A little anxiety is normal, but stressing over every single thing is not. Here's how to tackle the problem head on.

By By Amber Herring
June 07, 2015

I've rewritten the first paragraph of this article 20 times and I'm still convinced it's not good enough. I'm an anxious person. If you are too, chances are, you can relate. And to some extent, these feelings are normal: "Some people are just more inclined to worry," explains Alice Boyes, Ph.D., author of The Anxiety Toolkit. But if you're at the point where worry interferes with your day-to-day activities or work, it's time to start addressing it instead of avoiding it. (Related: This Weird Test Could Predict Anxiety and Depression Before You Experience Symptoms.)

After all, anxiety isn't here to paralyze you, but to save you-seriously, it's a part of evolution. "Anxiety is something that we're wired to have," says Boyes. The emotional state characterized by nervousness, worry, and unease is actually our body's alarm system, which helps us to pause and scan for potential threats. However, in overly anxious people, sensitive systems fire too often without good reason. (Learn the 10 Weird Ways Your Body Reacts to Stress.)

The good news: Eliminating paralyzing worry is doable. If you have a clinical disorder, or suffer from panic attacks or depression, your best bet is always to talk to a professional first. But practicing your responses to these five common traps can help send worry packing, too. (Also Worth Mentioning: How This Woman Used Clean Eating to Ease Her Anxiety.)

1. Constantly Asking Yourself, "If I Do This, What Happens Next?"

It's known as cultural uncertainty, and when someone has anxiety and isn't 100 percent sure of what an outcome will be, they have trouble entering into the situation, says Boyes. Example: You don't know what will happen if you leave your current job for a new one (will you regret it? will your boss suck? will you have fewer vacation days?), so you never apply.

Move past it:Replace hesitation with action. Boyes suggests asking yourself, "What's the worst, best, and most realistic outcome?" and writing down the answers. Typically, people with anxiety focus on the negative, but this series of questions forces balanced thinking. Also, it's comforting to worrisome folks to be prepared for the worst. "It's all about that shift in cognitive psychology where you realize you can cope with negative experiences," adds Boyes. (PS: Can Reiki Help With Anxiety?)

2. Ruminating On a Palm-to-Forehead Moment In Your Head

Ever say something stupid in a job interview, only to replay that moment over and over (and over) again in your head? To the point that it's really the only thing you can think about? That's ruminating over something that has happened, says Boyes, and that kind of obsessive worrying is common for people with anxiety. Unfortunately, it can inhibit you from moving forward.


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