither will affect the outcome, but you’ll enjoy your life more if you have positive expectations. Assumptions can also cause anxiety in other ways. We assume that someone doesn’t like us. Or we assume that we’ll never find a better job. We assume that nothing we try will work, so why try at all? Rather than make assumptions, why not give yourself a chance and see what actually happens?
- Say NO. Worry, stress, and anxiety are the common result of an inability to refuse requests. We over promise and over commit. We often even commit to doing things that violate our values and personal priorities. When you can say no, you’re setting boundaries that protect your time, energy, and sanity. Be honest and tell people that you don’t have the time.
- Prepare For The Worst. What’s the worst case scenario? It can be helpful to imagine the worst possible outcome and prepare for it. The worst possible outcome likely won’t happen, but if you have a plan to deal with it, you can relax. You’re already covered.
Like all emotions, anxiety and worry are physical sensations that you experience. Accept that worry is just an uncomfortable feeling in your body. You don’t have to change your life plans or avoid certain activities because you have a mosquito bite on your arm. You wouldn’t allow that to stop you from doing anything. Never discount simple techniques without giving them a trial run. You could save yourself a lot of time.