CBT

Wars of the Mind; How to Effectively Overcome Anxiety Part Four

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

 

Last week we explored the lifestyle changes which serve to reduce anxiety. This week we delve into how Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) can help us to halt thinking traps altogether with just a little practice.

 

Actively Axing Anxiety Through CBT

 

I cannot begin to tell you just how profound an impact CBT has had upon my life and this article would not be complete without my strongly encouraging you to read the free ‘Panic Stations’ CCI InfoPax as featured on my best resources page.

 

Whilst lifestyle choices can certainly lessen anxiety symptoms, if you want to see a vast improvement and learn how to effectively manage and considerably reduce your anxiety I would highly recommend working through this exceptional CBT workbook.

 

Within this workbook I would recommend taking the following modules:

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What your anxiety reveals about you (and why you need to know)

In recent years I have fought against anxiety as if it were the enemy, only to realize that it was trying to tell me something very important. Maybe I wasn’t ready to hear it, maybe it had to get worse in order for me to pay attention. Recently I’ve learnt that deep down it was trying to tell me that there are parts of my past that haven’t yet healed. Although I’ve come a long way, my anxiety reminds me that I still have a long way to go. That even though I like myself and have forgiven my bullies, the fear of being bullied still remains when I am in the company of new or unfamiliar people.

 

If you think about the times when you were most anxious, what did it surround? Whilst the literal cause of anxiety might relate to something quite specific, the root cause is often something much more generalized. For example, do you get anxious about keeping everyone happy? Is there something unresolved in one of your close relationships and / or do you have a need for all of your relationships to be conflict free? When you were a child did you witness a lot of conflict?

 

For everyone the cause of our anxiety will be different but I would encourage you to delve deeper into the root cause of your anxiety as when you do you may discover your anxiety is trying to show you that you have a deeper issue that needs your attention.

 

Try these three key questions to unravel the message your anxiety might be trying to convey:

 

  • What does my anxiety relate to specifically?
  • What does my anxiety relate to generally?
  • Did I experience what my anxiety relates to generally in the past?

 

Then ask yourself this key question:

 

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Next month’s hot topic – Anxiety

I’m really excited to reveal that next month’s hot topic is anxiety. Having suffered from anxiety myself I know just how debilitating can be. It’s important to remember that anxiety is different from mere worrying (which admittedly is awful too).

 

Whereas worry is considered by psychologists to be normal and tends to relate to something specific, for example, your performance on a test, anxiety is more generalized and all pervasive and is considered by psychologists to be more severe by nature.

 

If you tend to worry a lot please sign up to my mailing list to get your free downloadable eBook ‘Don’t worry, be happy’.

 

For those of you that are unsure as to whether you have experienced or are experiencing anxiety there will be a ‘How anxious are you?’ questionnaire as part of my linear posts in the first week of the series!

 

In next month’s anxiety series we will cover:

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‘Tis the season to be stressed – How to leave stress behind you for good; Part Three

Last week we looked at decreasing our demands. This week we focus on the fun bit – how we can increase our resources. This is just as essential when tackling stress, as it helps us to gain a more objective and balanced perspective. When our resources are high we are more likely to see the situation for what it is and this can reduce our tendency to enter into a heightened fight, flight or freeze response. There are many positive ways we can actively increase our resources. For instance, if I am stressed at work an early nights sleep will greatly increase my resistance to stress the following day. Unsurprisingly, lack of sleep can significantly increase our stress levels and so it is vital that we make sleep a priority when we are stressed. An early night or a lay in over the weekend can make a vast difference and improve our resources tenfold.

 

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‘Tis the season to be stressed – How to leave stress behind you for good; Part Two

The first and most important step is admitting to ourselves when we are stressed, hopefully last week’s exercises will have helped you to see more easily whether you are stressed. Admitting we are stressed can often be difficult in our society which promotes a busy lifestyle. How many programmes on TV have you seen featuring ‘essential’ festive events and activities we simply cannot, and should not, miss? When being busy is the norm, admitting we are stressed can seem like announcing we cannot cope with the demands of daily life, but this is not entirely the case. Usually those of us that suffer from stress have chosen to take on what others would not and, consequently, have been burdened with demands that are unmanageable given the resources available to us.

 

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‘Tis the season to be stressed – How to leave stress behind you for good; Part One

It’s December and the festive season is upon us once again. Ahead of us lay hours of rushing through shops trying to mark off items from our seemingly endless shopping lists, barging through the crowds on our way. And then there are the party invites flooding into our inbox, several of these falling on the same night and all – without fail – impossible to decline less our friendships be strained forevermore. Add to this the torrent of cookery shows impressing upon us the urgent need to be a Michelin Star chef come Christmas day and no wonder the season fills us with an overwhelming sense of stress.

 

Recalling last Christmas it was clear I was stressed, I had just finished planning my parents honeymoon and was completely burnt out. At the time I was aware I wasn’t myself but, in the depths of my stress, I just saw a seemingly endless to do list which absolutely had to be done – whether I was up to it or not. It’s often so easy to recognise when we have been stressed in the past, but what do we do when we are in the midst of it? How can we learn to recognise what to look out for and react accordingly to reduce it?

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Stop the bus and leave drama at the next stop! Part Three

When we deal with the drama triangle assertively we often reap countless benefits. We are able to not only refuse disrespectful treatment from others but are also able to remain respectful towards others. In being assertive we can successfully avoid both the victim and prosecutor roles, taking ourselves completely out of the triangle. Once out of the drama triangle we can then engage in more assertive communication, promoting adult exchanges which are both respectful and honest.

 

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Stop the bus and leave drama at the next stop! Part Two

To avoid the vicious drama triangle we can use assertiveness, leaving the rescuer, victim and prosecutor roles behind us. If assertiveness is unfamiliar territory for you then fear not, the basic principles of assertive behaviour are very straight forward. When being assertive there are four key points to address:

 

  1. Acknowledge what has been said. E.g. use statements like ‘I understand’ and ‘I understand what you have said’. 
  2. State the facts about the situation using non-biased language. E.g. ‘It was a gift from everyone’. 
  3. State the impact the situation has had on you, avoiding divisive words like ‘really’, ‘very’ or ‘you’. E.g. I found your statement hurtful and offensive’. 
  4. State what future action you would like to be taken. E.g. ‘I would appreciate it if you could refrain from saying statements like that to me in future’. 

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New ‘Best Resources’ Page Featuring The Webs Most Exceptional Psychology Resources

 

H All,

 

Here at Accessible Psychology I like to make things, well, accessible, so I have taken it upon myself to source the most exceptional psychology resources from all over the web and share them with you in one place, right here on my ‘Best Resources’ page. These resources are highly recommended by all top therapists. How do I know you say? Well, a therapist from none other than The Priory recommended them as the very best!

 

I like to think I have catered for everything so if you would like to become more assertive try the ‘Assert Yourself’ CBT InfoPax by CCI. Feel like you would like to have higher self-esteem? Try ‘Improving Self-Esteem’, also by CCI. Want more happiness? There’s a guidebook from Action for Happiness called ‘Ten Keys To Happier Living’ you can download right here at Accessible Psychology!

 

Should you have a therapist don’t worry there is something on my page for you too. I’ve featured a comprehensive selection of worksheets by Psychology Tools covering all sorts of thought records and diaries – there are even worksheets on anger, forgiveness and sleep. You can save, print and fill out all of the worksheets provided and then share them with your therapist. I’ve also included a fantastic online service by MindQuire where you can record and graph your depression, stress and anxiety levels and share the findings with your therapist.

 

For those of you wishing to integrate more mindfulness into your life, try Headspace – an online site and app with a massive encyclopaedia of meditation courses, all designed to help make meditation accessible, relevant and beneficial to the masses.

 

Please let me know which resources you like best and how they have helped you, I’d absolutely love to hear from you.

 

Enjoy everyone!

 

x X x Jenny Leigh x X x

Stop the bus and leave drama at the next stop! Part One

Recently I found myself in the middle of drama with one of my good friends. The experience was all consuming, one minute I was crying and the next I was angry. During this gut-wrenching conflict I couldn’t eat, I frequently cried myself to sleep and everything in my life seemed to stop. I even stopped training for my 5k run for charity (thankfully I managed to complete the race, albeit with a lot of huffing and puffing). This went on for around a month. What surprised me most was how the situation gained momentum and spiralled out of control so quickly. With no exaggeration, the impact of this conflict was devastating. As I had learned, when we are in conflict with those around us the toll on our lives can be profound. Loss of appetite, acute stress, sleep disturbance and depression can all result from intense conflict. If I was ever to escape this drama and all the stress it had caused me, I knew I had to get off the bus at the next stop.

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