People with anxiety disorders often face a sense of worry or dread and spend hours ruminating over worst case scenarios, which can get in the way of professional goals, personal relationships and a good quality of life. But there are ways to cope.
Here, experts offer their best techniques to work through situations that might drum up anxiety, which may help you or someone you know keep worry or fear at bay:
1. Put your worrisome thoughts on a schedule.
If you are going about your day and notice anxious thoughts, identify the thought stream and then postpone thinking about it until later, Ricks Warren, a clinical associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Michigan, told The Huffington Post. Warren calls this technique “worry postponement” or a “worry scheduling” skill, which can be very effective.
For example, you might be at a movie and find yourself becoming anxious about an upcoming work presentation. To postpone and schedule, pause and metaphorically put that whole worry on a shelf. Say to yourself, “I’m not at work right now. I will think about this tomorrow at the office.”
Later on, when it is time to consider what was making you feel anxious, you might consider discussing the issue with someone you trust.
2. Develop a “catastrophe scale.”
Draw a line on a piece of paper. Write the number zero at the beginning of the line, 50 in the middle and 100 at the end. This is what Warren calls a “catastrophe scale.” Then ask yourself, “What are the worst possible things that could happen?” Write those things down on the side with the highest values.
“When you think about a child dying, or a terrible accident, it helps people put things in perspective,” Warren said. “Not everything gets a 100.”
Being late for a job interview or a blunder at a party are unfortunate events. But, as Warren hopes you’ll come to believe, they’re not scenarios you should be terribly hard on yourself about in the scheme of things.
The goal for the rating system is that you eventually break down what you’d need to do in order to cope with it. This could be rallying a supportive group of friends, making a phone call or simply working out to reduce your stress and let it go.
– Allison Fox
Read more: 7 Psychiatrist-Backed Tips To Help You Manage Anxiety
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