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8 ways to worry less that therapists use themselves

You aren’t alone when dealing with overwhelming feelings of worry, stress and anxiety. We all go through them. Our bodies have evolved to get into a “fight or flight” mode when faced with an immediate threat or stress-inducing situation. This mechanism is important for survival. The nervous system prepares the body to either fight or flight.

In order to prep, the body produces certain physiological responses. Adrenaline is pumped into the blood, your heart beats faster than normal to push more oxygen to the muscles, and other vital organs, rapid breathing is induced to increase oxygen supply. More oxygen is sent to the brain and sensory organs to increase alertness. Glucose is also released into the bloodstream from storage to make sure the body has energy available to respond to threats.

All these are crucial reactions needed by the body to keep us safe and help us react in time. But when these effects become persistent due to chronic stress, that’s when a problem arises. The body wasn’t designed to be under chronic stress. And needs to go back to normal after the danger has subsided.

But in today’s hectic life, stress has become a constant. Looming work deadlines, fear of losing a job, work pressures, issues in relationships, worrying about things someone said, etc all leave us worried and stressed.

We feel stuck, fearful and uncertain. The looming uncertainty and the need to control the outcome drives us into overthinking and imagining every scenario possible. The key to coping overwhelming anxiety and stress is by putting things into perspective. And remembering that challenging moments pass too. The mantra being, “This too shall pass”.

Here are 11 methods that professional therapists use themselves to help put things into perspective.

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1. Name your emotions

It’s very easy to mislabel emotions. You might be feeling anger towards a co-worker for a mistake they made that may cost you. But what most people fail to realise is that it’s not anger alone you feel, you’re anxious about having to fix the problem. You worry about the outcome too.

Labelling emotions and being able to identify and name them is a very powerful tool. When you can identify all that you are feeling in a situation, you can then address each emotion. You can work on how to feel less frustrated, or angry, or anxious, or sad, or lonely if you know exactly what you are feeling.

2. Changing your lens

You must be aware that you actually need to change your perspective to be able to cope. Slow down, identify your own perspectives and then actively seek out alternatives each time you’re in a stressful situation. If you think of all the worst possible outcomes in a situation, try to think of more positive ones, and do so actively. What if you don’t fail at that project. What if you do get that job?

3. Don’t confuse your thoughts for facts

It’s easy to create a narrative in your head around what’s going on. For example, if your boss didn’t reply to an email as they normally would, you may create a story to explain why. But it is important to remember these thoughts and narratives aren’t always facts.

4. Try asking the question ‘Why’?

To drill-down on worries, asking ‘why’ might be very important. If you’re feeling angry about a situation, ask yourself, why do I feel angry? If you’re overthinking and worrying about the outcome of something, aks yourself, why am I nervous? Why am I anxious about doing this?

Basically, this process can help you turn around your thinking and potentially defuse your emotions at the same time.

5. Get up and get moving

This can be done in two ways. the first way is to actually get some exercise in as it helps use up excess adrenaline and releases feel-good hormones, endorphins. The second, when you feel overwhelmed, getting physically out of the space or situation helps. Get up and go out for a walk, clear your head. Breathe in some fresh air. Here are a few exercises you can do anywhere.

6. Breathe

As simple as it sounds, there’s a reason people ask you to take a deep breath. Breathing plays a very important role in bringing your body back to a resting state, out of the fight or flight mode. When you breathe slow, deep, long breaths, your heart rate reduces. This, in turn, calms the nervous system down and shuts down the releases of adrenaline. Further flowing the heart rate and bringing it down to the resting state.

7. Meditate

Just like your body needs exercise to stay in shape, the brain needs training to help you worry less. Meditation is a time-tested practice for finding perspective and getting more in touch with what matters. It doesn’t have to be difficult. Set aside some time regularly for meditation and or being mindful.

8. Drink Tea

Science says, drinking a cup of herbal tea can help reduce worries and stress. It’s not just a placebo effect. Drinking teas, with bioactive compounds, can help reduce the stress hormone, cortisol in the body. [1] There’s scientific evidence that oleuropein, a bioactive compound found in olive leaves might be useful in preventing anxiety-like behaviour associated with PTSD. [2]

Drinking tea also helps you find a calm space, as eating or drinking usually helps bring the body out of stress.

Buy herbal olive teas here.

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