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5 Ways to Get a Grip on Your Mental Health
By Glenn Peters, Ph.D.
From the AADA, Association for Anxiety Disorders of America
By Stacey Colino
When anxiety or stress threatens to throw you off kilter,
it’s time to come to your own emotional rescue.
Step 1: Accept that stress and anxiety are a normal
part of life. If you can give yourself permission to experience and
accept uncomfortable feelings, rather than try to hide them from yourself,
you’ll be able to tolerate them better, explains Washington, D.C.-based
psychotherapist Jerilyn Ross, M.A., president and CEO of the Anxiety
Disorders Association of America (ADAA) and author of One Less Thing
to Worry About: Uncommon Wisdom for Coping with Common Anxieties.
Step 2: Consider what’s really bothering you.
When you begin to feel tense or anxious, take a deep breath and ask
yourself, “What am I really anxious about? “ That’s
when a journal can come in handy to see the patterns between your thoughts,
feelings and behaviors.
Step 3: Seize control over what you can. Consider what
actions you can take to ease your anxiety level. If you are worried
about being late to school get up earlier and start a relaxation exercise
such as deep breathing or guided meditation that you can buy at any
Step 4: Start to question and change negative thoughts,
for instance, question the negative thoughts that you have when you
are late for a friend, such as this person will hate me and never want
to be my friend. Use questions such “Is this really true?”
Further explore within yourself, “Would this friend actually hate
me because I am late and is this negative thought really consistent
with the friendship that we have developed together?” Use positive
self-talk: “No, I know my friend will understand, based on my
knowledge and previous experiences of our friendship, and I will explain
to him or her why I am late.
Step 5: Be present minded. Stay rooted in the here
and now,” says Jerilyn Ross, “and focus on the information
you have rather than on the ‘What-ifs?’ that accompany anxiety.
If you have trouble stopping the “What-if” habit pinch yourself
and say “Stop!” and visualize a stop sign then consciously
turn your attention in a more constructive direction.
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