Emotional Fitness

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Top 10 Tips to Reduce Anxiety

Take control of your life - don't let fear run you.

Everyone has frightening or anxious moments. This particular feeling can be detrimental to you because it may stop you from living a normal life. Here are my top ten tips to deal effectively with this uncomfortable emotion.

1. If you are prone to anxiety you have two choices. Give in to it or learn to live with it. Giving into it also means that your partner will suffer the burden of your fears so, to make your lives a better place to be, find ways to eliminate or at least limit this feeling by taking responsibility for your emotions and knowing you have a choice.

2. When you wake up tomorrow start doing something right away, and keep busy all day. Taking action by doing something, almost anything, will help you work through your anxiety. Sometimes it's doing the dishes or working in your garden. Other times it's reading or meditating. Just sitting around and thinking about your worries won't make them go away.

3. Focus your attention on where the feeling of anxiousness is in your body and keep your attention there until the feeling moves or dissolves. For example the tension could be in your abdomen or your neck. Whenever your attention wanders, bring it back to the place in your body where the physical feeling is. Doing this for five or ten minutes can reduce, if not eliminate, the anxiety.

4. Anxiety will grow if it's not directed into some positive action. Find someone who needs you and lend him or her a helping hand. It will almost always take your mind off your problems and fears. Helping others is actually a way of taking action and responsibility for your own healing.

5. Talking to someone is one of the best ways to overcome your anxiety. Getting together with your family and friends, even your fellow patrons at Starbucks, and talking about what you are feeling can be helpful. If you can't talk to someone, try writing a letter or visiting an appropriate Internet chat room.

6. Exercise is another good way to keep from letting your fears overwhelm you. Sometimes gentle forms of exercise like walking and yoga can be better than a hard workout at the gym. Do what works best for you at the moment and don't worry about breaking your normal routine, that change may actually help reduce your anxiety.

7.  Start a gratitude journal; write down three to five things that you are grateful for. Do this every night, it works and it's very easy. Become aware of all the good that surrounds you.  You can also have a releasing journal where you write about your anxiety and the actions that you can take to overcome those fears.

8. The opposite of fear is faith. When you are anxious, a great way to get out of it is to find some faith. Believing that things will get better is sometimes all it takes to make it better. It also helps to never underestimate the power of positive prayer or visualization, if it can cure cancer it can also reduce your anxiety.

9. If watching the news fills you with anxiety - turn off the TV! The world will continue to revolve even if you're not watching it on CNN. Limit yourself to one hour a day of news and don't watch anything that may upset you before you go to bed.

10. Courage is not the absence of fear, but taking action in spite of fear. Doing something new or confronting a fear by taking some baby steps is much more positive than doing nothing. If you need a better reason pick an action that will be helpful to someone else.

If you find that none of the tips above work, then you should take a serious look and consulting with a qualified therapist and physician and asking about medication. Choose to take control of your life and don't let your fears run you.

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Barton Goldsmith, Ph.D., is a psychotherapist, columnist, and radio host. His latest book is The Happy Couple: How to Make Happiness a Habit One Little Loving Thing at a Time.

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