Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is one of the most studied and proven treatments for anxiety disorders. It’s short-term and helps you develop skills to change negative thoughts and behaviors.
CBT techniques include cognitive restructuring, a process of changing thought patterns. Therapists teach clients to identify the lines of thinking that cause them to feel anxious. They also learn to challenge those assumptions.
While most people will experience some anxiety, it can become problematic if it is disproportionate to the situation. There are many ways to manage this, including breathing exercises. This technique is used in cognitive behavioral therapy in NYC to help people control their anxiety and reduce stress.
Inhale slowly through your nose and count to four. Hold your breath for 6 seconds. Make sure your exhalation exceeds your two inhalations. Repeat the exercise several times. This breathing exercise can calm the nervous system and reduce heart and respiration rates.
Equal breathing is another calming breath technique. You can also try equal breathing. Inhale slowly through your nose until your lungs are half full, then exhale slowly for at least 10 minutes while vocalizing “calm” or “safe.” This will help you reduce tension and anxiety.
Other CBT techniques for dealing with anxiety include addressing cognitive distortions like emotional dysregulation that can lead to irrational thoughts, such as comparison (believing something is bad or likely to go wrong simply because it’s compared to something else) and emotional reasoning (believing something will be true just because you’re feeling anxious about it). This practice aims to teach you how to recognize these unhealthy thinking patterns and replace them with more realistic, balanced ways of viewing yourself, your life, and the world around you.
Relaxation techniques are a common part of CBT, and they’re used to reduce anxiety by promoting a sense of calm. They may be used to combat a panic attack or practiced regularly for ongoing stress management. Using relaxation techniques is an important part of your anxiety treatment because they can help you learn to control your symptoms and reduce the need for medication.
Your therapist will teach you various relaxation skills and provide some psychoeducation about anxiety. This helps you understand why your fear is irrational and how you can improve your negative thoughts. They will also discuss how your stress can affect you and your body and work with you to identify attainable mental health goals.
Various studies of different relaxation techniques have shown some promising results. Applied relaxation, meditation, and autogenic training have all produced high effect sizes within and between group analyses. Progressive muscle relaxation and a form of biofeedback called electromyography have had a more modest effect size, but they still show promise.
Often, clients will have little understanding of what causes their anxiety, especially if they’ve never been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. Their therapist will use journaling prompts to help them identify their triggers and track their progress throughout therapy sessions.
This week’s new study shows that meditation—in which you focus on quieting your mind and letting thoughts pass by without reacting—can help calm anxiety. Meditation is a widely used stress management technique, but researchers have only recently begun to explore its effectiveness in treating anxiety symptoms.
Using the mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) technique, the research team from University College London found that participants who meditated experienced a significant decrease in their anxiety levels compared to those in control groups. They also reported better moods and less self-criticism. “The findings are encouraging, but the most important thing is that if you’re feeling anxious and want to calm down, try meditation,” Hoge says.
The study’s authors suggest that meditation might help reduce anxiety by changing how your brain responds to fearful stimuli. The study showed that meditators have less activity in the part of their brain associated with arousal, which means they can learn to disengage from negative, worried thoughts more easily. It also helps them develop a sense of detachment and objectivity about their worries, allowing them to recognize that the feared outcomes they’re worried about are not likely to happen.
If you’re interested in meditation for anxiety, check out the guided meditations on sites like BetterHelp. These meditations often incorporate elements of Progressive Muscle Relaxation, which involves tensing and relaxing different muscle groups. Consider consulting a CBT therapist if your anxiety symptoms are severe or interfere with daily life. You can use an online directory to find a therapist specializing in cognitive behavioral therapy for anxiety.
One of the most powerful anxiety treatment strategies is visualization. It is a technique where you imagine yourself in a safe environment that soothes your emotions and distracts your mind. This can be something as simple as a beach with soothing waves or a mountaintop view that makes you feel happy and at peace. You may also visualize an event you fear, such as flying on a plane or speaking in public. You will repeat these images until your fear subsides.
This is a common component of CBT therapy and can be used to combat all types of fears. The goal is to change the negative patterns that cause your feelings of anxiety. For example, your therapist might help you recognize when distorted thoughts are happening and teach you to challenge them. Another step of this type of therapy is exposure to what you are afraid of to desensitize you. This can happen in real life (in vivo exposure), in your imagination or computer simulations.
It is important to note that CBT is a short-term treatment option, but it is often more effective than other types of treatments. You should work closely with your therapist and use the techniques they teach you to manage your symptoms effectively.