Feeling anxious? From piling bills to your hectic schedule, a lot can make you uneasy. Start breathing a bit easier because these simple strategies can quiet your racing mind. Ahh, that's better.
The psychologist says…Know when to get help
If anxiety starts interfering with your life (you're avoiding social situations or having panic attacks, for example), then consider treatment. Anxiety responds well to non-pill methods, such as cognitive behavioral therapy, where a therapist teaches you to examine your thoughts and reframe them. So if talking to strangers stresses you out, your therapist may suggest approaching someone you don't know at a party and starting a conversation as practice. Often, it will go better than expected, which means you can say to yourself: "Despite my anxiety, most times when I talk to a new person it feels OK." Medication may be necessary if worries continue, but addressing the root cause rather than suppressing symptoms will serve you better in the long run.
LUANA MARQUES, PhD, assistant professor, Harvard Medical School, and author, Almost Anxious.
The alternative medicine practitioner says…Do a mini-meditation once a day
It's no secret that meditation is good for quieting the mind, and today, more therapists are integrating elements of the practice into their work with patients. Two important tools you can use are being more accepting of how things are in the moment and practicing self-compassion by replacing negative thoughts ("I'm going to fail") with something more upbeat ("I'm doing my best" or "This will all work out"). Accompanying this positive self-talk with deep breathing can prevent thoughts from spiraling out of control, so do this exercise once a day (or whenever a stressful situation arises): Inhale deeply for four counts, then exhale for the same length of time. As you breathe in and out, focus on a positive thought. Repeat for a few minutes and you'll start to feel calmer.
ADAM BURKE, PhD, professor of health education and director, Institute for Holistic Health Studies, San Francisco State University, and author, Self-Hypnosis
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