Worry never robs tomorrow of its sorrow, it only saps today of its joy. ~Leo Buscaglia
Managing anxiety is not for the faint of heart.
You may be thinking,
“You must be insane! Do you know how much sleep I lose over worry? Do you know how tied up in knots my stomach is? Doesn’t worry affect my health?!”
Ok, so worry in and of itself may not be so healthy or good for your career. But, if you respond successfully to worry, you will uncover some strategic planning strategies that will benefit you!
Managing Anxiety Strategy#1: Eat Right, Exercise, and Relax!
The opposite of relaxation is tension. And tension, over time, takes a toll, physically, on your body. Earlier this week, I learned a fascinating statistic while listening to a psychiatrist present about the risk of depression. If you practice good nutrition, exercise, and meditation, you can reduce your chances of getting depression by 30%! However, if you do not practice these disciplines, you increase your chance of getting depression by 50%!
Accept Your Worrying!
At the same time, decide and commit to at least 3-4 times a week of physical fitness. And learn how to practice mindfulness/meditation, even 5 minutes at a time during a break in your day. Watch what you eat, and increase your intake of fruits and vegetables. Take omega-3 fatty acids in the form of fish oil pills or flax oil pills to nurture your brain and mental health.
From my own experience, I will share with you that the Wii Fit Plus with Balance Board has been really helpful to kick start my fitness journey. With it, you can gain skill and practice in yoga, aerobics, balance, strength training. It takes your body mass index and shows you how ‘old’ you really are in terms of how healthy your body is, then formulates a plan to take you there. Each time you work out, you can see how you are making progress.
As a Christian, I like to utilize Christian meditation resources. Richard Foster, in his book Celebration of Discipline, the Path to Spiritual Growth, Revised and Expanded, describes Christian meditation in detail. You can also consider Christian Meditation CD: Taking Control of Your Thought Life, by Rhonda Jones, and Christian Meditation and Relaxation Four Cd Set (Christian Meditation) (by the same author).
A helpful self-help workbook for meditation and relaxation is The Relaxation & Stress Reduction Workbook (New Harbinger Self-Help Workbook).
Intermediate and Advanced Resources:
In addition to the Wii Fit, I also have spent some time watching the Biggest Loser on television, and was inspired by trainer Jillian Michaels. Her set of DVD’s (Jillian Michaels 3 DVDs: 30 Day Shred – Banish Fat, Boost Metabolism – No More Trouble Zones) have proved effective in kicking my butt!!
Of course, I one of my neighbors mocked me, as he was working his way through P90X Plus – Workout DVD. I have known both Facebook and co-worker friends who benefit from this extremely intense workout.
You may also want to consider running! I’m biased here, because I ran my first 5K race last summer, and I just ran my first full marathon last Sunday! I came across Jeff Galloway (check out his blog for some great tips on getting started), and I have utilized his walk run method to increase my distances.
Whatever resources you use, eating right, supplementing your diet with omega-3, and practicing mindfulness/meditation is the first step in harnessing worry.
Managing Anxiety Strategy #2: Complete a Risk Assessment.
This is a great way to face your worries head on and to come up with a strategic plan that will turn fear into solutions. This formula comes from the resource Thoughts & Feelings: Taking Control of Your Moods and Your Life Workbook. I encourage you to make a regular practice of putting down in black and white your thoughts and feelings.
While this method may take some practice and discipline, it will give you a sense of control over fear. I’m going to use the following example of worry over getting laid off from a job as a way of showing you how the risk assessment works.
First, write down your feared event
I’ll get laid off
(these are the thoughts that run through your mind, associated with the feared event)
I won’t be able to get another job. There aren’t any jobs for me out there with this economy. How will we be able to pay the rent/mortgage?
Rate anxiety from 0-100: 70
Rate probability of the event from 0-100%: 60
Assuming the worst happens:
- Predict the worst possible consequences: I’ll be a failure. I won’t be able to pay the mortgage. We’ll go bankrupt!
Possible coping thoughts:
I can prepare for the possibility of a lay-off. I can look into purchasing insurance that will pay the mortgage in case I am laid off. The economy is tough, but my company is doing pretty well, from the review of the year to date financials.
Possible coping actions:
Research mortgage insurance. Talk to my manager about her/his perception of the future of my type of job over the next year to five years. Sign up for some career assessment/testing to identify other jobs/positions I may be well-suited for. Develop a plan of action to get the skills I need to be valuable in my current job and prepared for other jobs in the future.
Revised prediction of consequences:
It’s not necessarily any more probable that I will get laid off than any other average person, but I can prepare for the worst and expect the best.
Re-rate anxiety from 0-100: 30
Evidence against the worse possible outcome:
The company financial statements are pretty strong. I had a very good review last year. My manager says that the outlook, while not extremely favorable, is not indicating any potential layoffs.
Re-rate anxiety from 0-100: 30
Re-rate probability of the event from 0-100%: 40
So, to summarize:
Worrying can be good for your health and your career if you do the following:
a) Accept the Worry
Don’t try to banish it from your mind. Acknowledge it as a normal part of life.
b) Eat Right, Exercise, and Relax
Practice good nutrition and supplementation, get your aerobic exercise in 3-4 times per week, and practice meditation and mindfulness (at least 1-2 times a day during lunch breaks or other breaks).
c) Use the risk assessment form
As described above to write out your feared events, to change your thinking pattern from negative/catastrophic to reality-based/constructive, and to realign your attitude to one of embracing life as an adventure!
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This article is adapted from Personal Success Factors
If you are, considering cognitive behavioral therapy or anxiety therapy, please contact me for a free 15-minute consultation.
Steve Borgman, LCPC, is a cognitive behavioral therapist and currently owns a private practice in Barrington, IL. To find out more about Steve, check Counseling and Psychotherapy in Barrington, IL.