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Mental Health

4 Ways to Manage Stress and Anxiety

There are numerous self-help books on the topic of stress and anxiety — so many, in fact, that having to choose a book might lead you to feel anxious about picking the right one. But, worry not (a funny statement in a stress management article) as here are some tips for chronic worriers to start using right away to help manage their stress levels.

1. Pick a worry time

Your worrying has never helped anyone or made anything better for anybody. But from 8 to 8:30 p.m., for example, you can worry all you want about anything you want to. For all other times, carry a notebook with you or use your phone to record things to worry about, and then at 8 p.m. you can worry about all those things for half an hour — and then do it all over again the next night.

2. Create a “worry journal”

If you have a worrier in your home who asks you the same questions all the time, create a worry journal for them. Write down the questions, and then write down the answers. If they ask you the question again, point to the worry journal and have them read the answer. This will save you time and energy, and you will lessen the frustrations of constant reassurance seeking.

3. Recognize safety seeking behaviors

If you want to overcome your stress, then start to identify when you are using safety seeking behaviors. Realize when you are avoiding everything that you are afraid of, with the goal of never interacting with a stressor again in your life. Recognize when you ask everyone you know to reassure you that you will be okay at all times and that nothing bad will ever happen to you. If you do have to face a fear, see if you try to distract yourself from paying attention to the problem bothering you, whether that’s by using your phone, playing a game or watching TV.

4. Be proactive

Go out and face your fears. (How can you overcome the fear of an elevator without ever getting on an elevator?) Do the things you have been avoiding. And be sure to do these things on your own without everyone telling you that you will be okay. Teach yourself that you will be okay. Besides, your friends and family do not have psychic powers to tell you how the future will go, so their telling you that you will be okay is just a guess anyway. Finally, face your fears fully with no distractions. Keep your phone in your pocket and do not rely on muscle relaxation or breathing techniques to get you through an experience. Go and do it, live through it, and learn from the experience of facing your fear.

And remember, if you need help with your stress or to complete these suggestions, seek assistance from a professional.

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