In its most basic form, anxiety is an intimate relationship with a force that seeks to own you, put negative thoughts and doubts in your head. The goal of anxiety is to get you, the consumer to listen to the worry talk. The more you listen to the worries, fears and concerns, the more control anxiety has over you. Anxiety is dictating the terms and conditions of your life, as opposed to you dictating to it.
I ______________________________ pledge to gain control over my thoughts and actions and to develop strategies in order to stay ahead of my anxious thoughts. By ensuring that my thoughts and feelings are positive, I have given myself greater self-control and increased the chances for more encouraging and constructive outcomes.
- Identify the presence of anxiety: general, social, etc.
- Think about triggers both related and non-related.
- Start conversation with family members to see if anxiety runs in the family.
- Begin the process of gathering family history, treatment and coping mechanisms.
- Set up the following headings in a notebook: Situation, Thoughts, Feelings, and Behaviours.
- Identify anxiety triggers by name and list.
- Scale severity of anxiety from 1 – 10.
- Document times when exceptions to high levels of anxiety and try to determine what was different.
- Seek out professional help. For example, consult with doctor, social worker, and psychologist.
- Request a psychiatric referral through your family doctor where an appointment will be scheduled and an assessment conducted.
- Read recommended books and consult with resources and references: “The Worry Wars” by Paris Goodyear-Brown (An Anxiety Workbook for Kids and Their Helpful Adults); “Mind over Mood” by Dr. Christine Padesky (CBT).
- Self-talk: “Won’t go crazy, won’t die, it (the panic) will last 20 minutes (THE PLAN).
- 5:1 (i.e. for every negative, find 5 positives).
- Mental Imagery (a safe, neutral place where you are feeling most like yourself. For example, scoring the winning goal in hockey or enjoying a waterfall).
- CBT ~ Thought Records…Where is the evidence? To be done weekly (in and outside of therapy).
- Fidget toys: Fidget Roller, Twidelle Loopeez, Tangle, Slinky, Play Dough, Fidget Spinner, Slime Original (found at Mastermind Toys, Toy Town or Toys R Us).
- “I Notice” that I am about to…Fill in the blank with the trigger that is about to set you off. This mental health exercise serves as a time-out. Its purpose is to give you a pause to think about next steps. It represents a mini assessment. Instead of continuing to go through doorway #1, the hope is that you will take a different doorway. Thus, leading to better endings. The idea is to practice this technique when you are calm so that you will remember to use it in moments of panic or anxiety-related triggers.
- Weekly physical activity is strongly encouraged. Recommendation 2-3 times per week to start.
- Devise a system where you can consistency use and practice assigned and agreed upon coping mechanisms.
It is important to remember that even if you do not have a diagnosis of anxiety, in today’s pressure-cooker, anxiety reigns. Individuals are under enormous stress given social media, cell phone usage, entitlement, demands of school and social, confusion and the general fast-pace way. Knowing your own strengths and limitations will help point you in the right direction for help. What we know is that the earlier the detection and intervention the better the long-term results. Pay attention to the signs in your body and life. This will alert you towards taking the next steps.
I have acquired the capacity to identify and work through my anxiety triggers. I am prepared and ready to face whatever comes my way, as I am equipped to fight back the fears through an assortment of tools, designed to keep me engaged with positive thoughts and emotions and positive actions.