If you have ever experienced that feeling of compete dread, impending doom, overwhelming worry or fear when you are at work just about to give a presentation, going to a party alone, eating in public, stepping out the house with an outfit you are unsure on, walking down a street you don't know or driving on the motorway, you have more than likely been anxious. You will know the feeling of your heart racing, irrational but what feels like real thoughts running through your head of everything that could go wrong and then that sensation of hot or cold, palpitations, sweating, nausea and/or breathing difficulties; this is what is known as a panic attacks or extreme anxiety.
These feelings can be brought on by anything you experience sporadically or frequently, leading to a life that has little confidence, low self esteem, high levels of fear, social ineptness and worry which all fuel and is caused by anxiety. The debilitating worry of what others think of you or danger can use up huge amounts of energy, time and life. We have the potential to achieve anything we put our mind too but anxiety can take us over as the body and mind refrain into a comfort zone of fear rather than trying to break free of the grasps of this worry.
A certain level of worry is actually healthy as if we were completely fearless we would make many wrong decisions, hurt ourselves or get into some sort of trouble. Worry offers a calculated risk which is healthy. However, for millions of us this worry is heightened and has spurred anxiety and excessive fear in us that results in us shying away from many things in life and causing a spiral of negative behaviour. What we do not realise though is that anxiety and worry can be battled and stopped if approached in the right way. One way is using Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) which is a technique used to change your cognitive (thought) processes from negative to positive in order to change your behaviours in the same way. Here are 5 ways in which you can use CBT to conquer that worry and anxiety so you can lead a life of confidence, high self esteem and happiness.
Research as much as you can about CBT, anxiety and worry. We can go through life not realising that we can help ourselves and that we can make changes. We do not have to accept things how they are most of the time. Learning about both anxiety and worry will begin to give you a realistic basis on which to pitch your thought processes and hence behaviours. Knowing things like we can't change the past so worrying about it has no use at all, the things we worry about are statistically likely not to happen and most of our worries are about things we really don't need to seriously think about.
2: Write it all down
Keep a small note book or diary on you at all times.
- Write down every time you are anxious or worried, repercussions of this, thoughts, feelings, actions, anything that affects your day and you think is note worthy.
- At the end of the day look at the things you write down and scale them 1 - 10 (10 being the highest) of how strongly you felt worry or anxiety.
- Then categorise each point under 4 sections: 1 - Worried that it might happen 2 - Worried because it has happened in the past 3 - Worried about the small things in the day (Small things that will probably go unnoticed by most) 4 - Worried about the big things (Something that will really have an impact on your life).
- Look at the list and see how it is distributed and see if the points are relative between the score you gave them and the categories you put them under.
- Seeing them in this way will give you an insight to false and irrational beliefs and give you the tools to make changes as you can begin to work on changing the way you think and moving these points to lower scores and different, more realistic categories.
- From this you can begin to take the initiative to make decisions and take responsibility and control for your life.
3: Step out of your comfort zone of fear
The results of anxiety and the false beliefs ingrained into our minds and behaviours can leave us, ironically, remaining in a comfort zone of fear. This means that we are more at ease feeling negative and leading a life controlled by anxiety than facing our fears and making changes to get a life we should have. To step out of this zone can be daunting but we need to. We have to face our fears. Although this can be overwhelming it can be done. However, facing your fears using exposure therapy must be done carefully, it not a case of ripping the band aid off in one go when it comes to this. By taking small steps and using a combination of techniques and positive affirmations you can expand those comfort zones boundaries slowly until you can confidently break through them. Make plans to tackle your worries and fears to help you, try using a perspective from others point of view and practice.
Anchoring is a common technique used within CBT, it is a method to connect a positive association to something you currently find traumatic by using a trigger.
- Choose an object you have on you everyday such as jewellery (ring or necklace is good) If you do not have this you can use your knuckle on you left had to pinch or tap you finger against your leg
- Find somewhere quiet to go where you will not be disturbed.
- Think of a time, situation or event when you felt completely relaxed, confident and happy.
- As you picture this time feel the positive energy and whilst you do this rub the piece of jewellery, tap your finger or pinch your knuckle. Repeat this process over and over again, use different happy images to layer different positive emotions to make the anchor stronger.
- When you are in a situation that leaves you worrying and negative repeat the action and feel how differently you feel as your brain triggers more positive emotions towards something you would usually perceive as negative.
- Practice makes perfect when it some to anchoring so try exercising this everyday to set these positive associations into your subconscious.
A heightened sense of worry cause huge amounts of stress on both the body and mind. This reaction is what leads to anxiety and causes a vicious circle. But teaching yourself to relax and combat anxious feelings and behaviours can relieve levels of worry, helping you to see past your false beliefs and react realistically, making calculated decisions and ruling your own life.
- Breathing: Breathing techniques have to be done carefully but as long as you remember to breathe out longer than you breathe in you can master relaxation to calm anxiety and worry down. So inhale for a count of 4, hold and then exhale for a count of 8. You should always breathe out for double the count of the inhale. Think about where you are breathing from (your chest or your diaphragm) putting your hands on them to see which is higher. Try to make sure you make your diaphragm raises more than your chest.
- Have fun: By letting our hair down and doing something we want to we can forget the stress brought on by worrying and you can use this energy for anchoring techniques and positive visualisation.
- Sleep: Try getting those all important hours in of sleep. If your sleep pattern is disturbed by worry and anxiety don't stress yourself out with trying to get 8 hours in as the more you worry the more stress is created. Instead set yourself a realistic target even if it is 2 hours, this will immediately relieve stress and help you sleep. Get in to a routine, be active in the day, eating well, avoid stimulants and have hot drink and bath before bed will all help.
Follow these 5 tips and use the research you do to find out more about combating worry and anxiety and rid yourself of a life led by negativity.
To watch a presentation that will show you how to destroy the worry of what others think about you in 5 easy steps visit "Secret Social Weapons"
Secret Social Weapons