Step 1: Learn to identify what you’re thinking, your self-talk. Being aware of your thoughts and self-talk helps you track the kinds of thoughts you typically have.

Step 2: Identify the thoughts that make you feel bad, and consider if the thoughts are problematic. If they are, they will need to be challenged. For example, because it is normal and realistic to feel sad while thinking about a close relative’s recent death, this thought needn’t be challenged. However, feeling depressed and thinking you are unlikable or that there is something wrong with you after a friend cancels a lunch date, is a problematic and unrealistic thought, and so, needs to be addressed and challenged.

Step 3: Notice when your emotions change, even small changes, then ask yourself “What am I telling myself right now?” or “What is making me feel upset?”

Step 4: Once familiar to identifying thoughts that lead to negative emotions, begin determining their accuracy and how realistic they are. Challenge your negative thoughts by asking yourself “What is the evidence that this thought is true?” and “Am I confusing a possibility with a probability? It may be possible, but is it likely?”

Step 5: Finally, after challenging a negative thought and evaluating it more objectively, try to come up with an alternative thought that is more balanced and realistic. This can help lower your distress. Additionally, come up with some quick and easy-to-remember coping statements, like “This has happened before and I know how to handle it”, and positive self-statements like “It takes courage to face the things that scare me”.

Write down your realistic thoughts and coping statements and carry them with you to help remind you of these statements when you are feeling too distressed to think clearly.

The first step to successfully managing anxiety is to learn to understand and recognize it. Self-awareness is essential! The most effective non-medicinal treatment for anxiety is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy.

Author's Bio: 

George Bielay has been a practicing therapist since 1991. During this time, he has worked in various counselling settings such as community mental health agencies, marriage and family therapy clinics, residential treatment centres, employee assistance programs and post-secondary schools and universities. If you are looking for Victoria BC Counselling, please visit us online today!