We’re going to aim for two things within this email:
1. Build on the work you started last week of capturing what’s going on for you in an anxiety moment, by asking you to record what you do that makes that anxiety better or worse
2. Show you how to develop a process that will help you better manage yourself in those moments
1. Capturing what does and doesn’t work
It’s likely that, given some of the responses that you’ve given us to the follow up surveys, that most of you already have some strategies that help you manage anxiety, whether it be counting from 1 to 10, practicing slow breathing or scanning for particularly stressful situations.
Some of your strategies may be aimed at dealing directly with the stressor or trigger, while others may simply be about managing the emotional discomfort that they produce. How conscious you are of using a particular strategy can vary enormously. Slow breathing, for example, does require that we pay some conscious attention to what’s going on in our bodies. Other strategies, including safety behaviours such as avoiding eye contact, are ones that we may not be so consciously aware of.
Being more conscious of the strategies that we employ has two significant benefits:
1. It can help us identify the strategies we employ for different situations and identify underlying patterns (e.g. whether we have a habitual ‘go to’ pattern, or do things that actually make the situation worse)
2. If we understand our current repertoire of strategies and how well they serve us, we can either do more of what works, or expand our repertoire with further tools
2. Developing a process
The exercise that follows is about becoming more conscious of the strategies you employ that make your anxiety better or worse, and you’ll be drawing on the work you started last week of capturing what goes on in your anxious moments.
In a subsequent edition, we’ll be offering you a tool that will help you to evaluate the effectiveness of your strategies and start to identify other options if needed.