Give yourself a break
Worrying about worrying is a real problem, and people who are anxious by nature are often shamed—by others and themselves—with labels like “worrywart,” “killjoy,” or “party pooper.” But calling yourself names and feeling ashamed of your anxiety only makes the problem worse, Nanavati says. (And make sure you’re not confusing your stress for anxiety—you should aim to reduce both but your body experiences each one differently.) “Buddha said we are all struck by two darts: The first is a painful event and the second is how we respond to that pain,” he explains. “Instead of being mad at yourself or asking ‘Why me?’ recognize that you control how you respond to your emotions.” Don’t get caught up in the self-reinforcing anxiety cycle of “What if” and refocus on positive thoughts.
Anxiety can be downright paralyzing, which in turn can cause even more anxiety. Combat this by doing something, anything, to break the cycle, Burton says. “Anxiety is fear plus helplessness. Depending on the scope of the situation, and how much it impacts you, choose to get involved to the extent that you can.Whether it’s calling your sick friend to offer tangible help or giving blood after a disaster, finding a way to actively contribute can help you feel a sense of empowerment in anxiety-provoking situations,” she says.