I figured that whilst I’m feeling a bit better I could get some of the missed blogs caught up on, and this one is particularly relevant, not just to myself but for a few people that I know of late. For this particular moment (23:46hrs) the black dog is resting, so I’m taking advantage and getting some work done. I’m currently running at about 50% which is about 35 more than yesterday, I’m not going to tempt fate and jinx it as I have done a few times in the past month. I’m neither up nor down so I’ll leave it at that….
CBT techniques are very easy to implement at home, if you know what to do and how to do it, so I’ll try to convey a few things that may very well help you.
This particular spawn of cognitive and behavioural therapy has taken the world of psychiatry by storm since its conception in the 90’s.
It has become the go to source for rehabilitating anything anxiety related. This despite originally being developed as a therapeutic option for depression.
A pretty cool quality of CBT is its ability to help even without professional therapy. Many of the techniques taught during sessions of CBT are in fact just as simple to integrate at home.
This is not to say that professional therapy is now obsolete. In some cases it is absolutely necessary for recovery, and in most cases, it does make recovery quicker and more effective.
Do not hesitate to seek professional help if your anxiety appears uncontrollable. With that in mind, here is a few CBT techniques to eliminate anxiety.
Write down harmful thoughts…
A top symptom and cause of anxiety are irrational thoughts, this is an area I struggle with, this 4 years of suicide, self harm and self destruct. An anxiety episode can seem to appear out of nowhere because only a fraction of these harmful thoughts linger long enough to make it into consciousness.
Most of our thoughts will in fact never be experienced. They appear and disappear long before we notice their existence.
A consequence of this is that our anxiety triggers and the thoughts they cause can go unnoticed. But the physical reactions caused by the thoughts, like anxiety and panic, are always very apparent.
See, we don’t need to be consciously aware of our anxious thoughts for them to set off an internal alarm system. So whenever you start feeling anxious for no good reason, search through your last thoughts.
When we learn to catch these thoughts, we can examine and challenge them. Examining and challenging our anxious thoughts is a very effective way to control anxiety.
“Why should I go through the trouble of writing them down?”
Great question. I and many other bloggers/writers are living proof that it CAN aid recovery, well it works for me, doesn’t mean it’ll work for everyone and besides, you won’t know unless you try.
Writing about/journaling the bad thoughts is the key to understanding them. It might be possible to examine a thought without writing it down, but it’ll not be as effective.
When we write down our thoughts it causes a very real change in perspective. It makes it easier to be fair and objective. But that’s not all, with a written record of our thoughts we can also begin to answer questions like:
How often does this thought enter my mind?
What kind of situations cause these thoughts?
Is there a pattern to the thoughts?
Do some thoughts often cluster together?
Do some thoughts often cause others?
This deep understanding of our anxious thinking puts us on the front foot. We are giving ourselves the ability to subconsciously block harmful thoughts in the future.
Examine and challenge your thoughts…
When we have caught some of our harmful thoughts and written them down in our journal we can begin the process of examining and challenging. After all, it wouldn’t be much help if we just left them there in our diary.
What we will find at this point is that our anxious brain is completely unreliable when it comes to judging dangerous situations.
Some thoughts will be easier to challenge than others. We should nonetheless challenge everything we have written down.
“It is unlikely that my credit card gets declined, and even if it does, I always carry a bit of cash with me.”
“That spider couldn’t even hurt me if it tried, and regardless it is obviously more afraid of me than I am of it.”
“That person won’t hate me because I didn’t have time to hang out today, that’s a silly assumption.”
Everything can and should be challenged in the same way.
Some ideas are more difficult to shake. When we encounter a belief that is difficult to challenge we can try to imagine that this belief is held by a dear friend, and that we’re trying to help them.
Even after writing our thoughts down, it can be difficult to analyse them objectively, but we can often find it in ourselves to be more logical and unbiased when helping someone else.
“You studied lots for this test, and you know you answered at least half of the questions correctly. Maybe you won’t get the best grade, but of course you will pass! You should be proud of the effort you put in, not the outcome.
The more thoughts we write down, examine, and challenge, the more effective our brains will be at making accurate judgements in the future. We’ll see our levels of anxiety begin to drop as soon as we reach that point, and it’ll only get easier from there on.
Practice solution-oriented thinking
Most of the thinking we do is solution-oriented.
“Where did I leave my keys?”
“What should I say next?”
“How many eggs do I need for this recipe?”
But some types of thinking, especially those seen in anxiety disorders, are the exact opposite of solution-oriented. Rumination, worry, and mind-wandering to mention a few. They are what some might call over thinking.
When we engage in over thinking we are manufacturing our own unhappiness and worry. Nothing good comes from obsessing about how much money we owe, how much time we have left in this lifetime, or about that one time we tripped in front of our crush at school.
It is not always unhealthy to spend a lot of time thinking about a particular issue or event. Some problems require a lot of time, and must be attacked from many angles before a solution can be found. As long as your mindset is one of problem-solving, you should be perfectly fine.
Some find solace in setting aside time now and then to freely over think. As long as it is happening in a controlled environment it can actually be very healthy and therapeutic.
Accept your anxiety…
This is not the first time I mention the concept of embracing anxiety. Making a friend of my anxiety was a topic of a recent blog that I wrote and I received a lot of conversation on the topic with quite a few of you.
How to calm down during a panic attack..
The idea is that trying to fight, avoid, or otherwise struggle against the feelings of anxiety only increase negative emotions.
Naturally, trying to oppose anxiety means spending time thinking about anxiety, or trying very hard not to. It means we have to spend time and energy, that could be directed toward something positive, thinking about something we consider bad and negative.
Not only is this mindset a huge road block for recovery, people who engage in this kind of thinking experience depression both more frequently and more intensely.
The healthiest course of action is to accept and observe what we are feeling, but without reacting, without becoming emotionally invested. The truth is that anxiety is not something negative, it is not something we need to fight or hate. It just is.
Get to know your anxiety…
“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.” – Sun Tzu.
What I do is actively seek more knowledge, not only about anxiety in general, but specifically about your anxiety and your symptoms…
Write about your own experiences, you don’t have to do it publicly like I am, it can be kept perfectly private.
The theory is that through immersion in the subject a resilience towards anxiety will develop naturally.
It’s easier to handle a panic attack if you know it is not a heart attack.
It’s easier to accept and face anxiety without fear if you know what anxiety is.
It’s easier to cope with anxiety if you have a support network that knows exactly what you’re going through. I’m fortunate enough to have that great support network, however, it didn’t come without taking steps completely outside of my comfort zone and going public. Nobody has to do what I’ve done to take back control, all thats needed is to speak up and make sure it’s with somebody/persons that you know will help and not hinder you in your efforts. Much love!
Till next time