Understanding & Managing Your Anxiety

December 9, 2014

Understanding & Managing Your Anxiety
By: Dr. Michelle Chaban

Do you feel anxious or overwhelmed? Are you always thinking about the “what if’s?” Anxiety is something we all experience from time to time but when it takes over or interferes with our ability to function, it can become debilitating. Here are some tips for managing anxiety tips that can make a difference.

• Carve out time for worrying: While this may sound counterintuitive, it can help reduce the likelihood your worrisome thoughts will take over when you are trying to focus on something else. Schedule a consistent time during your day to review your worries and then put them aside. This will free up other times throughout your day to do other things and you can remind yourself you have your “worry time” scheduled for later.
• Challenge your thoughts: Many people worry about things that are not likely to occur. For example, you may find yourself always thinking things will turn out in the worst possible way or tell yourself you are not strong enough to handle life’s complicated situations. It may be useful to challenge these kinds of thoughts and examine the evidence supporting your negative conclusions or ask yourself if there is a more positive or realistic way of looking at your situation. Also, you may question if the things you are worried about it likely of even occurring.

• Use Distraction: Sometimes we get “stuck” in our heads which fuels out anxiety or worries. Remind yourself to take a break and engage in something that is fun and takes us away from our thoughts. For example, you may enjoy artwork, puzzles, or reading a book. You may also enjoy spending time with a friend.
• Exercise: Research consistently shows that exercise helps reduce mild and moderate depressive symptoms. Exercise increases activity of neurotransmitters linked with mood such as dopamine and serotonin. Aside from chemical changes in our brains, we often feel good about ourselves after we workout or are active.

• Eat Healthy: What we put into our bodies can dramatically affect our moods. Avoid caffeine, sugar, and processed foods. According to Elizabeth Somer, there are certain foods that help promote positive mood states such as yogurt, dark green leafy vegetables, and berries. For more information on diet and mood, please refer to her books “Food and Mood” & “Eating Your Way to Happiness.”

If you or someone you know struggles with anxiety, please contact Associates in Psychotherapy for a consultation at (866) 220-8371 or www.chicagoclinicaltherapist.com