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POPULAR ARTICLES

Happy Habits: 50 Suggestions

The Secret of Happiness: Let It Find You (But Make the Effort)

Promoting Healthy Behavior Change

10 Common Errors in CBT

Why Are People Mean? Don't Take It Personally!

What to Do When Your Jealousy Threatens to Destroy Your Marriage

Rejection Sensitivity, Irrational Jealousy and Impact on Relationships

When You Have Been Betrayed

Crazy-Makers: Passive-Aggressive People

For Women Only: How to Have the Relationship of Your Dreams

What to Do When Your Partner's Jealousy Threatens to Destroy Your Relationship

Making Attributions for a Healthier Attitude

Happiness is An Attitude

Conflict in the Workplace

Motivation: Intrinsic vs. Extrinsic

Thinking Your Way to a Healthy Weight

Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics

Guide to How to Set Achieveable Goals

Excellence vs. Perfection

Depression is Not Sadness

Feedback, Self-Efficacy and the Development of Motor skills

The Effectiveness of Cognitive-Behavioral Treatment for Anxiety Disorders

Performance Enhancement in the Martial Arts: A Review

Catastrophe? Or Inconvenience?





RECENT ARTICLES

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50 Tools for Panic and Anxiety

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Struggling to Forgive: An Inability to Grieve

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NEW AUDIOS

Riding a Horse Across the Plains

Cityscape Mindfulness

Change Yourself--Don't Wait for the World to Change

The Great Desert Mindfulness

Tropical Garden Mindfulness

Thinking Your Way to a Healthy Weight

Lies You Were Told

Probability and OCD

Choosing Happiness

Magic Bubbles for Children

Lotus Flower Relaxation

Cloud Castles for Children

Hot Air Balloon Motivation

Day of Fishing Mindfulness

Audio Version of Article: Struggling to Forgive: An Inability to Grieve

Audio Version of Article: Crazy-Makers: Passive-Aggressive People

Audio Version of Article: Why Are People Mean? Don't Take It Personally!

Audio Version of Article: Happiness Is An Attitude

All Audio Articles

50 TOOLS FOR PANIC AND ANXIETY--page 1

by Monica A. Frank, Ph.D.
Tap to Listen to Article
"50 CBT tools for panic and anxiety are divided into several categories: general skills, initial relaxation training, initial cognitive restructuring, advanced mindfulness training, advanced cognitive restructuring, and exposure treatment."

USING THESE TOOLS

As a therapist, the reason I like cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is because with the multitude of tools available to a therapist, there is almost always a solution to a given problem. Granted, the solution may not always be easy, but at least CBT offers concrete possibilities. I always tell my clients not to worry about failing with any particular method because even if a method doesn't work it can give us more information about what might be helpful. This article describes 50 different CBT methods to help learn how to manage panic and anxiety.

If you have read my previous articles describing CBT suggestions such as Happy Habits: 50 Suggestions or Stress: 50 Suggestions you will find one important difference regarding this list for panic and anxiety. For happiness, depression, or stress, the order of using the different suggestions is not as critical. However, this list of CBT tools for anxiety is presented in a general order presenting the initial tools to learn through the more advanced tools to learn. The purpose is to provide more of a training procedure as some of the advanced tools require proficiency with the earlier training methods.

However, the tools do not have to be used in the exact order they are presented, nor or all the methods appropriate for every person or situation. Therefore, it is best to have a therapist help determine which methods may be most useful in your circumstances and to help guide you. In addition, if you require the more advanced techniques (some people may not because the initial methods may be effective), it is particularly important to have therapeutic assistance. Techniques such as exposure therapy can be quite intense and, if done inaccurately, can have the opposite of the desired effect and cause increased anxiety (this will be discussed in more depth in the section about exposures).

In addition, with panic and anxiety it is always recommended to have a full medical examination to rule out physical conditions that can mimic anxiety or increase anxiety (thyroid conditions, asthma, high blood pressure, etc). However, the purpose of the medical examination is not for treatment of the anxiety disorder but for treatment of any physical conditions that could be present and impacting anxiety.

I say this because many times physicians want to immediately prescribe medication when they hear complaints of anxiety. Yet, research clearly shows that CBT is as effective as medication if not superior for certain conditions (Anderson et al., 2012). And CBT does not have the serious side-effects and possible long-term consequences of medication. Therefore, it seems sensible to pursue a path that is less likely to do harm and just as likely to help.

In addition, ruling out medical conditions can aid with the cognitive methods of challenging irrational thinking. For instance, if you have had a medical examination ruling out heart disease you are much more likely to believe the statement “These feelings are not a sign of heart disease. This is just anxiety which is a normal condition of the body and can't hurt me.”

The following 50 CBT tools for panic and anxiety are divided into several categories explained in greater detail at the beginning of each section: general skills, initial relaxation training, initial cognitive restructuring, advanced mindfulness training, advanced cognitive restructuring, and exposure treatment. The best approach to the following methods is to start with the initial tools, learn them well, and then continue with the more advanced tools.

Although you may choose to learn some of the initial skills concurrently such as learning relaxation while learning about cognitive restructuring, it is best to pursue the more advanced skills after you have mastered the initial skills.

GENERAL SKILLS

Suggestion 1: Reward

Engaging in a program to learn to control panic and anxiety requires effort. Although some aspects may be immediately rewarding because anxiety reduces or because a method might be pleasant (such as relaxation), to truly manage anxiety you need to make changes in your thinking and lifestyle. When people make lifestyle changes such as exercise or weight loss, they erroneously believe that the reward of the change will be enough.

Unfortunately, that is not true most of the time. Although most change is rewarding in the long-term it does not provide much immediate reward or at least not comparable to the amount of effort required. Without immediate reward people are more likely to quit their attempts to change their lifestyle because making changes can be uncomfortable. Therefore, if you want to manage anxiety not just for the moment but for the future you need to start by developing a reward system.

First, identify various rewards. Make a list of things that are rewarding to you. This list will vary from person to person but it can include activities you enjoy, foods that you like, buying yourself something, etc. It can also include reward from other people (if they agree) such as a massage from your spouse or going to a movie with a friend.

Once you have made this list, reward yourself frequently! Don't withhold reward because something you tried didn't work. Reward yourself for trying! You can even reward yourself for making your list of rewards. The idea of reward is to help motivate you . The task of changing your thinking and lifestyle is difficult enough so don't be stingy with the reward.

By the way, just giving yourself reward can be a change in thinking for many people with anxiety. Often, people think “I SHOULD just do this because it is good for me. Feeling better should be enough reward.” So when you give yourself a reward for making the attempt to change then you ARE changing the perfectionistic demands or “shoulds” that tend to increase anxiety. READ MORE: page 2

Using These Tools and General Skills--page 1

General Skills (cont.)--page 2

Initial Relaxation Training--page 3

Initial Relaxation Training (cont.)--page 4

Initial Cognitive Training--page 5

Initial Cognitive Training (cont.)--page 6

Initial Cognitive Training (cont.)--page 7

Initial Cognitive Training (cont.)--page 8

Advanced Mindfulness--page 9

Advanced Mindfulness (cont.)--page 10

Advanced Cognitive Training--page 11

Advanced Cognitive Training (cont.)--page 12

Exposure Methods--page 13

Exposure Methods (cont.)--page 14

Exposure Methods--page 15

Exposure Methods (cont.)--page 16

The Secret of Happiness: Let It Find You (But Make the Effort)--page 1

by Monica A. Frank, Ph.D.
"...happiness doesn't come with fireworks and a parade. Instead, it sneaks in quietly as the night so that you don't realize it has been there for awhile."

The first and most important key to finding happiness may be the most difficult for many people (especially those reading this article): To find happiness you must not seek it! In other words, the more you try to find happiness, the more it will elude you. I think Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864) said it best, “Happiness is a butterfly, which when pursued, is always just beyond your grasp, but which, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you.”

However, don't be discouraged. You can do many things to create a life where happiness is more likely to find you. Yet, the same caveat applies: If you do everything for the purpose of finding happiness, you may achieve much, but you are not likely to find happiness. Researcher Mauss and colleagues (2012) who found that the higher the value a person places on being happy, the more likely they are to be unhappy, stated, “encouraging a mindset to maximize happiness (as some “self-help” books do) may be counterproductive.”

The reason happiness becomes elusive the more you strive for it is due to creating a fixed desire of achieving happiness. If you have read some of my previous articles, you know that a fixed desire is a demand that something has to occur, or be true, or be achieved in order to be happy. Demands, or “shoulds,” are irrational thinking styles that create conditions for stress and unhappiness. Most of the time these demands take the form of “To be happy, I must be thin and wealthy” or “I must find the love of my dreams” or “I must have a fulfilling job.” In fact, a fixed desire can be almost anything. It could be "I should feel good today" or "My son should get an A on his exam."

However, typically the demands are not completely under the control of the individual and/or they are externally focused which means that the individual may not be able to make these things occur even with a great deal of effort. Therefore, this demand attitude allows happiness to be at the whim of the external world.

In the case of happiness itself, many people make the attainment of happiness a fixed desire: “I must be happy.” However, it is only when we realize that we don't need to be happy that we can find happiness. As William Saroyan (1908-1981) said in My Heart's in the Highlands “The greatest happiness you can have is knowing that you do not necessarily require happiness.”

The difference between a fixed desire and a desire or a goal is that the latter doesn't connect personal happiness with the outcome. For instance, a person may desire to find a fulfilling job but doesn't demand that it has to occur.

Interestingly, people who have desires rather than demands may be more likely to achieve their goals (Berg, Janoff-Bulman, & Cotter, 2001) possibly because they are more motivated and less discouraged. When the very essence of happiness is dependent upon the achievement of a goal, striving towards that goal can be quite overwhelming and even frightening: “What if I fail?”

The one time I experienced test anxiety was just as I started to take the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) that would affect my entrance into graduate school to become a psychologist. Just before I picked up my pencil, I said to myself, “This is the most important test you will ever take. If you don't do well, your life will be ruined.” My anxiety shot up as I opened the booklet to read the first question which might as well have been written in Russian because I couldn't comprehend a single word. Fortunately, I knew enough about self-talk and recognized what I had done to myself, so I put my pencil down, did five minutes of deep breathing and told myself, “This test doesn't matter. If you fail, all it means is that your life will take a different path.” That is the difference between a fixed desire and a desire.

The Tau te Ching (also known as “The Book of the Way” which I think of as early cognitive therapy) states, “If you want to be given everything, give everything up.” If you reflect on this statement you may realize that to give everything up, you must also give up the desire to be given everything. Very paradoxical and mind-boggling, isn't it? But that is the first step: To find happiness you must not seek it.

Similarly, Charles Dickens stated in his novel The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby, “Happiness is a gift and the trick is not to expect it, but to delight in it when it comes.”

However, that being said, let's discuss how to achieve happiness. Actually, how to create the conditions so that happiness can find you. The work to finding happiness is to remove the obstacles to happiness. READ MORE: page 2

Intro  to Secret of Happiness--page 1

What Is Happiness?--page 2

Is Happiness Possible for Everyone?--page 3

What Intentional Behaviors Can Influence Happiness?--page 4

How Do You Choose Which Intentional Behaviors to Pursue?--page 5

A Final Word About How to Know Happiness When it Finds You--page 6