Become Friends With Your Anxiety

Available with English captions and subtitles in Spanish.

We all have anxiety—but it’s what we do with that anxiety that makes a difference. For many of us, we find anxiety to be unsettling. Some of us cope with feelings of anxiety pretty well and are more comfortable with unease, worry, or fear.

So what’s their secret to managing anxiety so well? And how can we start shifting our own attitudes toward anxiety to be more positive than terrified?

Audience Questions

Lisa W. Coyne, PhD, unearths the positives about feeling anxious, shares ways to befriend our fear, and answers audience questions about shifting our attitudes about anxiety toward acceptance.

  • Why should I try and be friends with my anxiety?
  • Can you talk about the relationship between fear and anxiety? How can giving in to fear make us more anxious?
  • We all experience anxiety on a daily basis, but at what point is anxiety a problem?
  • Do you have any tips to help us see our anxiety as an object? Do you feel that viewing anxiety this way helps prevent us from feeling like anxiety is not an overwhelming part of our identity?
  • Can you elaborate on the relationship between procrastination and anxiety? How does it feed into itself, and how can we snap out of it
  • I struggle with anxiety and because of that do not use my phone all day. How can I effectively communicate to others that I am not checking my text messages and emails all day?
  • Sometimes I experience physical sensations related to my anxiety, and it makes my anxiety even higher. Do you have any suggestions to counter what I’m feeling?
  • How have you found yourself able to sit comfortably with your anxiety and panic and accomplish big things?
  • I recently started OCD therapy and am skeptical that it will work because I believe my obsessions to be true. Is it possible for my brain to become re-wired if it’s been “taught” to fear obsessions for so long?
  • How can we make our children more aware of their own anxiety and help them to share how they feel?
  • I have adult children who have had treatment for anxiety as kids. As adults I see them scaling their life back, not exploring the world, not finding their passions, etc. Do you have any tips to help them recognize that their anxiety is likely impacting their lives without being an overbearing parent?
  • Does the source of anxiety matter when considering treatment options or coping strategies?
  • I have had experiences with antidepressants where they reduce my levels of worrying to the point where I’m not as productive as I’d like to be. Any suggestions on how to balance these side effects?
  • Is it common for anxiety to get worse at night? If so, why is that?
  • When you have a never-ending to-do list, how do you avoid feeling overwhelmed?
  • Can you recommend strategies for people who are on the autism spectrum and report experiencing physical anxiety?
  • What can I tell my friends and family to better help them understand my having an anxiety disorder without creating frustration in the relationship?
  • My in-law causes me a lot of anxiety as they are insensitive and judge people. They try to reach out so we can be closer, but I feel it’s not good for my mental health. How can I balance these feelings and fears I’m having and still be a good in-law?
  • Winston Churchill once said, “When I look back on all these worries, I remember the story of the old man who said on his deathbed that he’d had a lot of trouble in his life, most of which never happened.” With that being said, how do I stop myself from being anxious about things that have yet to happen?

The information discussed is intended to be educational and should not be used as a substitute for guidance provided by your health care provider. Please consult with your treatment team before making any changes to your care plan.


You may also find this information helpful:

About Dr. Coyne

Lisa W. Coyne, PhD, is an assistant professor of psychology in the Department of Psychiatry, part-time, at Harvard Medical School, and is a senior clinical consultant at the Child and Adolescent OCD Institute (OCDI Jr.) at McLean Hospital.

Dr. Coyne has published numerous peer-reviewed articles and chapters on anxiety, OCD, and parenting. She is the author of “The Joy of Parenting: An Acceptance and Commitment Therapy Guide to Effective Parenting in the Early Years,” a book for parents of young children.

Recent books by Dr. Coyne:

Learn more about Dr. Coyne.

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