Anxiety is caused, worsened or perpetuated by stress. And unfortunately, there is no shortage of stress in daily life. Interspersed between the consistent, low-grade, wear-you-down-over-time type of stress, all of us have days of fast-paced, unrelenting and "sharp pain" aggravations.

One common source of stress that fuels anxiety is the tendency to take on too many responsibilities at once. That makes delegating tasks to others is a great way to reduce your anxiety.

It's true that you may worry about whether the person to whom you assign the task or tasks will get the job done. But the stress associated with juggling numerous responsibilities throughout the day is lessened. As a result, you're less stressed, more efficient and effective, and avoid the nagging thought of, "How am I going to get everything done today?"

Below are a few delegation tips to get you going. If you follow each step in order, you're virtually guaranteed to gain more control of your anxiety.

Learn to let go. You first need to let go of the notion that you, and only you, can correctly do what needs to be done. The world is filled with lots of competent people. Trust that those around you are able to ease your burden. (Just keep in mind that their level of willingness to ease your burden may well be a different issue.)

Choose the right person. Before dishing out responsibilities, figure out what you think you need to do versus what others can do. For example, if asking your husband to pick up the kids after school will cause you to worry all day, then you may want to hang on to this task. Asking him to pick up some milk at the local commissary may be a better option. The goal is to let go of time-intensive tasks that will have minimal consequences if they're not done while maintaining control of those responsibilities deemed to be highest priority.

Be specific. People do better when they know exactly what's expected. When you delegate something to someone, make sure to spell out exactly what it is you need help with. For example, instead of saying, "Can you take care of the kids tonight?" say, "Can you give Katie a bath, help Jake brush his teeth, and make sure they have lunches packed for tomorrow?"

Follow up. If you want to make sure something doesn't get done, assign a task and forget about it. An important part of delegating responsibility is following up and making sure the task is completed. People are more likely to come through when they know someone will be checking on the final product. This should be no surprise for those in uniform — it's an implied aspect of being a good leader.

Bret A. Moore, Psy.D., is a board-certified clinical psychologist who served two tours in Iraq. Email him at kevlarforthemind@ This column is for informational purposes only and is not intended to convey specific psychological or medical guidance.

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