Many of my clients often ask, "What can I do to reduce my anxiety?" While my response often varies depending on an individual's specific situation, there are three core recommendations I often suggest that can help almost anyone.
1) Identify the Source of Your Stress - understanding who and/or what is causing your stress is the first step to reducing your anxiety. If you are able to identify what is causing your worry/anxiety, the next step is to ask yourself, "Is there anything I can do to change it?" Answering such a question can give you an opportunity to evaluate your situation and clarify any choices, if any, you may have.
2) Learn How To Manage - If you can reduce your anxiety, knowing how you can change it and taking action is important. Whether you are in the process of changing it or even if you are unable to make any changes, learning how to manage the anxiety is vital to maintaining your ability to continue functioning. Engaging in activities you find relaxing or finding an outlet for your worry may help release the negative emotions/symptoms associated with your situation. For some, going to the gym, knitting, watching a comedy, meditation, or simply a nice hot shower are a few of the activities they engage in so as to distract their mind and focus their thoughts on something enjoyable.
3). Try, Try and Try Again - learning what coping strategies are best for you is a trial and error process. What works best for one person, may not work well for you. I often encourage individuals to try various techniques until they find something that helps them relax. Of course, it is critical to first rule out any medical explanations for symptoms you may be experiencing like headaches, digestion issues, heart palpitations, etc. Also, if you are finding it difficult to reduce your anxiety on your own, it is important to understand the role therapy can play in helping you. In some cases, therapy can simply help individuals understand why they are stressed, while for others it is a form of guidance that helps clarify what options are available.
Self-esteem is defined by the Oxford Dictionary of Psychology as "one's attitude towards oneself or one's opinion or evaluation of oneself, which may be positive, neutral, or negative." Low self-esteem, in particular, is characterized by self-doubt, relationship insecurities, lack of confidence, sensitivity to criticism, and difficulty making decisions.
Individuals with low self-esteem tend to have a negative attitude, anxiety, unhealthy relationships, and/or have a tendency to self-sabotage good things in their life. Friendships, family interactions and one's career can all be affected by low self-esteem especially if he/she believes, "I'm not good enough," "I’ll never amount to anything," “I suck at everything,” "I'm not worthy."
Such beliefs can cloud a person's judgment and affect the way he/she perceives situations around them. For example, being passed up for a promotion may be interpreted as not "being good enough" when in fact the individual may have not taken the steps necessary to show interest or initiative. Having low self-esteem is not the end all, be all as there are ways to overcome this type of thinking. Below are a few suggestions on how you can begin improving your feelings of low self-esteem:
Acknowledge Your Positive Qualities - we all have positive attributes but recognizing them and owning them can be hard to do, especially if we have a tendency to focus on our negative traits. In order to counteract negative thinking, you may find making a list of your talents, skills and feel-good experiences to be helpful. Listing any compliments you have received regarding your personality, work, etc., can be beneficial as well. Composing such a list and referring to it when you feel you are doubting yourself can help to challenge these negative beliefs.
Surround Yourself With Positive People - being around people who are positive and supportive can help you build your confidence, improve your personal and professional relationships and reduce feelings associated with self-doubt. By interacting with positive, supportive family, friends and colleagues, you are more than likely to be challenged to think differently and engage in activities you may have otherwise avoided. Being around supportive people can also help to provide you with motivation to achieve successes you initially thought to be impossible.
Consider Therapy - in some cases, engaging is the above tasks is not enough to overcome low self-esteem, especially if the belief is deeply ingrained because of past traumatic experiences. Getting help from a mental health professional can help you understand the root of the problem, how certain factors in your life may be contributing to your low self-esteem and explore ways you can overcome your negative thoughts.
The holiday season, for the most part, brings a sense of excitement and happiness to many individuals who look forward to being around family and friends, celebrating traditions, and having shorter work weeks. There are, however, other sentiments that individuals experience as well that are not as often discussed; Anxiety, anger, exhaustion, depressed are just a few.
Anxiety - Holidays often equate to participating in family gatherings, which depending on family dynamics, can cause an individual to worry about various things. Concerns regarding religious and/or political disagreements, mom's approval of a new partner, whether dad will continue to express his disappointment with your career choice, etc., are just a few. Stressing about caring for your parents or spouse can also can also provoke anxiety .
Depression - individuals who lack a support system, are not involved in a significant relationship or are going through a life-hardship can feel depressed and isolated. This time of year can trigger one's feeling of loneliness. Questions like, "What are you doing for the holiday?" and/or relationship oriented commercials can serve as reminders of what they don't currently have.
Emotional exhaustion - sometimes the mere thought of all the planning, traveling and socializing a person will have to engage in, is enough to bring about a "cloud of gloom" or a sense of " being worked up." In other cases, memory of last year's disorder, dysfunction or drama can serve as a reminder of what an individual does not want to experience again. Plus, let's not forget the multitude of questions/interrogations from friends and family an individual may have to respond to regarding the status of their life (i.e. being single, having children, etc.)
With all of that said, it is important to be aware of your feelings during this time of year and learn how to cope and control them so as to prevent it from getting the better of you. Talking with friends and family you trust can help you learn how to best address your concerns. In some cases, a therapeutic professional can also prove beneficial to help sort out the various thoughts/feelings that some individuals don't fully understand.
Do you notice a negative affect on your well-being during the holiday season? Please share your thoughts below as well as any questions you may have.