How to Manage Your Anxiety in an Anxious World

Written by Dr. Perry, PhD


“Worry never robs tomorrow of its sorrow, it only saps today of its joy.” ~Leo F. Buscaglia

Millions of us are living lives disproportionately full of worry. This excessive worrying outweighs the possible impact that the occurrence of the anxiety-provoking event would have on our lives. We are not able to manage or control the thoughts that flood our minds. We are consumed with worry about family, health, work and everyday life events. While a certain amount of worry is a healthy reaction to life’s stressors, individuals with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) have uncontrollable and excessive anxiety over such events.

According to the National Insitute of Mental Health (NIMH), anxiety disorders affect 18.1 percent of adults in the United States. This is approximately 40 million adults between the ages of 18 to 54. Research suggests that anxiety is the number one mental health issue in Northern America. According to the DSM-5, to be diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder, one must have uncontrollable and excessive anxiety or worry for a majority of days within a 6 month period that is causing clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational or other important areas of functioning. Further, 3 of the following additional symptoms must be displayed by adults.

  1. Restlessness or feeling on edge
  2. Easily fatigued
  3. Difficulty concentrating or mind going blank
  4. Irritability
  5. Muscle tension
  6. Sleep disturbance

The constant worrying depletes a person of energy and time that is needed to function properly at home or at work. This may manifest itself in lower productivity at work, irritability and a lower tolerance for stress in daily life and when interacting with others. According to the DSM-5, the symptoms of GAD tend to be chronic, but ebb and flow throughout a person’s life. With the proper coping skills a person can learn new ways to manage mental, emotional and physical distress.

The following are techniques that have been shown to help with symptoms of GAD.

1. Exposure therapy
Although not widely used, research has shown that exposure therapy is effective in treating generalized anxiety disorder. By establishing a course of treatment that encourages a person to confront either external or internal fears, one can learn to moderate the fearful reactions that are evoked. For example, if a person is excessively anxious and worried about eating in public, they can purposefully induce worrisome thoughts in a safe environment and confront the feelings that are elicited. By being exposed to these uncomfortable sensations, a person can condition their amygdala, the part of the brain responsible for emotional responses to be more resilient.

2. Change your thinking
Anxiety is often a result of ruminating on worrisome thoughts that are unrealistic. Here are three general ways that rumination may occur.

Over-generalizing: A form of rumination that occurs when a person sees things as all-or-nothing. An example of this would be if a person makes one mistake they may begin to think that the entire project will be a failure. Another example would be if a person does not like a particular characteristic of someone, they may decide that they do not like the person at all.

Catastrophizing: A form of rumination that occurs when a person fixates their attention solely on the worst possible outcome. An example of this would be if a person’s employer asks to speak with them, the employee’s assumption may be that they will soon be fired. Another example of this would be if a person’s car breaks down they may assume that the car is not repairable.

Mind reading: A form of rumination that occurs when a person assumes that they know what another person is thinking. A person may assume that someone thinks they are stupid even when there is no evidence to support their thought.

One way to stop ruminating is to focus on shifting your mental gears. When we ruminate we are stuck in a mental space overwhelmed with negative thoughts. We need to jolt ourselves out of this place. When you begin to ruminate, ask yourself is this thought is helpful. If it is not, verbally tell yourself to stop. By speaking this out loud it may take you out of the space you are in.  Further, you can remove yourself mentally by recalling a positive experience. Try to visualize yourself in a different setting perhaps enjoying an afternoon walk. You can also take an actual walk or physically place yourself in a place that brings up positive emotions.

3. Acceptance
Accept that you are feeling overwhelmed with anxiety and worry. Acknowledge that these feelings, although uncomfortable, are not harmful. By working through these feelings and understanding that no harm is being done, you may be encouraged to press on in the direction that is aligned with your truest values.

4. Mindfulness-based approach
Reflect on what it is in your daily life that is triggering your anxiety and worry. By assessing your daily routine you can begin to identify what needs to change in your life. Perhaps you need to exercise, eat healthy, sleep more or make some other adjustment to your daily routine. Further, it is important to determine whether your anxiety is solvable. If there is a linear way to resolve the tension then a positive action is necessary. Keep in mind, there may not be a succinct solution to address anxious feelings. If this is the case then an attitude of acceptance will be most effective. Lastly, your mind is much like your body in that what you ingest, you digest and then manifest. Feed your mind daily with positive ideas. I believe that a single quote can change a perspective and thus, change a life.

If you suffer from generalized anxiety disorder or any other form of anxiety and would like to share what is effective for you in managing the symptoms please share in the comments section.

I hope you found this helpful. If you would like to schedule a free initial consultation to work with me on your mental health please click here.

Kindly,
Dr. Perry


www.MakeItUltraPsychology.com
“We specialize in a solution-focused approach to psychotherapy, specifically treating depression, anxiety, relationship issues and narcissistic abuse.”
Verified by Psychology Today


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66 responses to How to Manage Your Anxiety in an Anxious World

  1. This is a great piece, thank you for sharing. I will refer a friend to this particular blog of yours, as she’s needing to read exactly this at this moment. Thank you and keep well.

    Liked by 5 people

  2. I gravitate toward ‘catastrophizing’, though adopting an ‘all or nothing’ approach has been an issue as well. As for healing, ‘mindfulness’ is a big deal; if you’re aware of a pattern of thoughy, that means you’ve been able to step far enough outside of that pattern in order to see it from the outside. If you’re getting outside of it, then you’re not as far into it as you once were. You’re starting to get free. ‘Acceptance’ is one I’m wrestling with, because in the last few years I’ve leaned hard on my rational mind, to the neglect of my gut-level emotions.

    Liked by 7 people

  3. lynnetteok says:

    I have GAD and it can be horrible. One of the things that helps me is to talk to someone (therapist, friend, spouse, etc.) about what I’m anxious about. I almost always come away with a different perspective which can ease my anxiety. Monsters live in the dark. Bringing them out into the light by talking about them can make things feel less scary.

    Liked by 5 people

  4. Stiina Marie says:

    I was taught rationalizing. I take what I am worrying about and try to break it down. I ask myself how true it this worry? Is it dangerous? Am I in danger? Questions like these put the worry or fear in perspective and help diminish it.

    Liked by 5 people

  5. I so wish I could put you in my pocket and take you out whenever I need some advice. I so want to be confident and try to project an air of confidence when around others but truly I am an emotional wreck on the inside, like a swan all graceful and calm on the surface but kicking like mad under the water.

    Liked by 6 people

  6. Nikki says:

    This is in synchronization that I am wobbling between anxiety and depression at the very moment I decided to grab a small lunch and go to a park hidden away in a nice neighborhood. I log on and I read this. 😊 My anxiety today is induced by this difficult time I’m having financially because of my health but tomorrow is my daughter’s birthday and my birthday is a few days. I’m anxious because I’m worried about spending money and I’m depressed because I can’t do the things I want to do or even can do with ease like before. Initially I was feeling irritable because my daughter wanted to stay home and I wanted to enjoy the day. SO… after determining the source of my fluctuating mood, I can strategize. Plan. This seems to help me not to feel so helpless.

    Liked by 5 people

  7. dddish says:

    This is wonderful! It identifies what so many people are dealing with and give helpful steps to deal with it. Thank you for sharing your knowledge!

    Liked by 3 people

  8. Roy Lennic says:

    First, the quote was the perfect introduction that opened my eyes into a series of self awareness. Secondly, Your whole methods were so meaningful and important to me. It was great and very educative, and also motivating. Im glad you wrote it.

    Liked by 3 people

  9. I wish I had a decent solution. Right now I rely on sleeping aids and pain killers way too much because without them I don’t sleep until 5am which makes getting up at 7 challenging to say the least.
    Life weighs very heavily and even though some of my fears are ridiculously stupid, I can’t stop them.
    Irrational fears of house fires. Earthquakes. Tsunamis.
    To the point some nights I make my kids sleep in my room so I can check on them in the night and they are close enough to grab if something goes wrong.
    Restless legs and brain when I’m supposed to be asleep.
    Constant fatigue and weight gain even though I’m too exhausted to do anything.
    Stress and crappy eating because I’m too tired and cranky to cope with life.
    During the day I mostly appear to be fine to most people.
    But they don’t have to see the hot mess I melt into at night…..

    Liked by 6 people

  10. Isabelle Reid says:

    This is awesome. I’m currently on medication for my anxiety but tips like this make everything easier to manage!

    Liked by 5 people

  11. Making a list of the worst and best possible outcomes in an anxiety producing situation often helps. Affirmations, and gratitude work well too as does reminding myself that in this exact moment, all is well.

    Liked by 4 people

  12. yvidarlin says:

    Thank you for sharing. I’m saving this to go back to. I have a bit of an issue with anxiety and this has spoken to me. Thank you, again

    Liked by 3 people

  13. Anxiety has a way of visiting during a crisis and then wanting to hang around like a permanent house guest. It’s taking me years to “unlearn” the habits of anxious thinking.

    Liked by 3 people

  14. Brill post, thank you. You asked what helps us? I find that making a conscious decision to simplify the situation beneficial. In any situation I perceive (possibly incorrectly) that I can see dozens of possible outcomes and then I find I am managing dozens of scenarios and all the scenarios those dozens generate. If I recognise what is happening and bring myself back to the simplicity of the conversation or situation and deal with what is actually happening and actually being said rather than what I make it mean, I find that everything is more manageable. Sometimes I have to plan 2-3 chess moves ahead but not the dozens on dozens, that is unhealthy.

    Liked by 2 people

  15. Jack "Blimprider" Tyler says:

    As a Taoist, worry is against my religion; doesn’t mean I don’t indulge in it on occasion, though! This article is very straightforward in offering many insights into worry, and offering ways that the worrier can mitigate the effects. My initial thought was that those afflicted with anxiety are the very ones who will be least able to take advantage of a self-help list, but reading these comments, it seems you are offering help that they are using. Worry is fear on credit, and helping people to see that is a service beyond price. It’s fine work you’re doing here, Doctor, and I think much of the value is in helping those who live with people who have these issues gain some tools to help their loved ones. For whatever my humble layman’s opinion is worth, well-done!

    Liked by 2 people

  16. jordanpike13 says:

    I always find myself browsing your work when I need advice the most! Thank you for being here. Reposted to my community!

    Liked by 4 people

  17. jim- says:

    Part of what I’m gathering here is to have a wellness plan for yourself. Floating through life is unproductive and can open the doors to problems. Have a plan. People don’t plan to fail, but fail to plan. Just like any venture, it’s important to set yourself up for success. You/me must come first in this area. Great reminders Doc. Love your blog, and many thanks.

    Liked by 3 people

  18. katsblog says:

    I feel like I might be able to handle my anxiety in a different way now with using these tips. Very interesting and thank you for writing it.

    Liked by 5 people

  19. Glynis Jolly says:

    I have GAD. I have learned to use some cognitive tools to deal with it along with a low-dose medication. I have found daily routes help quite a bit. I use your suggestion of accepting the feels of being overwhelmed and physically and or mentally walk away from the situation with the intention of going back to it later after I have calmed down.

    Liked by 4 people

  20. todgermanica says:

    Very helpful post similar to classes I’ve taken through Kaiser, my HMO. I’m a trouble borrower yet the worst seldom happens. Good writing as well.

    Liked by 4 people

  21. Georgia Anne says:

    I think you must have written this post for me. Thank you Dr. Perry. I always enjoying reading your posts ❤

    Liked by 2 people

  22. Glenda Herdman says:

    Great article. I have lived with an anxiety disorder for most of my adult life. I have used all these therapies in my journey and I can say without a doubt it works. It takes a lot of hard work and perseverance, there is no miracle cure. Exposure therapy is brilliant. My Psychologist helped me to draw up a detailed list of steps for all the situations I avoided because of the fear of a panic attack, the steps were small achievable steps that were easily done. It has taken me a few years but I am nearly totally free. I have so many great techniques to help me through those anxious moments and I share these with others. Thank you

    Liked by 2 people

  23. This is very on point! I’m very much a black and white person, and tend to steer toward the path of the worst possible scenario. Even before it happens. I’m trying to learn to focus on facts, not feelings. Baby steps for sure.

    Liked by 2 people

  24. I have been told that FEAR is Future Events “Appearing” Real. If I stop and say, “In this exact moment, this second, all is well,” it can stop my thoughts from running away with worry. Acceptance that it is what it is can help too.

    Liked by 2 people

  25. Nat says:

    This was thought provoking and helpful to me. I don’t suffer with extreme anxiety but depression with some social anxiety. Hubby has been suffering with extreme anxiety for several years and some of the suggested methods may help him. Sadly mindfulness and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy didn’t but I’ll share your post with him and hope he can take something from it. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dr. Perry says:

      I’m very happy to hear this. My main purpose for writing these posts is to try and help others. Have a wonderful day✨

      Liked by 1 person

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