rope breaking under stress

Regaining control over worry

"Today is the tomorrow we worried about yesterday."
Author unknown

Ever feel overwhelmed by worries? For many of us, anxious thoughts are fueled by our beliefs about worrying:
  • Some of us worry about the toll that anxiety has on our health - thus adding to the worry.
  • Others believe that worrying is better than doing nothing about the problem - it gives us some sense of control over thoughts and situations we are anxious about.
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In either case, regaining control over anxiety can be difficult if there is no positive behavior or thought to take its place. Establishing alternative behaviors and thoughts about anxiety can be key.

Step #1: Accept the uncertainty of the situation:

Many worriers have difficulty living with unpredictability. Worrying is seen as a way to control and prevent future feelings of loss in case things don't work out. Being able to tolerate the uncertainty of life situations plays a large role in worry and anxiety behavior.

#2 Create a time to worry in your daily routine:

  • Set aside a worry period. Choose a time in the day when you are allowed to worry. When the time is up, go back to your worry-free zone until the next session
  • Postpone worry. As anxious thoughts come surface throughout the day, write them down and commit to addressing it during your worry period. Go over your list only during your worry time.

#3 Challenge negative thoughts about worry:

Can I absolutely know that this belief or thought is true? If the answer is NO, then ask the following questions:

  • What is the worst that could happen if it were true?
  • What is the likelihood of the worst happening?
  • Am I so sure that I will not be able to handle the worst case scenario?
  • How do I know that the worst outcome will be as bad as I am anticipating in my mind?
  • What advice would I give to a friend in this situation

#4 Practice simple relaxation techniques:

  • Deep diaphramatic breathing, slowing down the exhale, is a great way to calm down the sympathetic nervous system's fight or flight response that goes along with chronic worry and stress.
  • Meditation can take many forms from focusing on a mantra, to walking meditation, to mindfullness meditation. Check into the various forms of meditation available and choose one that fits you.

Other stress management tips:

  • Reach out for support. Problems seem bigger when faced alone. Don't be afraid to ask for help and support when you need it.
  • Reduce use of caffeine and sugar. Both are linked to heightened levels of anxiety and blood sugar swings.
  • Get regular exercise. Exercise itself can be a form of meditation and has been shown to clear the mind. It also boosts self-efficacy, and helps release endorphins needed to feel calm and centered.

From the Research Desk...

help for depression
High Vitamin B-12 levels may improve treatment outcomes for patients with depressive disorders

Kuopio, Finland - Researchers studied 115 outpatients with depressive disorders for six months to see if there was an association between Vitamin B-12, folate levels and a six-month treatment outcome.

Patients' blood levels of B-12 and folate were measured at the beginning of the six-month treatment and again at the end. Also, the level of depression was measured using a standard rating scale at the beginning and the end of the study. The patients were treated by their regular psychiatrists and therapists during the study period.

Patients with lower depression had higher Vitamin B-12 levels at the beginning and the end of the study, which suggests a positive correlation between B-12 and better treatment outcome of depressive patients.

Your diet can help protect you against cardiovascular disease

Boston, Massachusetts - A study released by Brigham and Women's Hospital discussed lifestyle choices that contribute to cardiovascular disease (CVD). The study reports that 50% of all deaths in industrialized nations are caused by CVD and 70% of CVD can be prevented or delayed.

healthy heart diet Seven dietary modifications can reduce the risk of CVD:
1. Reduce calories
2. Reduce total fat and cholesterol with proportional increases in Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids
3. Increase dietary fiber, fruit and vegetables
4. Increase folate, B-6 and B-12
5. Increase plant protein rather than animal protein
6. Reduce highly processed foods
7. Adopt a more "Mediterranean" diet

Two additonal factors for reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease are to increase one's physical activity level and not smoke.

Source: Current Treatment Options in Cardiovascular Medicine.

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