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Take your finger off the fear trigger

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Nearly half of U.S. workers say they’re afraid and stressed about their ability to provide for their families’ basic needs (APA’s Annual Stress in America Survey). So it’s no surprise that workplace fatigue, depression, headaches and other stress-driven symptoms are on the rise.

How do people cope? Nearly half the group admits to overeating to manage stress (and the true number is probably higher). A smaller chunk says they drink and smoke.

Here are four healthier techniques for turning fear into courage, according to Judith Orloff (www.judithorloff. com), a psychiatrist and author of Emotional Freedom: Liberate Yourself from Negative Emotions and Transform Your Life:

• Calm down your stress hormones. “Eliminate or avoid people and situations that induce the stress response in your body, which speeds up your pulse and mimics the feeling of fear,” advises Orloff. On the list: caffeine, sugar and other stimulants; emotional vampires; violent news stories; traffic jams; and arguments.

• Identify your fear triggers.
Pick a fear, such as getting laid off. What brings on that fear? Bad news from your industry? Seeing a co-worker laid off? Be as specific as you can.

“Identifying triggers keeps you from being caught off guard the next time one crosses your path,” Orloff says. “Without the ‘boo factor,’ fear triggers lose their potency."

• Take a tiny, doable step.
Identify a fear, such as not being able to pay your credit card bill. Next, think of a small, positive step: “I will call the credit card company and renegotiate my fees so I can make a smaller monthly payment.”

“Notice the change in how your body feels?” says Orloff. Finally, take that step. “Now you feel brave, not fearful because you are taking positive action.” Once energized, you’ll be motivated to take another small step toward another fear.

Stay in the “now.” Don’t catastrophize about the future. Orloff says, “Stay focused on what you’re grateful for now and the positive changes you can make today.”

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