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September 2009

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 large bookstore.

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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