Today I have a special guest blogger, my mom! Dr. Linda Edelstein, a clinical psychologist for over 30 years, and author of several books.
With the intense political climate and widespread financial mess, I think that these are appropriate times to think about managing anxiety.
Whether our worries are global or close to home, such as jobs, families and ourselves, almost everyone I know (in my personal life as well as in my clinical practice) seems to be in a state of anxiety. So here are some brief thoughts on the topic.
Anxiety, at its core, is a fear reaction. It is the expectation of danger.
An example – When you wait for the doctor to walk into the office with test results, the moment the door opens, your stomach tightens and you hold your breath. You are afraid that you are going to receive news that will negatively change your life. The answer to these feelings can’t be, “So, don’t go to the doctor.”
What is the answer? I know that I sound like the politicians when I say that there is no quick and easy answer, but here are some tips to manage anxiety:
1. Learn to recognize the signals of anxiety in your body and your mind.
(feeling edgy, irritable, experiencing muscle tension, trouble concentrating)
2. Ask yourself, “What am I afraid of?”
(be thoughtful, honest and specific in your responses)
3. Ask yourself, “Is there anything that I can reasonably do about my worries?”
(sometimes ‘yes’, sometimes ‘no’)
Sometimes you must sit with uncertainty, you must tolerate not yet knowing an answer. While you sit, you may want to: breathe, talk to trusted people, get enough sleep, eat regular meals, get some exercise, consider plan B, participate in an activity that engages your mind, call Jenny for acupuncture, and be grateful for the life that you have. Being grateful has health benefits.
Linda N. Edelstein, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist with private practices in Evanston and Chicago. She is the author of “Maternal Bereavement,” “The Art of Midlife,” and the best selling, “The Writer’s Guide to Character Traits. She presents papers nationally, consults to business executives, and taught at Northwestern University.