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Women's Health

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Escape from the Worry Trap

Worry as Vigilance continued...

Talk to Someone
"Get it out. Talk to a friend, talk to a colleague, talk to your dog," advises Dr. Hallowell. "This is the number one tool of worry control because it's so simple and so effective."

To avoid overloading others with your angst, ask a pal for 10 minutes of vent time, then offer your ear to her.

Devote a set amount of time — say, 10 to 20 minutes a day — to your potential troubles.

Let your imagination run as wild as it can during this period. Afterward, if an upsetting thought arises, file it away for the next day's session.

Too difficult? Start by working to postpone worries for a few minutes at a time.

Imagine the Chances
Pondering how you'd feel and what you'd do if the worst did happen may help you see that the chances it will happen are slight and that you can handle lesser events.

Judy Bosniadis, a real estate agent in Chapel Hill, NC, uses this strategy to relieve her recurring anxiety that she'll be late for morning meetings in the office.

"The big worry is that the alarm clock won't go off, I'll be late for the meeting and everyone will be upset," she says. "I can really toss and turn over this. So what I do is take each fear and work through it until I've diluted it."

For example, Bosniadis tells herself that not only will the alarm most likely go off on schedule, but a late arrival at the meeting would cause little stir, and it's highly unlikely that she'd be disciplined for tardiness anyway.

"By the time I've gone through all the possibilities, I'm okay," she says.

Soothe Your Soul

Focusing on the here and now can go a long way toward soothing the soul.

To get started, give yourself five minutes to absorb the details of your surroundings: the dishes on the table, the flow of light through the window.

"If I just sit here and look intently at the rose on my table for a couple of minutes, it really helps pull me into a different state," notes Mary Ellen Copeland, M.S., M.A., author of The Worry Control Handbook.

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