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  • Writer's pictureStacy G. Smith, MS, LPC

Overcoming Anxiety: Tip #3

We often waste an enormous amount of mental energy worrying about what is completely out of our control. It can feel like we're running in a hamster wheel - our minds racing, but getting us absolutely nowhere. The problem is, our anxiety often builds to the point where we feel mentally paralyzed, unable to concentrate and focus on everyday tasks and activities we need to accomplish. We can become frustrated, irritable, and overwhelmed.

Remember, when you're feeling stressed in a situation, ask yourself, "what DO I have control over?" "What CAN I do?" Then act. For some, it can be helpful to make a visual, two-column list - one for everything you can control, one for everything you cannot. Glance at it frequently to keep yourself on task.

It will initially take quite a bit of self talk and practice to refocus your mind away from what is out of your control, simply because it is habit. Breaking any habit requires practice. Initially, what you may think is IN your control, may actually be OUT of your control, and vice versa. It can be helpful to enlist the support of family, friends, or a therapist to help you sort out the difference.

Let's use some examples: Think about finding employment. As much as you'd probably like, can you force a future boss to hire you? No. Can you edit your resume and cover letter, practice those difficult interview questions, and ensure you have the proper attire to look the part? Yes! How about at school. Can you determine what questions your professor will put on an exam? No. Can excessive worry magically make the exam easy, so that you'll get an A? Of course not. Can you study the material, seek out help, and ensure you have a good understanding of the given topics? For sure!

Once you've done your part, remind yourself that the rest is out of your hands. No amount of worrying or sleepless nights will help determine the difficulty of your exam, or whether you get hired. The key is to feel confident in your abilities, and know that you did all you could on your end to achieve the results you want. Use your time and energy wisely. Your mind and body will thank you!


DISCLAIMER: The blog posts shared on contain the opinions of Stacy Smith, MS, LPC, and do not reflect the opinions of any organizations or affiliates. While Stacy is a licensed mental health professional, all blog posts on her site are for informational purposes only, and are never a substitute for professional advice catered to your individual needs. Stacy Smith is not liable for any diagnosis, treatment plans, or decisions made based on the information presented on this website. Furthermore, commenting on posts does not mean a treatment relationship has been established with Stacy Smith.​

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