It's been almost a year since I started my treatment for anxiety.
I've learned so much about myself and how I can manage it.
Here are a few exercises I've tried. Hope you find them useful.
Do an inventory: Get a piece of paper and draw a line in the middle of the page. In the left column, write "I have too much" and on the right "I have too little". Fill out each column.
When I did this exercise a year ago, I had too much stress and too little fun. By creating this list, you get a better idea of what you have too much of and too little of. What do you need?
Keep an anxiety journal: Write down your thoughts in a journal. Grade your anxiety from 1-10. Exercise: Identify your thoughts: Are they Type 1 thoughts (i.e. an actual problem you can solve) or Type 2 thoughts (i.e. a hypothetical "what if?" scenario that is outside of your control)?
Learn to distinguish between what you can influence and what you cannot. Anyone can benefit from this practice. It's easier to examine your thoughts on a piece of paper, because you distance yourself from them. They're not "you".
Run experiments: CBT is all about exposure. You challenge assumptions, put yourself in new situations, and learn from the experience. Start small and work your way up.
For example, I have this fear of spelling mistakes. I'd spell check an email or a text four, five, sometimes even six times or more. Correct spelling is wonderful, but a typo is not the end of the wordl. (See what I did there?)
*taking a deep breath*
Worrying about spelling mistakes takes a lot of energy, because it fuels a constant "reassurance behaviour". By running small experiments, you can re-learn this behaviour and save energy in the long term. A spelling mistake here and there is not as awful as my brain makes it out to be.
Recharge your batteries: Recovering is crucial to maintain your health and welbeing. It's not a nice to have, it's a must have. As we've seen, excessive worrying taps that energy resource.
Discover your recovery rituals and exercise them, i.e. go for walks in between work and home. Talk to a close friend over the phone. Rest, read a book, meditate. Find out what works best for you.
In short, practice the basics: Eat well, get proper sleep, spend more time with friends and family, be in nature, play with pets, and journal about your experiences.
Learn how you can better manage your stress and anxiety: Stress and anxiety are inevitable parts of modern life. Uncertainty is here to stay, but fortunately there are techniques to help us better cope with these changing circumstances.
A few questions to ask yourself:
- What do I need to remind myself of and think about?
- How does my body react to stress and anxiety?
- What feelings do I get when I'm stressed or anxious?
- What are my stress or anxious thoughts?
- What are my stress or anxious behaviours?
- What are my recovery behaviours? How do I recharge?
- What are my early warning signs?
- What are my risk situations for impaired mood?
- What can I do to handle risk situations?
- What can I do if I start feeling worse over a longer period?
Write down your answers to these questions and refer to them often. Update as you learn more about yourself, your thoughts, and behaviours.
Finally, how are you coping? What works for you? Please hit reply and share your insights. We're in this together.
Have a great week!