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Anxiety Self-Care Protocol

Anxiety is a normal part of the human condition and, in most ways, is very adaptive. If we think in terms of the evolution of the human species we see that it is adaptive. In fact, our species would not have survived without anxiety. Too much anxiety, of course, can make living uncomfortable at best. The following is a discussion of anxiety, where it comes from and what you can do to manage it. Understanding anxiety is a significant part of the cure. In addition to this document we suggest you order the corresponding TherapyWorks Workbook Mastery of Your Anxiety and Panic-Second Edition. (To order: 800-211-8378 ext.95780)

Part II: Skills For Anxiety Self-Management

General Outline


  1. Decrease caffeine
  2. Increase exercise
  3. Vision, etc.
  4. Practice non-avoidance
  5. Observe and alter self-statements
  6. Paradoxical Intention Verbalized
  7. Assertiveness training
  8. Self-esteem
  9. Socialization and self-ownership


  1. Tracking subjective experience
  2. Tracking behavior list

Progressive Desensitization

  1. List fears - fears of fears - fears under fears
  2. Develop hierarchy for each (include own symptoms)
  3. Assign anxiety level 0-100
  4. Learn progressive relaxation
  5. Desensitize
  6. Field practice
  7. Analyzing current triggers (and trigger beneath trigger)

Uncover Past Learning

  1. Security/insecurity at home
  2. Abandonment fear
  3. Family HX of anxiety

Handling Stress

  1. Stage of Preparing for a Stressor
    • What is it I want to do?
    • I can develop a plan to deal with it.
    • I can manage this situation.
    • Don't worry; worry won't help anything.
    • Remember that avoiding feared situations only makes my fears worse.
    • I want to approach what I fear to cope with my anxiety.

  2. Stage of Confronting and Handling a Stressor
    • One step at a time.
    • I can meet this challenge.
    • Don't think about the fear, just about what I am going to do.
    • Stay relevant!!!
    • I can handle this situation.
    • This anxiety is what my therapist said I would feel. It's just a reminder to use this situation as a way to learn to cope
    • with anxiety.
    • Use my relaxation response techniques:

      1. Close your eyes and sit quietly, letting go of any distracting thoughts (20 seconds)
      2. Bend your arms, then cross them in front of your chest. Tighten your fists, arms, shoulders, chest and back, and lift your shoulders to your ears, while you're breathing (10 seconds). Now relax (15-20 seconds).
      3. Crunch your face up, wrinkle your nose, squint your eyes, purse your lips and bit down on your teeth (10 seconds).
      4. Take a deep breath, pull in your stomach and tense your lower back. Hold your breath while counting to six. Then exhale SLOWLY. Now relax (15-20 seconds).
      5. Extend your legs and tense them, while pointing your toes toward your head (10 seconds). Now relax (15-20 seconds).
      6. Repeat Steps 2-5.
      7. Sit quietly, clearing your mind and focusing on your gentle breathing or on a pleasant scene in your mind as you invite your body to feel relaxed, warm, and heavy (60 seconds).
      8. Open your eyes, feeling refreshed and at ease.

      1. Grab and squeeze the armrest of your chair, tensing your upper and lower arms. Tense your stomach and leg muscles as well. Hold that position about 10 seconds while you continue to breathe.
      2. Let go and take a Calming Breath.
      3. Repeat two more times.
      4. Shift around in your seat, shaking loose your arms, shoulders, and legs, and gently rolling your head a few times.
      5. Close your eyes and breathe gently for about 30 seconds. Let your body feel warm, relaxed and heavy during that time.

      1. Sit comfortably.
      2. Take a long, deep breath and exhale it slowly while saying the work "relax" under your breath.
      3. Close your eyes.
      4. Let yourself take ten natural, easy breaths. Count down with each exhale, starting with "ten".
      5. This time, while you are breathing comfortably, notice any tensions, perhaps in your jaw or forehead or stomach. Imagine those tensions loosening.
      6. When you reach "one" open your eyes again.

      1. Take a deep breath, filling first your lower lungs, then your upper lungs.
      2. Slowly exhale, saying, "relax" (or a similar word) under your breath.
      3. Let your muscles go limp and warm; loosen your face and jaw muscles.
      4. Remain in this resting position physically and mentally for a few seconds, or for a couple of natural breaths.

  3. Stage of Coping with Feelings of Being Overwhelmed
    • Keep the focus on the present.
    • What is it that I want to do?
    • When the fear comes, just pause.
    • I was supposed to expect my fear to rise.
    • I feel my fears rising and I accept that as a fact.
    • Let me label my fear from 0-10 and watch it change.
    • It's not the worst thing that could happen.
    • Don't run away.
    • If I stay, in time my anxiety will certainly decrease.
    • This is an opportunity to learn to cope with my fears.
    • My anxiety won't hurt me.

  4. Reinforcing Self-Statements
    • It worked! I was able to do it!
    • Wait until the group hears about this.
    • It wasn't as bad as I expected.
    • I made more out of the fear than it was worth.
    • My negative thoughts, that's a large part of the problem. When I control my negative thoughts and anticipation's, I control my fear.
    • It's getting better each time I confront fear.
    • I'm really pleased with the progress I'm making.
    • I can learn to overcome my fears!!!

Part III: Communication Skills and Dealing With Emotions >>


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