Besides medication, CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) has helped me with my depression and anxiety. CBT is a form of psychotherapy and it works to help change thought patterns, thinking, and behaviours. Our thoughts about a situation affect how we feel and CBT works to re-organize those thought patterns.
I took a class a few years ago on anxiety and we learned many techniques on how to tweak our thought process in order to lessen our anxieties (and depression). I’m not a health professional (yet) – so I’m not going to say these work for everyone. But these are the top three exercises that I use regularly. (It’s also important to note that these aren’t going to always work right away. These are skills. According to studies, they should be done regularly for 3-6 months to be able to change an individual’s thought process)
Now this one is hard. Seriously. The basic explanation of it is allowing oneself to worry for 20 minutes at a certain point in the day and then not worrying the rest of the day. Yeah, like I said, it’s a toughy. You can choose the time of day, but I would suggest not starting out your day with negative thoughts. When I practice it, it’s usually mid afternoon. You can worry as much as you want for those 20 minutes. But when it’s done, BOOM, it’s done. Push those worrying thoughts away. Like I said, it takes loooooots of practice for this one in order to not worry outside of worry time.
Okay, I honestly don’t even know the name of this one so I made the name up. This is the one I use the most. I get a lot of anxiety in a regular day because of the assumptions I make.
“I accidentally talked over someone so they must be really annoyed”
“I ate too much at a dinner with _____. They must think I’m a pig”
“I spoke too loud. They must think I’m obnoxious.”
It’s amazing the things we tell ourselves and totally believe them!
When I catch myself in one of these thoughts I write down the thought. So let’s say you’re at work and your boss asks you to correct some spelling in a document you typed. You’re thinking “My boss thinks I’m an idiot.” Next to it, write a number between 1 and 10 that represents how much you feel the statement is true. Now think practically for a minute. Maybe put yourself in their shoes. Now write a number between 1 and 10 that represents what is actually true. Chances are, you’re feeling around a 9 that your boss thinks you’re an idiot, but after you think about it, your boss probably doesn’t think you’re an idiot at all. It’s likely they haven’t thought about it since they asked you to make the correction.
Practicing this takes time, but your thought process will eventually change.
This is basically what the words mean, exposing yourself to situations that cause you anxiety. I have exposed myself to probably a zillion situations that cause me anxiety since I’ve moved. I have social anxiety. Moving two provinces away, I needed to make new friends. This is scary for the average human. I pushed myself into situations that I wouldn’t normally do like joining clubs and trying all sorts of new activities in order to meet people. I even responded to a “wanted friends” ad (lol! A whole other story…) on Facebook and she is now one of my closest friends here (and not a serial murderer, I promise).
Exposing yourself to situations is one of the scariest things a person with anxiety can do. But it’s also so satisfying. Once done, you can see that it wasn’t so scary after all, and most of the time totally worth it.
I recently had a mini panic attack. I agreed to volunteer at a retirement home. I drove up to the home at the agreed time. I was so nervous to go in, I couldn’t breathe. I had to leave. I’m still extremely embarrassed about this because really, I was scared of doing crafts at a retirement home? But somehow I am writing about this. Let your freak flag fly, right?
Anyway, a friend offered to come with me next time and I took her up on that. A couple days later we went and had such a great time!!!! We are going to go back once a week. Again, an anxious situation exposed and conquered.
Those three are my fav! Again, I am not a health professional. Just a user who these have worked for :)