Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is a talking type of therapy that helps people manage their problems by using techniques to modify and adapt how they think, feel, and behave. It has shown to be effective for treating people with mental health issues, such as anxiety, panic disorders, phobias, and depression.
It is a relatively ‘short-term’ treatment, which can last between 5 to 20 sessions (or however long you need), and you would go to these sessions usually once a week. Your therapist will help you break down your problem into separate parts, to find out what your thoughts, feelings and behaviours are, and how they are triggered.
How does CBT help with anxiety?
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy can be used to help with anxiety because it allows you to dig deep into what the possible triggers for your anxiety are and discover why it is happening. Techniques can then be taught to you about how to manage your thoughts and feelings so that you learn to cope with your anxiety.
I’ve had first-hand experience with Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (but that’s another story) so I’m here to pass my wisdom along and help others cope with anxiety.
So, here are 5 Cognitive Behavioural Therapy techniques used to cope with anxiety that you can do at home!
Set goals you want to achieve
At Cognitive Behavioural Therapy your therapist will ask you what your goal of the therapy is and create a plan with you on how to tackle it.
So, think about what you want to accomplish when it comes to your anxiety. Do you have panic attacks and want them to stop? Okay, thats a goal. Does your anxiety stop you from being in large crowds? A goal could be to control an anxiety attack during these situations.
It all depends on your anxiety symptoms and what you wish to overcome. Making goals and writing them down will allow you read back over your goals whenever you need to as a reminder of what you’re trying to achieve and track progress!
Understanding your triggers
In order to manage your anxiety you need to get to the root of the problem and discover what your triggers actually are, and where they have come from. Talking to a close family or friend, or writing your thoughts down (more on that later) can help you realise what causes your anxiety symptoms and why they come about. This way, you can prepare for a situation where you’re likely to experience anxiety and use techniques to prevent the symptoms for occuring.
When you begin to feel anxious, concentrating on deep breathing can allow you to calm down, especially if you suffer from panic attacks and hyperventilating.
It takes practice, but try to take a big breath in and then breathe out slowly until it feels like all the air in lungs has escaped. Keep repeating this until you’ve got your panic attack under control.
This can be used when you know you’re going to encounter a trigger of yours. For example, if you struggle with large crowds and you’ve got to go onto a packed train station, you can begin your breathing exercises just before and during the situation occurs to hopefully prevent the anxiety attack from happening.
Writing your thoughts down
I would seriously recommend getting yourself a ‘thoughts journal’ which you can write in whenever you feel yourself getting anxious. If you can’t get your thoughts journal out at that time, later in the day write down what happened, and your thoughts and the feelings you felt.
Writing down your thoughts can allow you to spill your feelings onto the page as if you were talking to someone about your anxiety. It’s almost like you’re your own therapist.
Also, think about how you felt after you’d calmed down, was the situation you were anxious about end as bad as you thought it would or was it a success? Try an establish whether your anxiety is rational or not. All this can be looked back on to discover a pattern in your behaviour and eventually show progress.
Talk to yourself
This may sound ridiculous, but you may find that you can control a panic attack, for example, by talking to yourself. Not necessarily out loud, but in your own head.
For example, you start to feel a panic attack creep in, as well as your breathing exercises, tell yourself everything is okay, that you’re going to be fine, or something along those lines, repeatedly.
What you say to yourself all depends on you, and it doesn’t particularly matter what, but keep it positive and remind yourself of your goals, you can control this!
Practice, practice, practice
Unfortunately, controlling your anxiety doesn’t happen over night, and to be honest, there’s no such thing as a ‘cure’. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy gives you techniques to manage and control your anxiety so that your anxiety doesn’t stop you from living a normal life.
Some of these techniques may work for you and some may not, it all depends on how you feel. But don’t give up, with practice you can use these techniques to get a better hold of your anxiety. It doesn’t happen overnight.
If you are really struggling, I would suggest going to see a professional. They are qualified to give you advice and will know exactly which techniques you can try for your particular symptoms, as my advice is rather broad.
Never suffer alone, there is always someone who is dealing with the same things as you, or are there to help you. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy really helped me manage my panic attacks so now I live such a happier life!
You’ve got this! 💪🏻