Work out your worries

Stop anxiety with these no-fail solutions

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Can’t stop worrying about your health, your relationship or losing your job? You’re not alone. Many of us do a lot of worrying, says Dr. Neil Rector, psychologist and head of the anxiety disorders clinic at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto. Problem is, constant worrying can morph into negative emotions, such as apprehension, anxiety, dread or angst. “Most of us actually think that worrying helps us solve problems and prepare for a situation, but we can’t control events just by thinking about them,” says Dr. Rector. Here’s what he recommends to keep your worries at bay.

When we worry, we tend to get focused on the worst-case scenario. For example, whenever you have a bad day at work, maybe you worry about the possibility of being fired. Try to recognize that you’re focusing on only one possible outcome—the most negative one. Ask yourself if you’re jumping to conclusions and making a small problem out to be a catastrophe. When you can recognize that you’re expecting the worst, it can help reduce your worry.

If you feel like you worry 24/7, schedule two 30-minute periods each day when you’ll allow yourself to worry about things that upset you. Do some active problem solving about your worries during that time by writing down possible solutions. If you feel worries creeping into your ‘fret-free’ time, set aside those thoughts until your next worry session. Don’t try to run away from your thoughts, but move on to doing something else. Limit worry time to your nine-to-five schedule as worrying just before you go to bed could lead to sleeping problems.

If you experience frequent and pervasive worrying about a number of activities or events, and can’t seem to control your worrying, you may have a generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). Ask yourself if you’ve been experiencing at least three out of six of these symptoms daily during the last six months:

If so, talk to your doctor for a referral to a psychologist or psychiatrist. There are effective treatments, such as cognitive behavioural therapy and medications, for chronic worrying.