Fixing Families

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10 Tips for Staying Anxious

Anxiety: Like a Jedi warrior you too can learn to feel the force

Sure we all get anxious, but for most of us it rides up and down like a wave at the beach. But if you want to get really good at anxiety, if you really want to learn how to stay in the zone, you need to drill down into your anxious mind and get pumped.

Here are 10 sure-fire tips that will keep you and your anxious brain running at top speed: 

1. Believe everything your anxious mind is saying. You're worried that you might get fired because you didn’t say good morning to your boss – Yes! A meteor might fall on your house? It’s undoubtedly happened sometime (or some space shuttle stuff or whatever) and why not you? Nothing is ridiculous (ridiculous = unaware in anxiety land). Your anxious mind is the smartest part of you.

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2. Do whatever your anxiety says and you’ll be fine. Talk to a meteor-house specialist about ways of protecting your house from the Big One. Be proactive and send that fruit basket to your boss or better yet start working today on that resignation letter today. You know you'll feel (momentarily) better if you do.

3. Check in with yourself and your worries at least 10 times a day. Focus, focus, vigilance, vigilance. You start watching the DVD of the Sound of Music and before you know it -- Bam! -- your worries and negative feelings have slipped away. Who knows what you've missed, what has gone underground! You need to stay on top on all this. If you don't, you know how it will all back up and... you don't even want to go there!

4. Forget about the present, stay focused on the future. The present is just so...present. It goes by in a flash. Who can keep up with it? – Watching your daughter’s first steps, how feel when you find out you are pregnant or got that promotion – gone, morphs away in an instant! Your anxiety, on the other hand, keeps you grounded in that vast unknown future, that broad landscape that goes on and on forever.

So skip the present -- the steps, the baby, the promotion. Look ahead -- paying for that college tuition that's only 20 years away, senility, nursing homes! The present is only for the myopic. Real life only begins where you're not -- down that road, around that bend, near the horizon, that speck in the distance....

5. Make everything important. Should I get regular, light, no fat mayonnaise? What blouse should I wear with that skirt? What topic should I pick for my senior thesis? Should I marry Chris?  As they always say, life is in the details, and details (even the detailist details) have consequences. Mayonnaise and blouses do reverberate across you psyche and life. You don't want to make a stupid, impulsive choice now (Why did I get the no fat!!!!!) and risk feeling the sting of regret forever.

And if you want to take this to the next level, make sure (Warrior Bonus Points here!!!!) all your decisions are perfect!

6. Multiply any worry, any negative feeling by at least a 100. Have a headache, go ahead and call it a migraine; better yet, a probable brain tumor. Think you got crazy and rather than “Attach but not staple” your W-2 to your tax return, you actually stapled it? Start obsessing now about how you are going to cope with 10 years in prison, who your kids are going to live with, what accessories go with orange jumpsuits.

7. Share your anxiety with friends and family. They’ll call it you being stressed out or complaining, but you know it’s reality and attempts at support. Tell them about the brain tumor, the upcoming jail time, the meteor. If they start to go “rational” on you, and tell you to relax or keep things in perspective, realize its their denial talking; this only affirms how out of touch they are with... well, life.

8. Hang around other anxious people. Ok, forget about the family and friends, that obviously wasn't a good idea. If you really want to keep that anxiety dragon fed you need to be around people like you, people who understand you, who empathize with your worries, can feel your pain, fuel your worries. There has to be a local group as concerned as you are about stray meteors as you are – track them down. Ditto for blouses and skirts. And if you happen to live in a with a population of 12, reach out -- go online. Better yet be proactive – start you own blog – The Silent Trauma of Matching Clothes. And, hello --- whatever you do stay on track and away from that damn Sound of Music!

9. Do no exercise and practice shallow breathing. I know, we're getting a bit technical here but this is important. Exercise will just disrupt your normal system, mess with your focus, bring you back to that useless present (Am I running fast enough? Did my shoulder just dislocate when I moved my arm?). Deep breaths have the same effect (“You actually could feel a strain, couldn’t you when you took that deep breath?) This kind of stuff obviously can't be good for you. It throws you off your game. Just lay off. Sit on the couch, stay in your head.

10. Believe you are the center of the universe. Ok, maybe that's a bit of an exaggeration. Yes, you know that on an unexpetctedly good day a meteor really doesn't have your name on it, (really?). But, hmmm... the IRS? Now that you think about it, you might have signed your name in blue instead of black on that '08 tax return, and they surely got machines or something that can tell. And that thing about your boss? As everyone else knows (or should know) she is just gunning to clean house. If you don't worry about you, who will? 

Whew! A lot to absorb, a lot of exclamation points!!!! Hopefully there's enough here to get you started on your anxiety-ramp-up training program. As you can tell (and feel the adrenalin rush.... or is that just my anxiety?) this isn't for the weak-hearted or slacker. To reach this level takes a special kind person -you! 

Finally to help jumpstart your day and set your mind on the right course, you may want to read this list first thing each morning. Try reading this once, hmm... maybe twice, hmmm.....Try checking the items off (hmmm... maybe check again...) 

The challenge is yours. Success is just down the road, around the bend, at the horizon....

Go, Warrior.

 

Bob Taibbi, L.C.S.W. has 40 years of clinical experience. He is author of 6 books and over 300 articles and provides training nationally and internationally.

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