We’ve had a few stressful months in the McCourt house—my husband’s heart surgery took the forefront, of course, but I still had to deal with smaller problems—my car’s “check engine” light, a broken dishwasher and more. Suddenly it all came crashing down, and I was struggling just to catch my breath.
Even therapists face anxiety-fueled moments like this, so I asked Debra Kissen, PhD, CEO of Light On Anxiety CBT Treatment Centers, what to do the next time anxiety gets the best of me…
Reframe it: Consider what the anxiety is trying to tell you. Example: You are sitting on the couch, flicking through channels and you notice a dread-like feeling in your chest. Make contact with the discomfort. Is there a message to the anxiety? Perhaps it is telling you to get a good night’s sleep…or open that stack of bills?
Lean into it: We naturally try to fight off anxiety. Instead: Stand up, open your arms wide, and open yourself to the sensation of the emotion. This unguarded posture tricks your brain into thinking there is no threat, so the anxiety soon dissipates.
Get to work: If what’s eating at you is unfinished tasks, take some action—no matter how small—toward accomplishing something.
Take comfort: Take a walk, spend time with your partner or phone a friend. Don’t try to run from your anxiety. Your mentality should be, I can handle this anxiety. I just choose to engage in some self-care. Remember—self-medicating with drugs or alcohol is never wise.
So bring it on—I am ready the next time I am feeling overwhelmed by life.