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Dr. Hallowell’s Tips to Manage Worry, Anxiety

Edward M. Hallowell, MD

10 Antidotes for Anxiety

Anxiety is often brought on by “worry.” Many of you have written us asking for tips on how to curb the anxiety associated with stress and worry. Many of these tips are from Dr. Hallowell’s book “WORRY.” These are ten of our favorite tips for putting worry in perspective:

  1. All worry is not bad. Identify all the things you worry about and separate out the toxic to your health worries from good worry. Good worry amounts to planning and problem solving. Toxic worry is unnecessary, repetitive unproductive, paralyzing and life-defeating.
  2. Exercise at least every other day. It reduces the accumulated noise and helps relax you.
  3. Repeat the mantra “I’ll fix what I can and, then I’ll put the rest out of my mind,” when you feel anxious thoughts emerging.
  4. Add structure to your life where you need it. Often disorganization, poor time management creates anxiety. To help get you on track and calm your stress, consider hiring a organization coach. The National Association of Professional Organizers has a listing of such coaches near you.
  5. Reality – test your worry. Regain perspective. Share your worries with someone who should know if what you are worrying about makes sense or if you have exaggerated it. So many of our problems are the result of overactive imaginations.
  6. Use humor. Make friends with amusing people, watch a Marx brothers movie, tune into Comedy Central or a humorous sit-com. Humor restores perspective; toxic worry almost always entails a loss of perspective.
  7. Get plenty of sleep. One good way to fall asleep naturally is to focus on counting your breaths. Inhale on 2-3 counts and exhale on 5-6 counts. This relaxes you and gives you something neutral to think about.
  8. Avoid watching too much TV or reading too many newspapers and magazines.
  9. Never worry alone. You often find solutions to a problem when you talk it out with someone. The mere fact of putting it into words takes it out of the threatening realm of the imagination and puts it into some concrete, manageable form.
  10. Develop connectedness in as many ways as you can – with family, friends, organizations or nature. Take up a hobby that could get you involved in a local group – bird watching, cycling, walking etc. Consider volunteering for an organization that you care about.

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