Simple Steps to Calm Yourself from Anxiety
By Martin Novell, MFT

Do fear and worry permeate your life? Well, it may be that stress and anxiety is your problem…and you are not alone. Research conducted by the National Institute of Mental Health has shown that "anxiety disorders” are the number one mental health problem among American women… second only to alcohol and drug abuse among men."

We are living in anxious times. Many of us worry about money or job stability and may be tossing and turning in bed at night, robbing ourselves of both physical and emotional energy. We have all tried coping strategies to lessen these uncomfortable feelings of anxiety. - taking a well-deserved vacation, working out, listening to music, watching television - things that take you away from the day-to-day stress and to help you relax. We know how a good book or a great movie allows us to go into another world.

However, when these strategies don't create the change we want or only become short term solutions, we might have to learn new skills. Here are six ways to become more at peace with yourself and the world around you, because living with anxiety does not have to be a way of life.

1. Dwell on the good news.  When we dwell on the one or two negative things that happened and define the whole day as ruined - even when 99 percent of the day has been just fine - we are feeding our anxiety. There is always another day to right what is wrong.

2. Eliminate catastrophic thinking.  In an attempt to control every aspect of the future, we head into anxious territory, wondering “What if… This happens… what if that happens?” this type of thinking paralyzes us.

3. Stop mind reading.  Have you assumed that you know what someone else is thinking?  Unless you have been told by a person what they feel about your work performance or whether or not they enjoyed last weekend’s  date… don’t make judgments based on your own assessment of what they might be feeling. Ask!

4. Allow for gray areas.  Living within the extremes, believing that people, events or situations are good or bad, negative or positive, doesn’t allow for the fact that one negative remark or experience does not define an entire situation. Nothing is perfect.

5. Stop exaggerating.  Making strong statements about mistakes such as “I always… or you always do that,” puts a lot of pressure on people and your expectations of them to never mess up.

6. Feelings are not facts.  Just because you feel a certain way does not mean that everyone else does. Just because you think you have been disrespected, dismissed, disregarded and not listened to, doesn’t mean you have. Learn what’s stopping you from having a conversation which will clear up the negative thoughts you have. It will make you feel good. At the very least you will have a better understanding of the people and situations around you.


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