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Managing Anxiety

November 24, 2015

Emily Wall, LMSW
Primary Counselor, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive behavioral therapy can be very effective in reducing anxiety to a manageable level. Check out these tips.

Evaluate Distorted Thinking:  Our thinking influences our anxiety more than we realize. When experiencing anxiety, look for these skewed thinking patterns:  seeing situations in all or nothing terms (dichotomous thinking), only viewing what could potentially go wrong (catastrophizing), and underestimating your own capability and safety. Noticing these thinking patterns is the first step to changing them.

Controlled Breathing: Have you been told to “take a deep breath” to calm down? Actually, research shows that deep breathing can cause carbon dioxide to build up in your body which can increase feelings of panic. Instead, practice elongated exhalation. Breathe normally but count to 5 slowly while exhaling.

Accepting Uncertainty: Uncertainty is a huge trigger for anxiety. Accepting events out of our control can help reduce anxiety. To practice, draw two circles on a paper. In the first circle, make a pie chart showing how much responsibility you feel in a specific situation, and in the second circle make a pie chart showing how much responsibility you actually have over the same situation. Notice how we criticize ourselves for not being able to change or fix factors that actually are outside of our control.

Self-Care: Engaging in a healthy exercise routine during the week and maintaining a healthy diet can do wonders for reducing anxiety. Taking time to treat yourself also sends a positive message to your body and mind that you are just as worthy of time and attention as all of the other tasks and responsibilities in life. 

This article appeared in the 2015 issue of our Journeys Magazine.