Start To Treat Anxiety With These 10 Steps
Anxiety is a common emotion that we all face on a fairly regular basis. We have all had the experience of feeling anxious about meeting a new person, worrying about the future, being late for an appointment or getting into a close call with another car while driving.
Anxiety is an essential emotion for our success in life and our survival as it communicates to us that we perceive a danger or threat in our environment.
We like to teach our clients that anxiety, as well as other emotions, are like ‘road signs’ that we follow while driving. Road signs tell us to ‘Stop’, ‘Slow down’, ‘Yield to oncoming traffic’ and so forth so that we drive safely. Emotions are like ‘road signs’ for life, as they communicate different information to us. For a complete understanding of this topic, you can consult our Toolkit: Why Do We Have Emotions.
How do you know if anxiety has become a problem?
Therapy For Anxiety: Do I Need Treatment For Anxiety?
Anxiety is considered a problem by mental healthcare workers if the level of anxiety is interfering with a person’s functioning in important domains of their life. They include at work, with leisure activities, with personal well-being and in interpersonal relationships.
Here are some sure signs that anxiety is a significant problem:
- You feel anxious most of the time and dread the feeling.
- You are avoiding situations, places and people e.g. seeing loved ones, going to the movies, going out to public places or elevators.
- You cannot sleep or do not feel rested when you wake up.
- You cannot concentrate.
- You feel tense, nervous, restless or wound-up frequently.
- You have muscle pains and tension.
- You feel tired all the time.
- When anxious you feel that you will lose control, go crazy or die.
- Thinking about past events makes you feel anxious and distressed.
- You are always on guard and scanning your surroundings for danger.
For a more comprehensive list, you can complete our Self Assessment tool.
Therapy For Anxiety In 10 Steps
Here are our 10 steps to anxiety relief to help you get started.
1. Educate yourself on anxiety by reading the Self-Help Toolkit: How To Overcome Anxiety.
- Pay close to attention to the fact that anxiety is not dangerous in and of itself even though it is a very uncomfortable feeling. This point is an essential fact that we try to communicate during anxiety therapy.
2. Use Diaphragmatic Breathing to help relieve anxiety.
- Make sure that when you are breathing that your belly is moving in-and-out like a balloon. Breathing too fast and with your chest can result in an increase in oxygen in your blood stream which can lead to feelings of dizziness, light-headedness, confusion, blurred vision, chest pains and feelings of depersonalization.
3. Watching your negative ‘self-talk’ or ‘inner dialogue’ is another important tool in anxiety therapy.
- Changing your thoughts can help you overcome anxiety. There is a wide body of evidence from Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) showing that thoughts are what lead to emotions. Thus, your thinking can trigger and maintain anxiety. Pay close attention to extreme anxiety-provoking beliefs like, “I am weak, vulnerable, helpless and abnormal”. If you need a hand, read my free Toolkit: How To Change Negative Thinking.
4. Facing anxiety is like confronting a bully.
- To help you out, remember the following powerful acronym for fear: False Evidence Appears Real. Write down facts for and against your fears. Think of these facts when you are faced with anxiety.
5. Avoidance is the fuel for anxiety.
- Do not avoid, flee or rush through situations that make you anxious. Instead, expose yourself to your fears starting off with the easier ones. Read our Toolkit on Exposure Therapy to help you out. Exposing yourself slowly to what makes you anxious is a powerful tool that helps treat anxiety, as you learn that your fear is not real and that you can face it as well.
6. Measuring success properly is another important facet of anxiety treatment.
- A lack of avoidance is a success even if you are anxious during exposure. When you stop avoiding, do not expect your anxiety to be at 0% right away. It takes some time for anxiety to decrease. Remember that it would be easier to avoid, so the fact you do not, despite being anxious, is a sign of strength and success.
7. Do things slowly during exposure.
- Do not rush in and out of a store for example. This behaviour is similar to avoiding and is not exposure. Take your time and use the other techniques described above e.g. breathing properly and talking back to anxiety-provoking thoughts. In addition, rushing can increase your heart rate, make you sweat, breath faster, etc., all of which are symptoms of anxiety. Thus, rushing and doing things quickly could trigger anxiety.
8. Learn to tolerate anxiety.
- Anxiety is uncomfortable, but you can learn to tolerate it slowly with exposure. If you do not avoid, anxiety will reach a plateau and then slowly decrease. Anxiety is an emotion that expends tremendous energy, thus it cannot go on forever.
9. You always win!
- Another important point in anxiety treatment is remembering that you always win with anxiety as it always goes away. Learning to wait and not be so scared of anxiety will help you overcome anxiety and increase your self-confidence that you can face it.
10. Balance your life with work and play.
- You are more than just your anxiety. Engaging in pleasurable activities will help you focus less on anxiety and instead on other ‘feel-good’ emotions like fun, excitement and joy. Positive emotions serve as an antidote to relieve anxiety.
Anxiety is definitely an unpleasant emotion, although necessary for our survival and even our success in life. We trust that you will find the information we have provided valuable in helping you to address any issues you may have with difficulty managing anxiety that may be negatively affecting your life.
If you feel that you need additional support, do not hesitate to Contact Me to book an appointment for more in depth help or for a brief phone consultation.
If you appreciate and use these suggestions, please join with us and help us to fulfill our mission to promote the use of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) in your area. If you use Twitter, please “Tweet” our suggestions and ‘Like’ both this Blog as well as the Montreal Therapy & Psychological Wellness Centre on Facebook.