Coping With Anxiety
Tip: Change What You Can, Accept the Rest
The Anxiety Toll continued...
Anxiety may also feel like depression. "The two sometimes overlap," Ross
When anxiety becomes so overwhelming that it interferes with day-to-day
activities -- when it keeps you from going places, from doing things you need
to do -- that's when you need help, says Ross.
Generalized anxiety disorder is a bigger syndrome -- "like a worry machine
in your head," Ross says. "If it's not one thing, it's another. You're
procrastinating to the point that you're almost afraid to take a step. You're
so nervous about going to your child's school to talk to the teacher, you just
don't go -- you miss the appointment."
In the case of such overwhelming anxiety, "people are not making good
decisions," says Ross. "They're avoiding things, or they're unable to rise to
the occasion because the anxiety is too much. They're procrastinating because
they can't concentrate, can't stay focused. It's really interfering with their
day-to-day life. At that point, they may have a more serious anxiety problem
and need professional help."
How Do You Cope?
To cope with plain-vanilla anxiety, "get real," as they say. "Separate out
the real risks and dangers that a situation presents and those your imagination
is making worse," advises Ross. It's a twist on the old adage: "Take control of
the things you can, and accept those you can't change."
"Ask yourself: Where can you take control of a situation? Where can you make
changes? Then do what needs to be done," she says. "What things do you simply
have to accept? That's very important."
Very often, it's possible to get past an anxiety cycle with the help of
friends or family -- someone who can help you sort out your problems. But when
anxiety becomes overwhelming, it's time for a therapist, or perhaps
Here are two strategies that therapists use to help us conquer anxiety:
Challenge negative thoughts.
Ask yourself: Is this a productive thought? Is it helping me get closer to
my goal? If it's just a negative thought you're rehashing, then you must be
able to say to that thought: 'Stop.' "That's difficult to do, but it's very
important," Ross says.