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Tips for Gaining Mastery of Your Anxiety

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panic attack word cloudAll human being experience at least some anxiety. Although impossible to eliminate, cognitive-behavioral therapy for anxiety (CBT) offers principles for helping to master excessive anxiety. The following tips can also help you handle anxious feelings.


Mind over mood.

Excessive anxiety is almost always associated with negative thoughts, beliefs or images. When we are anxious (or sad or angry), we view the world “through dark-colored glasses,” creating negative thoughts that maintain and/or heighten anxiety. To better cope, identify your scary thoughts, and then look for evidence (hard facts) to counter and negate those thoughts. Identify an alternative, more balanced way of thinking about the issue.

Face your fear.

Avoidance often brings some immediate relief but does nothing to reduce anxiety and may contribute to maintaining it in the long run. Replace avoidant patterns of behavior with gradual increasing exposure to the triggers of one’s anxiety. For example, if one is fearful of public speaking, practice in front of a small group and build up to a medium-sized group and then a large group of people, until the anxiety subsides.

Accept your anxiety.

Many struggle to fight or escape when they start to experience excessive anxiety. This fear creates a vicious cycle: we get anxious about something in the environment (work, school, a relationship, etc.) and then get anxious about our initial anxiety response. They harder we fight, the more power we give it. Work on accepting your anxiety rather than fighting it.


This article comes from an issue of Institute News Online, the families tri-annual newsletter. It was written by Rick Zinbarg, PhD, the Institute’s Patricia M. Nielsen Research Chair and Director of The Family Institute’s Anxiety and Panic Laboratory. To learn more about Dr. Zinbarg or our anxiety services, visit our website.

Our upcoming Circle of Knowledge event, Straight A’s & Stressed: Navigating childhood, teen and young adult anxiety also deals with issues of how to manage anxious feelings. See below for the event details and visit our website for more information.

Straight A’s & Stressed: Navigating childhood, teen and young adult anxiety

Friday, April 10, 2015
10:30 a.m. registration, 11:00 a.m.-12:30 p.m. presentation & lunch
Exmoor Country Club, 700 Vine Avenue, Highland Park

$25 per person, space is limited
Register online today!
Deadline to register: April 3, 2015

For more information, call 312-609-5300, ext. 480 or email

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