NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — From work, to the kids — people have a lot to worry about.

Even small stuff, like gift-giving and holiday family gatherings, cause us to worry — for up to two hours a day, according to a new study out of the UK.

When you do the math, that adds up to as many as as five years off your life. It’s time you could be spending doing something else — not to mention the health hazards worrying can cause.

“When stress is controlling us, it could be a killer,” said clinical psychologist Dr. Bart Rossi, clinical psychologist.

Just ask Rosy Gil, 36, who was diagnosed with panic attacks in her early 20s.

“Heart racing; thinking you’re really ill,” she said.

Rossi said there are very specific ways you can break this cycle of worry.

“What we need to do is to come up with some plan, some strategy — and as I said, changing the expectation level that you have,” Rossi said.

Having a strategy will help you feel more in control, according to Rossi. He also suggests imagining where you’d like to be in six months, in terms of the problem.

“What do I have to do between here and there to make a difference?” he said.

• Talking about your worries and concerns can help ease them;

• Knowing all the facts about something worrisome can help prevent your imagination from running wild;

• Listing your worries on paper can actually help you realize that some of them may never come to fruition.

Another bit of advice: doctors say you should never worry about your past, you can’t change it and worrying about things you have no control over, is a waste of time.

For Gil, these coping strategies helped relieve her panic attacks.

“Everybody has difficulty, take a step back and look at what we can do to change the way we think,” Rossi said.


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