Guest Post: Shift Your Focus and Reduce Anxiety


A guest post from Phyllis Goldberg and Rosemary Lichtman of Her Mentor Center:

Are you in the midst of a fast paced lifestyle, struggling with racing ideas and sleepless nights? If fearful thoughts make you hyper vigilant and put your mind on red alert, join the crowd. There’s been a 1000% increase in the diagnosis of anxiety the past 30 years.

Beginning early on, we all experience periods of anxiety that can recur periodically throughout our lives. Do you remember separation anxiety when you started kindergarten, physical and social changes during middle school, peer pressure and yearning for acceptance in high school, ambivalence around leaving for college?

As adults we are constantly worried about something – family, terrorism, work, health, natural disasters, finances. So while your kids are trying to develop strategies to deal with their own negative emotions, it’s important to monitor your anxiety. You know they’re always watching and how readily they react to your mood changes.

Whereas a certain amount of stress is a natural motivator, more severe anxiety can interfere with your life. In this day and age, we’ve all got lots of balls in the air, trying to balance family life with work and still carve out a little time for ourselves. Wondering what you can do if stress feels like a constant companion? Here are ideas to help you restore balance:

Free yourself from negative feelings. Although you can’t necessarily change the situations you encounter, you can change how you handle them. Face uncertainty with a positive attitude or reframe a pessimistic reaction into a more neutral or optimistic one. By learning more about constructive responses to difficulties, you’ll have access to a wider variety of resources.

Take control of what is within your reach. And have the wisdom to know the difference between what you can manage and what you can’t. Recognize that you don’t have to do it all alone. Sometimes having a series of cognitive behavioral therapy sessions or consulting a psychiatrist about anti-anxiety medication can provide the coping strategies and support you need.

Stay in the moment. Anxiety can make you feel bad about who you are. Don’t beat yourself up about the mistakes you’ve made. Keep in mind that you are human and no one is perfect. Being worried about the past or fearful about the future can keep you stuck. Rather than feeling discouraged and giving up, try something different. You deserve a second chance.

Rely on your own instincts.  Although it’s great to get support from others when you’re frustrated, recognize your hidden internal strength. Trust yourself as you look inside for answers. Emotional discomfort can be a welcome opportunity. It serves as an invitation to grow and leads to greater self understanding.

Spend time relaxing and rejuvenating. Take better care of your body through exercise, healthy nutrition and proper rest as you develop stress relievers. Practice techniques of deep breathing, relaxation or your own form of meditation. Attend to your mind and your spirit. And set aside quiet time to do what it is that brings you joy.

If you want to make life simpler and get back to basics, look at your lifestyle and the choices you’re making. Step back and determine the real stressors. Then consider your options and decide what to change. Take it slow, and add up your small victories. When you make mistakes, learn from them, move on, and leave anxiety behind.

© Her Mentor Center, 2013

Phyllis Goldberg, Ph.D. and Rosemary Lichtman, Ph.D. are consultants in family dynamics. Whether you’re coping with marital stress, acting out teens, aging parents, boomerang kids or difficult in-laws, we have solutions. Visit our website,, for practical tips in dealing with parents growing older & kids growing up

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