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Davis Journal

Using the 7 R’s for dealing with Anxiety

Feb 27, 2023 09:57AM ● By John Waterbury

Stated very simply, anxiety generally occurs because we don’t understand something. We often interpret these feelings as indications that something bad, or overwhelming, or fearful is going to happen. Generally, depression has to do with the feeling that we want the present to be different than it is, but anxiety is different. It usually is the fear that something bad is going to happen in the future, and that whatever it might be, anxiety makes us believe that we won’t be able to manage it.  

But symptoms are messages, and once we understand the message, we won’t need the symptoms. All parts of life come with a certain measure of uncertainty, but the reality is that we always find ways to live with the uncertainty, either by ourselves or with the help of others. It’s interesting to understand that anxiety only has the control that we give it. We’ve always found a way to manage it, and we are able to grow beyond it, but that may be difficult to remember when we’re in the midst of an anxiety attack.   

So, what should we do? Talk to someone you trust. Find out how others have learned to cope with it.  Talk to a doctor, or make an appointment with a professional therapist. Help comes in many forms, but learning to understand and take charge of our symptoms is a good place to start.  The list below is one I’ve developed over the years, but there are many techniques that will work. 

The 7 R’s for dealing with anxiety:

Relabel the symptom: 

Tell yourself, “It’s not that bad! I can handle that.” Then take charge of your thinking.  You’re not alone. No one ever dies of anxiety.

Reattribute the symptom:

Remind yourself that you are not your anxiety. 

Feelings are chemicals, and when there’s a chemical imbalance, feelings get all mixed up.

Refocus your attention:

Since you can’t make the symptoms go away, decide to go on with the rest of your life

in spite of them. But talk to someone.  

Revalue the symptom:

The symptom is a message that something is out of balance.                                                                   When this message is completely understood and managed, the symptom will go away. 

Reprogram yourself:

Learn the basic tools and techniques to take care of yourself.

Be optimistic.

Remember, “Whether you think you can or can’t, you’re right.”

Redefine yourself:

You are not your symptoms.

You don’t have to stay stuck.

You can choose not to be a victim of your symptoms.

Reframe your world:

Use this experience, learn from it, grow because of it, evolve as a result of it. 

Nobody has to stay stuck, help is all around.      

John Waterbury is a retired Clinical Mental Health Counselor who has lived in Utah since 1984 when he moved to Bountiful with his wife and four children. Since then, he has written a weekly column for several years for the Davis County Clipper titled “The Dear John Letters” which was also used throughout the intermountain West focusing on addiction and mental health problems. This new column will focus on mental health and life management issues.