Monday, February 22, 2016

Coping With Anxiety

This selection from my phone notes was actually written for a loved one (and included in a letter) who has a family member who is coping with anxiety. In spite of the private nature of the original letter, this section might be useful for others, so I thought I'd include it in this odd little series of non-fiction posts. ;-)

Cognitive & behavioral strategies to decrease, & cope with, anxiety:

- Keep yourself in top energetic health through self-care including maintaining balanced sleep, nutrition, exercise, & time spent in work/play and social/solitary endeavors. 

- In a non-judgmental way, cultivate a curiosity driven approach to observing triggers (internal & external) for anxiety, and the thoughts, feelings, & actions that follow.

- Recognize that a few triggers can reasonably be avoided altogether but many cannot. 

- Begin to gently and patiently train yourself to identify & change your own thoughts (negative self-talk & cognitive distortions) and behaviors (shallow breathing, holding breath, muscle tension, ignoring pain/hunger/thirst/exhaustion signals, etc.) which are triggers themselves and/or automatic responses to triggers.

- Begin daily practice of a handful of calming/relaxation strategies (breathing techniques, timeouts, progressive muscle relaxation, visualization, etc. ) in order to become highly skilled in utilizing these techniques and able to implement them at a moment's notice

- Deliberately utilize techniques from previous step when experiencing triggers and/or early warning signs of rising anxiety.