In the two previous articles, I talked about the history of anxiety, what anxiety is and how it happens. If you suffer from anxiety, it is important to know its origins and understand how you respond to stressful events. By catching yourself at the beginning stage of an anxiety attack, you can prevent it from getting out of control.
Treatments for anxiety come in several forms: medication, herbal remedies, aromatherapy, behavioral techniques, and support. If you are an anxiety sufferer, you undoubtedly will have tried a multitude of approaches. Some may have been helpful. Others were not so much. DIY anxiety treatment can work, but when it doesn’t, adding a therapist who specializes in treating anxiety will give you a tool kit to stop anxiety in its tracks.
Try these suggestions to help reduce anxiety symptoms:
Successfully Treat Anxiety Using Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
Treating anxiety with cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is now the leading treatment for anxiety. Research has consistently shown that not only is this type of therapy effective, but the positive effects are also evident, without medication, in as little as eight sessions.
CBT addresses how a person’s thoughts interact with their behaviors and creates anxiety. Therapists help clients recognize negative thought patterns that are influencing their feelings and behavior.
For example, let’s say you have a job interview to promote to supervisor in a few days and as you think about what they may ask and how you will answer, you begin to question your qualifications.
What if you don’t know an answer to a question they ask, you wonder. You worry you will appear incompetent. You begin to think you should have waited until you had more experience before applying, and you withdraw your application.
That is an example of how your thoughts have dictated your actions. You originally applied to the position because you felt qualified and capable. So what if your thoughts when more like this?
You begin anticipating the interview questions that are a few days away and wonder if you will have all the appropriate answers. You begin to worry but then remind yourself that you have been doing the job for five years and handled multiple crises.
Your coworkers already look to you for answers, and on the rare occasion you don’t know the answer, you simply tell them you’ll look into it for them, or you point them in the right direction to do it themselves. Your work ethics are impeccable. You realize even if you don’t have all the answers, you find them and get the job done. You’ll do great.
CBT helps you recognize the negative effects of the first experience and reframe the situation into the second experience.
Many people suffering from anxiety don’t fully understand the problem. They are ashamed or embarrassed and prefer not to talk about it. A therapist can help reframe your anxiety through education and explaining that anxiety is a feeling of discomfort that often leads people to avoid the situation altogether.
Anxiety is defined by avoidance. That feeling of discomfort I just mentioned will often cause you to avoid any situation that makes you feel that way. Every time you avoid a problem, the anxiety it produces will become worse the next time.
It is important for therapy to include discussion about symptoms and subsequent reactions to anxiety so you can reframe your thoughts and do things differently before the situation gets out of hand.
With practice, you will begin to identify situations that make you anxious by your body’s reaction. You will be able to stop and think about your thoughts right that moment and see the relationship between those thoughts and your behavior.
Your therapist will guide you, and once you are proficient at identifying the negative thoughts, you can take intervening steps to reduce the accompanying anxiety.
Techniques to Manage Anxiety
Though CBT therapy can quickly help you manage your anxiety, it doesn’t work overnight. So even though you are headed in the right direction, you may want to include other techniques in your tool kit for emergencies or just for relaxing the stress away from a rough day.
The following techniques are proven to reduce stress and can be done on your own. Everyone is different, so anything healthy, promotes relaxation, and works for you is a keeper.
- Diet – Minerals that are especially good for stress management include phosphorus, magnesium, and calcium.
- Reduce caffeine – Limit to one a day or try decaf coffee.
- Eat foods rich in Vitamin B – or you can take a supplement.
- Exercise – Exercise releases endorphins that give you a mood boost.
- Massage – helps promote relaxation
- Face your fears – try taking a proactive approach to anxiety.
- Stop worrying about what other people think of you – You don’t need anyone else’s approval to lead a fulfilling life.
- Smile – Even if you don’t feel like it, smile. It will instantly change your state of mind from negative to positive.
There are literally hundreds of stress-reducing things you can try to manage your anxiety. It will be trial and error before you hit on the right techniques for you.
It is always a good idea to have your top DIY stress reducers available in case of an emergency, but as you work with your therapist, you will find your need for them lessens. The paralyzing anxiety that used to creep up on you and suddenly take over will have no power.
Remember too that you can’t (and wouldn’t want to) eliminate or ignore all anxiety. Some anxiety is helpful as it acts as your warning system and alerts you to possible danger.
Are you ready to live without constant worry? We can help. Call today for a free consultation.