I’ve often been asked about Therapy for Worrying in my Sherman Oaks office.
Do you drive yourself crazy playing the “What if” game? Do you try to foresee every possible catastrophe in order to head it off? If you find it difficult to relax, are easily angered, irritable and always three steps ahead of yourself, you are not alone, there is therapy for worrying.
We live in a culture that promotes “productivity”. Difficulties present in the economy may be at the source of some of this imbalance. Activity is at an all time high and we are paying a high price for not having enough “down time” Some of the valuable family meal time and opportunities to check in with each other in a relaxed manner have been lost. Time spent chatting with a neighbor improves the emotional atmosphere of a community. Children are overscheduled.
The cost involves loss on many levels. It affects the quality of relationships, family bonding, mental and physical health. If there is no escape from the “buzz” of intense, pressure filled activity, quite often, people feel justified in indulging in some excessive rewarding behavior at the end of it all. In a desperate effort to relieve the anxiety, people may use a bit too much alcohol, overeat, overspend or become addicted to computer games. The effects of the excessive behavior then causes stress on family and marital relationships and it becomes a vicious cycle.
Here are three ways to manage the anxiety that comes from dealing with our day to day stress.
- Self Care
- Setting up a support network
Remember the basics that your mother taught you. Get enough sleep, eat your vegetables, take your vitamins and everything in moderation. Get your annual physicals so that should some health change occur, you have the best chance at accessing treatment at an early stage and oftentimes preventing a more serious problem. Get exercise, spend time with loved ones and have fun! Laughter really is good medicine as it actually changes brain chemistry, relaxes muscles and promotes healing. Let your anxiety be a signal that you are needing more self care.
Remember that you cannot do it all! Make a list of things to do daily, beginning with the absolute “non-negotiables”. In other words, things that must be done and then you can work your way down to activities that are optional and could possibly wait for another day. Make your list at a time when you are most relaxed so that you can think clearly. Also, be realistic about how much time it takes to complete things and don’t forget to schedule in breaks.
If you are having difficulty deciding which things to let go of, then ask yourself the following question to ascertain whether you are placing too much importance on a task. ” At the end of my life, how important will it be whether I have completed this task?”
Sort of puts getting to the cleaners in perspective, doesn’t it?
Create and Nurture a Support System
Having people around to both commiserate as well as to celebrate with us helps to lessen anxiety. Nurture relationships that support both personally as well as professionally. Sometimes we go through changes in relationships where people are not as accessible. In that case, it is sometimes helpful to contact a therapist for some brief assistance during that period. And above all, remember one important fact. Most people in our culture at this time are experiencing some anxiety related to the pressures of a faltering economy. The good news is that “We are not alone”.