Conquer Your Anxiety with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

If you’re dealing with anxiety, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) may be the answer you are looking for. CBT is an evidence-based treatment that has been shown to help people with anxiety. It can help alleviate symptoms and improve quality of life by changing patterns of thinking and behaving that lead to the development of anxiety disorders.

Anxiety is a cognitive and emotional state characterized by feelings of fear, worry, and agitation. It can be experienced as an overreaction to stressful situations or events that are not dangerous or threatening. For those who suffer from anxiety disorders such as Social Anxiety Disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), or Panic Disorder, the symptoms can be overwhelming—shaking hands, sweaty palms, rapid heartbeat, etc.

The good news is that cognitive behavioral therapy for anxiety has been shown to significantly reduce symptoms in most cases. In this blog post, I will discuss cognitive behavioral therapy for anxiety, which you may have heard about but may not have really understood what it was. First, let’s start with some basics on CBT so you can understand how it can help.

CBT is a cognitive and behavioral approach to understanding emotions and problematic thinking patterns that lead to anxiety disorders or other mental health disorders.

CBT for anxiety works by identifying unhelpful thoughts (or cognitive distortions) which can create feelings of stress and anxiety.

Once you’re able to identify unhelpful thoughts, you can start to work on reframing them. This cognitive reframing allows you to replace unhelpful thoughts with more functional ways of thinking. This will help decrease your anxiety symptoms and get rid of the cognitive distortions which were creating them in the first place.

The main principle in CBT is that our thoughts, feeling, and behaviors are interconnected and can affect each other. For example, if anxious thoughts are causing anxiety symptoms, the cognitive reframing process will help you to learn how to replace those thoughts with more functional ones in order to decrease your anxiety and get rid of unhelpful patterns of thinking once and for all.

A major goal of CBT is that clients understand their cognitive processes well enough to be able to identify cognitive distortions when they are happening.

This helps with being able to respond more skillfully to decrease anxiety and help you function better on a daily basis.

The cognitive reframing technique is very helpful for dealing with cognitive distortions because it provides you with concrete examples of how different thoughts, feelings, and behaviors work together in your life so that you can make sense of them.

Cognitive reframing helps you understand that your cognitive distortion about something doesn’t make it true. It might also point out to you how much the thought pattern is affecting your life.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) can also be used to help people with anxiety disorders deal with emotions more effectively. Once you recognize how your thoughts are affecting your emotional state, you will have better control over your ability to regulate your emotions. It’s normal to feel anxiety or other emotions in response to events that are going on around you. However, cognitive reframing helps you understand that just because you think something, it doesn’t make it true.

In many cases, people who suffer from high levels of anxiety see a lot of catastrophizing fear patterns because they have been bombarded by anxious thoughts for so long due to their cognitive distortions and automatic thinking processes associated with anxiety disorders. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) can give people with anxiety disorder tools to help them better cope with these distorted ways of thinking so they can find relief from symptoms like panic attacks, social anxiety, or generalized anxiety.

Behavioral change happens as a result of cognitive change.

When cognitive distortions are recognized and reframed, a person’s emotional state will begin to regulate naturally because their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are in harmony with each other. In addition, cognitive behavioral therapy techniques help you get in touch with your emotions so that they can be managed more effectively by checking them against reality. You can search for evidence for or against your anxiety-provoking thoughts.

The CBT approach helps you to recognize your emotions instead of avoiding them, and then guides you on the path to self-discovery by learning how mood and behavior are influenced by thinking patterns. Cognitive behavioral therapy for anxiety can help you better understand how your thoughts (or what you tell yourself) contribute to how you feel and give you the ability to change your thoughts to change your mood (and your life).

If you are experiencing anxiety and would like to explore how CBT could help you, please feel free to reach out to me for a free consultation.

10 Tips for Managing Anxiety with Mindfulness

Anxiety is a tough mental health issue to manage.

It can be crippling and make it difficult for you to function in day-to-day life. Anxiety has been linked with an increased risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, depression, and several other serious medical conditions.

Mindfulness is a practice that helps people learn how to control their thoughts and emotions by focusing on the present moment rather than worrying about the past or future. In this blog post I will discuss 10 tips for managing anxiety with mindfulness so you can get back to living your best life!

1. Exercise

Regular exercise is a great way to reduce stress and anxiety. Try going on a run or taking up yoga, which can help you become more mindful in your activities throughout the day. Just remember that everyone’s experience of exercise will be different so don’t overexert yourself, but rather aim for 20 minutes of moderate exercise per day.

2. Drink Water

When we feel stressed our brains actually shrink, and this can lead to a loss in cognitive ability and making us more reactive. The next time you are feeling anxious or nervous, be mindful  that you are drinking at least eight glasses of water throughout the day.

3. Go for a Walk

Walking can help you to get out of your head and into the present moment. It is also a great way for you to release endorphins, which can help you feel better about yourself in that moment.

4. Try some Deep Breathing

Breathing exercises can help reduce anxiety by calming your nervous system. Anxiety can make it hard for us to take deep breaths but if you practice this on a regular basis, like every morning after waking up or before going to bed at night, then you will have an easier time doing so when anxiety pops up unexpectedly.

5. Don’t attach to your thoughts

It is common for people who are anxious to have anxious thoughts about the future. Anxiety is future-oriented. Anxiety tells you to worry about what might happen in the future so it can prepare for it, but once you’ve made a plan, worrying does nothing except stress you out and make anxiety worse. When anxious thoughts appear, just notice them and return your awareness to the present moment. It may help to focus on your breath or the activity you’re currently engaged in.

6. Use self-soothing techniques

Anxiety often brings up uncomfortable physical sensations like a racing heart or sweating palms. Self soothing techniques are great for calming you down without relying on others. Some examples of self-soothing techniques are taking a hot bath, listening to calming music, or reading. These activities can help to bring you back into the present moment.

7. Practice Meditation

Mindfulness meditation can help rewire your anxious brain. Anxiety can be affected by brain structure and function. Mindfulness has been shown to change the way our brains process information, which in turn decreases anxiety symptoms.

8. Keep a gratitude journal

The practice of gratitude helps you to focus on what is going well in your life, instead of obsessing over all the things that have gone wrong. It can help to rewire your brain to look for positive things in your life.

9. Practice Yoga

Practicing yoga has been shown to reduce anxiety, depression, and stress. It has also been shown to reduce cortisol levels.

10. Get enough sleep

Anxiety can be worsened by lack of sleep or poor quality sleep. Be mindful that you are getting the recommended seven hours per night and do everything possible to improve your sleeping environment (e.g., avoid using electronics before bed, turn off lights, etc.).

Please feel free to reach out to me if you need help managing your anxiety so you can get out of your head and back into your life!

Do I have ‘Normal’ Anxiety or an Anxiety Disorder?

Anxiety is a general, unpleasant feeling of apprehension. You feel restless and you may have physical reactions such as a headache, sweating, heart palpitations, chest tightness, and upset stomach. When is anxiety normal and when is it an anxiety disorder?

There are a number of human experiences that cause normal anxiety. Life offers us many anxiety-provoking experiences. As we journey through life, there are many important life events, both good and bad, that cause varying amounts of anxiety.

These events can include things such as, taking a school exam, getting married, becoming a parent, getting divorced, changing jobs, taking a vacation, coping with illness and many others. These can all be sources of normal anxiety.

The discomfort anxiety brings in all of these situations is considered normal and even beneficial. Anxiety about an upcoming test may cause you to work harder in preparing for the exam. The anxiety you feel when walking through a dark and deserted parking lot to your car will cause you to be alert and cautious of your surroundings.

While it’s pretty clear to see that anxiety is normal and even beneficial, for many people it becomes a problem. The main difference between normal anxiety and maladaptive anxiety is between the source and the intensity of the experience.

Normal anxiety is intermittent and is expected based on certain events or situations. An anxiety disorder, on the other hand, tends to be chronic, irrational and interferes with many life functions. Avoidance behavior, incessant worry, and concentration and memory problems may all stem from an anxiety disorder. These symptoms may be so intense that they cause family, work, and social difficulties.

The components of maladaptive anxiety include the physical responses to the anxiety (such as heart palpitations and stomach upset), distorted thoughts that become a source of excessive worry and behavioral changes affecting the usual way one lives life and interacts with others.

The definition of generalized anxiety disorder is “The presence of excessive anxiety and worry about a variety of topics, events, or activities. Worry occurs more often than not for at least six months and is clearly excessive,” according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition published by the American Psychiatric Association.