Therapists Reveal the Best Ways to Stay Sane

There’s no denying we could all use a little escape from our day-to-day stress and seemingly endless to-do lists. Anxiety seems to plague our society like never before, affecting approximately 18% of the U.S. adult population (40 million people), according to the National Institute of Mental Health.

Part of the reason for this staggering amount of anxiety is the influx of technology and the mental demands and little down time it requires. “Life moves quickly and doesn’t shut down. It can be difficult, and near impossible, for the average person or even techy to keep up with all the changes and advances,” Dr. Vivian Sierra, a marriage and family therapist in Saint Louis, Missouri, said in an interview with The Cheat Sheet. So to help you find some mental peace when the going gets tough, we asked top experts in the field of psychology to share their best sanity saving solutions.

1. Adopt strategies that will help you cope

A man writes a to-do list

Develop coping mechanisms that will help you persevere through life’s difficult moments. | iStock.com

“Learning about coping styles will help you develop a sense of self-efficacy and rational optimism, which are both essential for dealing with anxiety provoking circumstances,” Dr. Brenner said.

First, consider how you normally cope with certain circumstances. Then, determine which strategies are helping you and which ones may be hindering you. For example, denial can work in the short-term, such as as when someone is waiting for a scary medical diagnosis — you don’t want to spend the whole week thinking worst case scenarios when there’s nothing you can do until you get the information. On the other hand, if you’ve just learned difficult news, actively engaging is the right response, because denial will keep you from dealing with the problem.

“In general, people who use a lot of avoidance do poorly in the long-run,” Dr. Brenner said. “Cultivating adaptive coping approaches, such as active coping, reappraisal, acceptance, and related tools, will serve to lower your anxiety and increase your sense of self-efficacy.”

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