Anxiety 5-Step Management Strategy
The below is a 5 step anxiety management program aimed to help you understand and manage anxiety effectively through equipping you with practical solutions and tools. The information found within has been developed through decades of scientific research and has been shown to help limit and contain the effects of anxiety.
The 5 Steps
Starting the Journey: Understanding Anxiety
It is vital to start the process by understanding how anxiety works on the brain. This can be achieved by becoming familiar with facts about anxiety in order to help you be more in control of the situation.
Anxiety has the power to condition our thoughts, and therefore it is essential that the person suffering from an anxiety disorder understands the true nature of anxiety and looks at things from the right perspective. The use of knowledge and understanding can help to restore things back to normality, meaning it will help put you on a path to leaving anxiety and panic disorders behind you or at least being more in control of them.
The words anxiety and panic might have a different meaning to anyone who has never felt the onset of depressive and anxious feelings. As for those who have, they can creep in undetected causing strange and inexplicable moods that make life very hard to deal with, as we find ourselves fighting from depression and panic. It is therefore vital that if we find ourselves falling victim to these changes in our mood, we are quick to identify them, to isolate them from our actual reality, and take away their power to condition our rational thinking and moods.
The reality is the more power we give to these negative thoughts, the more they will limit our abilities to cope and fight. Therefore, the less power we give them, the less they will be able to control our thoughts and overpower us. The key lies in understanding what is happening in our brain and to isolate these emotions from reality. Having grasped a basic understanding of anxiety, we then learn how to start rewiring our brain, thus changing our brains’ neural pathways and allowing us to regenerate healthier more positive patterns in the ways we think. Above you will find a video from a Maltese psychotherapist who will help you understand these concepts more clearly, and help you along your journey.
Further to this is a list of books and apps that can help you further understand and deal with anxiety in more constructive and resilient ways.
Calming Strategies: Meditation & Mindfulness
It is impossible to not go into the multitude of benefits offered by mindfulness and meditation in helping to tackle and deal with anxiety and panic disorders. This section is dedicated towards giving an insight into the research, understanding the power of what mindfulness can achieve not in just tackling mental disorders but also in everyday life. Here we will focus on learning relaxation techniques and mindfulness strategies to help you tolerate and “ride out” the emotional and physical sensations of anxiety.
Below you will find the link to our ‘Tools’ INCLUDE LINK page where you can access a whole range of apps and books to help give you a further understanding into the practices, plans and general know-how of how to bring mindfulness into everyday life.
Sometimes your thoughts will define the way you feel, and sometimes the way you feel will define your thoughts. Mindfulness is the willingness to rest in the natural state of awareness, resisting the temptation to judge whatever thoughts come your way, and therefore neither opposing nor getting carried away with a feeling. Meditation is simply the mind space that is going to give you the best conditions to being aware of these emotions. We are simply addressing the way we look at emotions, looking how to address them in a more skilful way. Overcoming adversity emotionally gives us the strength to overcome similar obstacles in life, and even if we still feel them we simply become more confident of the way we address them and deal with them.
As you will find from the apps and books, the practice of meditation is not about controlling the mind or stopping thoughts. It is a process of stepping back and simply letting the mind accept, not allowing it to get to an endless battle of unproductive and often stressful thinking. You are just allowing the mind to unwind. This is mindfulness. With this technique we learn to become more grounded in the present moment.
The main problem is resistance. When we feel unpleasant thoughts entering our heads we try our best to resist them. If we fight, think or react we are resisting, and for as long as we resist, we cannot accept. And for as long as we don’t have acceptance we won’t have a peaceful mind. A quiet mind can only be achieved with acceptance. Acceptance of the good, bad whatever it may be. This is what it means to live in mindfulness; this is where we must learn to be.
Neuroscientists investigating the benefits of meditation have proven that through repetition, the brain finds new neural pathways and synaptic relationships that enable the brain to build new patterns of behaviour and mental activity that enable it to hold on to the new positive patterns, and let go of the old more destructive patterns. This has been scientifically proven. So even if at times your meditation seems to be offering little solutions, the secret is to keep practising. Repetition is the key to help rewiring the anxious brain.
Helpful Thinking: Talking Back to Anxiety
Learning to be a balanced thinker is a core strategy for coping with anxiety. In this step, you will learn how to recognise, evaluate and change anxious thinking.
When you find yourself feeling more and more anxious, separate yourself from your thinking. You are not your thoughts,and you do not need to react to them. Try and think rationally in order to be able to identify what is real and what isn’t. Use meditation, breathing and calming techniques to exercise this reality.
Express gratitude – Learn to change your thinking patterns. Find little things you are grateful for. It could be that the weather was nice today, you did an act of kindness or you are grateful for your support system.
Visualise success – However hard it may feel, it’s important that you look at where you would like to get, and move towards it. You will have set backs from time to time, but you know what you would like to achieve.
Facing Fears: Exposure
Step 4 outlines one of the most powerful tools for managing anxiety. You will learn how to deal with your fears by gradually facing them one step at a time.
One of the most powerful tools we have is the ability of thought processing. The way we perceive anxiety and panic will determine the ability to deal with these efficiently. Changing perspective will give you more skills to be in a better position to eliminate and / or reduce thinking which might lead to feeling anxious.
Through repeated efforts with regards to changing and improving our lifestyle, building healthy relationships and being aware of our state of being, we will be in a better position to manage anxiety and lead a better quality of life. Being surrounded by supportive individuals and keeping ourselves well informed can help in learning how to deal with anxiety effectively. Seeking professional support when needed is also key.
Continuing the Journey
Staying on Track
Help prepare yourself for the future with strategies aimed at supporting your gains and keeping anxiety in check. Step 5 highlights the importance of maintaining your foundational skills.
Recovery can take time and is different for everyone. As well as getting treatment underway, you’ll need to find new ways to manage and live with the changes and challenges of anxiety and/or depression.
While psychological and/or medical treatment can help with your recovery, there are many other ways you can help yourself to get better and stay well.
Stages of recovery
Recovery is a unique and individual process that everyone goes through differently. However, there are some common emotions that many people may experience, such as:
- Shock at having to deal with something difficult and scary that you have no prior experience of
- Denial or difficulty in accepting having a mental health problem, particularly one that many people find hard to understand
- Despair and anger at having to deal with the condition and its related difficulties
- Acceptance of having a condition and the changes it brings, and accepting how you see yourself
- Coping by finding new ways to live with and tackle these changes and challenges
Recovery goes beyond focusing on managing distressing symptoms but about having choices and being able to create a meaningful and contributing life.