I have learned a great deal about cognitive therapy techniques as a way to make changes in my own life.
A life with anxiety.
It is common for most people to occasionally feel a bit of nervousness or fear in certain situations or with certain people. We may become apprehensive about meeting new people, taking an exam, speaking in front of a group, starting a new job or losing a job, dealing with health or life changes, etc. Sometimes these feelings encourage us to make different choices, take a new direction, overcome obstacles or to expand our skills or knowledge.
However, some tend to suffer from such extreme forms of anxiety that they might live in constant fear about the future. This fear tends to override enjoying many activities, interactions, and their life in general. They may also become too overwhelmed and lose sight of their ability to make progress or to take healthy risks.
Suffering from anxiety
Feelings of anxiety are often brought on by an excessive fear or worry that something bad will happen. These fears tend to leave sufferers feeling powerless about the real or over-exaggerated problems that surround them.
People with anxiety syndrome may believe that if they can somehow control an outcome, an event, or what others think or do then they can somehow prevent these feared outcomes and create the outcomes that they desire. They may become over directive in their attempts to achieve perfection and can become distraught over sudden changes or mishaps.
This need to control outcomes creates even more stress for them as well as for others around them. Often, their attempt to prevent chaos might create its own form of chaos.
The agonizing physical affects of anxiety.
Anxiety often leaves one feeling restless and on edge, irritable, easily overwhelmed, exhausted and suffering from muscle tension. They usually have trouble sleeping, have short & shallow breaths, heart palpitations, trembling or shaking, dizziness, abdominal discomfort, numbness, feeling at a loss, and even difficulties concentrating due to the constant details that they obsess over.
Anxiety sufferers may live in a constant state of extreme apprehension, tension, and uneasiness as they dwell on the prospect of things going badly. Everything has a potentially hazardous outcome in their minds.
Reducing anxiety without prescription meds is possible; a cognitive approach to anxiety.
Learning to control anxiety can be done through redirecting habitual thought processes. I have learned that many people suffering from an anxiety disorder have witnessed anxiety syndrome throughout their family. Therefore, the thought processes behind the feelings of anxiety are often learned and habitually developed.
The is good to know because a learned behavior can be changed and replaced with new habits for dealing with situations. Rather than continue to live every day in worry, fear, and panic, consider the possibility of a cognitive approach to anxiety. I have used these methods myself in order to better control anxiety. By changing your thoughts, habits, and processes, you can learn to relax more, trust in new ideas, trust that you will handle difficulties, deal with differences better, and be able to enjoy your days, events and interactions more.
Focus less on the potential problem and more on a realistic and positive outcome.
1. A very important way to control anxiety is to pay attention to your negative self-talk, both inward and outward. Be aware of destructive thoughts and take a realistic inventory on the probability of this happening. Anything can be possible. But the rate of probability is more within the realistic likelihood. Rate your fear on a scale of 1 to 10. If you find that the probability rates low, then you can consider lowering your level of concern.
2. It's also good to think about all the things that can go well rather than focusing primarily on the bad possibilities. Learn to trust that the world won’t end if things aren't perfect and that you can develop skills to deal with problems as they arise. You can learn to enjoy the good that is happening at the moment rather than dwelling on minor imperfections.
3. Once you start worrying, your mind tends to repeat and obsess over the same thoughts and unnecessary concerns. Practice ways to manage your anxieties, such as managing your thoughts, doing relaxation techniques and deep breathing. By redirecting your thoughts, you create new thought processes and patterns in your brain.
4. Write down all of your worries on a sheet of paper and consider which of those concerns you truly have no control over. For instance, you can not change events that have already happened, and you can't predict or be certain of the events and outcomes that are going to happen; you can't change or control what other people think, feel or decide to do; you can't control the weather, the economy, or if your company begins to lay off employees. What you can control is your own thoughts, actions, and responses. By accepting what you can't control you can learn to release them from your mind. It does no good to obsess over things you have no control over; doing so won’t change a thing.
Now that you have a better idea of what you can control, write these down then put together a reasonable solution to work on. It may even help to break your task down into smaller, more manageable steps.
5. During the night, while you're laying there thinking of the things you’ve “gotta do,” remind yourself that most things can wait until morning and that you can deal with them much better if you get some good sleep. You can also keep a notepad next to your bed and write down your to-do list for the morning, but remind yourself that it can wait until then.
6. Tell yourself "STOP" when your mind begins to run off with fears and worries, especially during the night. Sometimes it helps to envision a stop sign or a stop light when you say “stop” to the racing concerns in your mind.
Changing cognitive behaviors to control anxiety with positive thoughts.
Thoughts we have and the way we talk to ourselves determines how we feel. The words we say become our reality. So, whenever you find yourself thinking negatively or worrying excessively, you must replace the negative words with positive thoughts and solutions. Affirmation exercises are a great way to redirect the mind from disastrous thinking towards creating a more calm and positive perspective. Affirmations for reducing anxiety may include statements such as:
"I know I can make it through this. But, first I must become calm rather than fearful and tense."
"I can see the positive side that will result when I take positive action over focusing on the bad possibilities."
"If I am going to succeed, I need to be calm and responsible for my own feelings and actions rather than obsessing about what others around me do."
“I am able to respond better to situations when I take care of myself. I choose to put care for myself above obsessive worry and fear.”
“What is the worst that can happen? Is that a realistic probability? How realistic is it? If that does happen, I trust that I can handle it. For now, I wish to enjoy this moment.”
Breathe to help control anxiety thoughts.
Don't forget to take deep cleansing breaths. People who suffer from anxiety, stress, and panic disorders tend to hold their breath a lot or take short, shallow breaths. Count to four while you inhale slowly and deeply, then to four while you exhale. This helps to keep your breathing consistent and help your muscles to relax. This is important as stress tends to make muscles tense and results in physical aches & pains, hyperventilation, hypertension, and dizziness.
What you consume may consume you.
Certain substances, such as caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, salt, saturated fats, starches, and sugar or corn sweeteners tend to aggravate feelings of anxiety. Reduce these substances and consume more whole fruits, whole grains, vegetables, soy proteins, and foods containing Omega-3's into the daily diet. Also, avoid eating on the run or skipping meals as these may result in more stress-related physical and emotional symptoms.
Exercise to reduce feelings of anxiety.
Routine exercise is a very effective way to help manage anxiety and stress. When you feel overwhelmed by stress, getting out and going for a walk can help clear your mind, ease tension in your muscles and create better blood flow. Routine exercise can even reduce migraines, muscle and joint stiffness, depression, and help improve your quality of sleep.
Consider herbal and alternative options to help treat anxiety.
Yoga, relaxation techniques, meditation, tai chi, qi gong, muscle massage, acupuncture, and acupressure are all good hands-on remedies with specific methods for reducing stress. Learn more about these options and find out what methods work best for you.
Herbal supplements that may provide a mild relaxant to help reduce feelings of anxiety include chamomile, lemon balm, skullcap, valerian, or passionflower.
Aromatherapies from the essential oils of lavender, jasmine, or blue chamomile are also known to have a calming effect.
Note: Before taking herbal remedies, be sure to learn all you can about the herb, its benefits, suggested doses and any warnings associated with it. Be sure to converse with a medical expert about taking herbs with prescribed medications.
Patience & Persistence
Be patient with yourself. It takes at least three months to develop new habits. It took me a few months to begin to notice the impact of these efforts and even longer to feel like I had a grip over the anxiety habits. I still struggle with anxiety from time to time. But the more you exercise your mind and practice the methods, the easier it gets to gain control of the anxiety thoughts. Be consistent and persistent with your efforts, in the long run, you’ll find it will be well worth the time and attention you’ve put into it all!
If you feel you are unable to control anxiety yourself, consider further guidance from therapists, a medical doctor, self-help books, or holistic healers.
Cognitive Therapy and Anxiety
- Self Help - Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy (CBT) | AnxietyBC
Learning about Anxiety: An important first step in overcoming a psychological problem is to learn more about it.
- Therapy for Anxiety Disorders: Cognitive and Behavioral Approaches
Therapy can be very effective for anxiety disorders. Learn how it works.
- Depression Cycle, Redirecting Your Mind over the Matter
Since thoughts feed into our feelings and those feelings feed back into our thoughts, these negative thoughts can keep us trapped in a viscous cycle of self defeat and depression.
- Being Optimistic through Adversity
People who are optimists manage to maintain a positive outlook, even during the most difficult times. Those who are optimistic are more likely than pessimists to be active problem solvers and to seek information that can help them through such diffic
- Repressed Anger; The Volcano Within
Repressed anger and resentment might have a tendency to grow within us, like a volcano building up heat and steam before erupting, when we become overly helpful to others.
© 2012 Mary Roark
Mary Roark (author) from Boise area, Idaho on November 23, 2012:
Kenneth, Thank you for your very positive feedback. I greatly appreciate the message you've left here as well as the other avenues of contact. It's so very motivating to receive such kind and positive words.
Kenneth Avery from Hamilton, Alabama on November 23, 2012:
Wow, what a great hub. Voted up and all the way across. Amazing, in-depth and touched me because I suffer from anxiety, panic attacks, severe bouts of depression, but I have taken therapy and with my meds, I can cope. Of course, with God's merciful grace. I wouldn't want to give med's all of the credit. I appreciate YOUR taking time to write this hub which I felt was a great help personally, and all who suffer from this awful "monster."
Mary Roark (author) from Boise area, Idaho on November 15, 2012:
Thank you teacherjoe52. I believe positive reinforcement is all the same, no matter how you choose to direct it. Just as long as you're focusing on redirecting the mind to a positive state.
teacherjoe52 on November 14, 2012:
Good morning Mary.
I very stronly agree with your sugesstions.
When stressful times come to me, I like to stop and pray to Jesus about the situation.I ask for the strength, wisdom and patience to deal with it appropriately. After a few monents of prayer serinity returns to me. Some of the best classes I taugh came in jusy such situations.
God bless you.
Mary Roark (author) from Boise area, Idaho on November 14, 2012:
Thank you so very, very much lovedoctor926.
lovedoctor926 on November 14, 2012:
This is one of the best hubs on self improvement that I've read so far.
Mary Roark (author) from Boise area, Idaho on November 14, 2012:
Thank you so very much for your support and positive reinforcement billybuc.
Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on November 14, 2012:
All excellent suggestions, and I can verify that they work.
On another note, you are an excellent writer. It is so nice to read good grammar, good sentence structure, and a voice that is all your own. Well done my new friend; keep writing because you are good at it.