Standing up to anxiety and facing fear

Standing up to anxiety and facing fear

Anxiety (Unhealthy)
– Theme: Threat or danger
– Thoughts:
– rigid or extreme attitudes
– Overestimates degree of threat
– Underestimates ability to cope with threat
– Increases threat related thoughts
– Attention focus:
– Monitors threat or danger excessively
– Behavioural tendencies:
– withdraws physically and mentally from threats
– May use superstitious behaviour to ward off threats
– May numb anxiety with drugs or alcohol
– Seeks reassurance

Instead – Concern (Healthy)
– Theme: Threat or danger
– Thoughts:
– Flexible
– Views threat realistically
– Realistically assesses ability to cope with threat
– Does not increase threat related thoughts
– Attention focus:
– Does not see threat where no threat exists
– Behavioural tendencies:
– Faces up to threat
– Deals with threat constructively
– Does not seek un-needed reassurance

If you have any kind of anxiety problem, you probably spend a lot of time worrying about bad things that may happen to you or your loved ones
– the more you focus on the bad, the more you believe they will come true/actually happen

Avoid extreme thinking
– Telling yourself that things are “awful”, “horrible”, “terrible” or the “end of the world” only turns up the anxiety heat
– try a reminder to not over-estimate events/under-estimate yourself
– remind yourself to rate things more accurately – bad, unfortunate, unpleasant, not the end of the world

– Anxiety is not mild – it is often profoundly uncomfortable (physically)
– anxious people often misinterpret these intense physical symptoms as dangerous
– anxious people often think they re going crazy because they feel “unreal”

– there are common symptoms of anxiety, but if concerned seek medical advice

Thoughts such as my anxiety is unbearable or I can’t stand it only turn up the emotional heat – Remind yourself that anxiety is hard to bear, but not unbearable

Trying to control anxiety may make you feel more anxious.
– Instead notice your anxiety, and engage what it was you were going to do anyway
– This is accepting and tolerating your anxiety – And it builds coping skills

Remember the acronym: FEAR
– Face everything and recover
– This is exposure therapy and is one of the cornerstones of CBT (As it leads to what is known as de-sensitisation – Think of going to the beach and how the water is cold upon first entering it and that you then acclimatise to it – I.e. you change, not the temperature of the water – This process is called habituation – I.e. where you confront your fears albeit in a gradual & manageable way so that you are not overwhelmed)
– If exposure is too overwhelming you may end up resorting to escape, avoidance or safety behaviours
– a stepped Approach is best

Social anxiety (Excessive fear of negative evaluation by other people)
– Draw up a list of your feared and avoided social situations and the safety behaviours you tend to carry out
– Remind yourself: You can accept yourself even if other people do not like you
– Be realistic: You don’t have to be the life of the party and make good conversation and entertain everyone
– Reduce performance expectations
– Test out your predictions about people thinking negatively about

General anxiety
– Resist the temptation to try to solve every problem in advance of it happening
– Try to live with doubt
– Try to realise that the most important thing is not what you specifically worry about, but rather how you manage your worrying thoughts
– accept anxiety & let thoughts go without fusing/believing them

Source: Branch & Wilson, 2010


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