Coping With Anxiety
Tip: Change What You Can, Accept the Rest
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.
Rather than becoming paralyzed with anxiety, here's another message you can
send yourself: "I may have to take a job I don't like as much, may have to
travel further than I want, but I'll do what I have to do now. At least I will
have the security of income in the short term. Then I can look for something
The most important thing: "to realize when you've done everything you can,
that you need to move forward," Ross says.
Learn to relax.
You may even need "breathing retraining," Ross adds. "When people get
anxious, they tend to hold their breath. We teach people a special
diaphragmatic breathing -- it calms your system. Do yoga, meditation, or get
some exercise. Exercise is a terrific outlet for anxiety."
Most of all, try not to compound your problems, adds Andrews. "When things
are bad, there is a legitimate reason to feel bad," she says. "But if you don't
deal with it, you're going to lose more than just a job -- you'll lose
relationships, your self confidence, you could even lose technical abilities if
you stay dormant in your profession. Try not to compound one stress by adding
Often your ability to work through anxiety -- get past it -- varies
depending on the type of crisis you faced. "The more severe, the more
surprising it was, the longer it's going to take to get over it," says Andrews.
"You may be on autopilot for several weeks. If you're depressed, that can
complicate things. In the case of divorce, it may take months to years to
really get back to yourself."
But take heart. "If you're doing well in one aspect of your life -- in your
work or your relationships -- you're probably on your way," she says. "Fear and
anxiety are no longer running your life."