If you have anxiety, you’ve probably noticed at one point or another your heartbeat escalating, your thoughts racing, and feelings of nausea, fatigue, dizziness, etc. Anxiety is caused by worry, nervousness, or unease typically surrounding an event or something with an unpredictable outcome. Thankfully, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) has been shown to help many people with anxiety; in fact, it’s one of the most effective, widely-used therapies for this issue. If you’re ready to incorporate CBT into your daily life, begin taking control over your anxiety by following these steps:
Step 1: Begin taking note of your thoughts, feelings, and sensations in a log. Get a journal and write down every instance that you feel anxiety. What are your thoughts at the time? What situation is this regarding? Did someone say or do something to make you feel this way? How would you describe your feelings? What physical sensations are you feeling (ex. sweaty palms, heart racing, etc.)? Lastly, how did your anxiety influence the situation/interaction? For example – did it cause you to leave an event early? Not go at all? Taking inventory of these can help you become an investigator of your own reactions.
Step 2: Recognize patterns that are coming from these notes. Is there a certain time of day you experience anxiety the most? What about a specific person or place that tends to lead you to a lot of anxiety? Highlight commonalities between your experiences – with assorted colors if that makes it easier for you.
Step 3: Do a cost-benefit analysis. As you review the notes you’ve taken so far, write another list that weights out the benefits and the consequences to having this anxiety. For example, how has having anxiety helped you? In what situations has it caused more pain or discomfort, when it didn’t really need to? This is your change to get an understanding for how anxiety is affecting your life.
Step 4: Create alternative ways to react. What can you think to yourself that will make you more at ease, more confident, and less worried? For example, if you’re nervous about going to a work gathering, write the following thought: “The gathering will go well, and I’m excited to get to know other people.” Even if you don’t necessarily feel that way, stick with these positive thoughts.
Step 5: Practice daily, no matter how you’re feeling. This is a great start to CBT – towards changing your thought processes towards something more positive and productive. Practice this every day, no matter how you’re feeling.
Avalon Malibu is a world-renowned, California state-licensed mental health and substance abuse recovery center. If you are ready to seek treatment to develop the tools you need to overcome life’s obstacles and be on the road towards happiness, health, and well-being, contact us today at 855-668-9094 for a consultation. It’s never too late, and there are people here ready to help you.