"In this emotional equivalent to an ultramarathon, it’s key to have some stress-reducing strategies available that work quickly and efficiently to help you hit the reset button.
Here’s why: Struggling with chronic worry gets in the way of effectively managing your emotions. Unfortunately, many people who experience distress try to escape their unpleasant emotions by distracting themselves in ways that ultimately backfire.
If you suspect you might be one of them, ask yourself whether you have a tendency to judge your emotions — it’s a common thing to do. But it can fuel a vicious loop of feeling, then avoiding the feelings and feeling even worse. Pushing away feelings is like trying to force a beach ball underwater: They will pop back up. Instead, notice and normalize difficult emotions; ideally, negative feelings, including fear, can motivate us to solve problems.
So rather than dealing with anxiety and uncertainty by getting lost worrying, then chasing short-term fixes with longer-term consequences, like procrastinating, using food or marijuana to cope or relying on benzodiazepines — the anti-anxiety drugs like Xanax — it’s helpful to experiment with quick strategies that will empower you. These strategies are not necessarily a cure, but can help lower the intensity of overwhelming emotions, allowing you to recalibrate to better deal with challenges you face.
My patients often reflect that an additional perk of strategic coping is boosting your sense of mastery — the hope that arises when you stretch yourself and accomplish something difficult, like coping with your anxiety in a productive way."
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