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Alcohol and Mental Health

8 CBT Techniques for Anxiety To Try at Home

July 27, 2023
8 min read
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Reframe Content Team
A team of researchers and psychologists who specialize in behavioral health and neuroscience. This group collaborates to produce insightful and evidence-based content.
July 27, 2023
8 min read
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Certified recovery coach specialized in helping everyone redefine their relationship with alcohol. His approach in coaching focuses on habit formation and addressing the stress in our lives.
July 27, 2023
8 min read
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Recognized by Fortune and Fast Company as a top innovator shaping the future of health and known for his pivotal role in helping individuals change their relationship with alcohol.
July 27, 2023
8 min read
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Reframe Content Team
July 27, 2023
8 min read

Navigating life can sometimes feel like steering a ship through a storm. Work pressures, personal relationships, social obligations all create waves of stress and anxiety. If we add the process of cutting back on or quitting alcohol, the storm intensifies. In these moments, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) can serve as our compass, providing direction and grounding amidst the chaos.

CBT is a form of psychotherapy that empowers us to manage anxiety by changing our thought patterns, feelings, and behaviors. This is especially critical when reducing alcohol use, as anxiety can trigger a relapse. Let's delve deeper into eight CBT techniques that we can practice to manage anxiety at home.

1. Cognitive Reappraisal: Changing Our Perspective

Cognitive reappraisal is a potent technique for managing anxiety. It involves identifying negative thought patterns and intentionally reframing them to decrease their emotional impact. For example, if we find ourselves thinking, "This traffic is a disaster, I'll be late, and the day is ruined," we can reframe it to, "Traffic is out of my control. This gives me time to relax and listen to my favorite podcast before the busy day ahead."

2. Behavioral Activation: Engaging in Rewarding Activities

Behavioral activation centers on involving ourselves in activities that bring joy and a sense of achievement. When we engage in rewarding activities, we focus less on our anxious thoughts and more on the task at hand. So, dust off that guitar, join a dance class, or engage in any activity that brings a smile to your face!

3. Mindfulness-Based Techniques: Living in the Present

Mindfulness techniques guide us to stay present, experience the moment fully, and accept it without judgment. Practicing mindfulness, whether through meditation or during daily activities like eating or walking, helps us observe our anxiety without getting caught up in it. The aim is not to remove anxiety but to understand that it's a transient feeling, not our defining feature. As we cultivate this nonjudgmental awareness, we can carry it through our lives and be more present with stressful situations without getting consumed by them. 

4. Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR): Releasing Tension

PMR is a relaxation technique that involves tensing and then releasing different muscle groups. Anxiety often causes physical symptoms like muscle tension, PMR can help alleviate these symptoms. Start from your toes, moving up to your legs, stomach, arms, and finally, your face, tensing and releasing each group in turn. You’ll find your body and mind relaxing in harmony.

5. Exposure Therapy: Facing Our Fears

Exposure therapy is a more proactive approach to managing anxiety. It involves making a list of situations that cause anxiety and then consciously putting ourselves in those situations. Whether that’s an in-person networking event or trying a new exercise class, choosing situations that are distressing yet manageable can be an effective way to overcome our trepidation. This might sound counterintuitive, but gradual and repeated exposure to our fears can reduce the fear response, making us better equipped to handle anxiety.

6. Self-Monitoring: Tracking Our Thoughts, Feelings, and Behaviors

Keeping a diary of our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors can help us understand our anxiety better. When we jot down the situations that cause anxiety, our thoughts during those times, and how we react, we can identify patterns. This awareness can be instrumental in recognizing triggers and planning effective responses. 

7. Problem-Solving: Taking Charge

Problem-solving techniques give us control over our anxiety. First, we identify a problem that's causing stress, such as a looming work deadline or a relationship conflict. Then we brainstorm potential solutions, weigh their pros and cons, and finally, decide on a course of action. This technique can reduce the feelings of uncertainty and helplessness that often accompany anxiety by allowing us to take methodical action. 

8. Graded Exposure: One Step at a Time

Graded exposure is a variation of exposure therapy that works by breaking down the anxiety-inducing situation into smaller, manageable parts. We start by confronting the least anxiety-provoking scenario, gradually working our way up to more daunting ones. This method allows us to build confidence and resilience slowly and steadily. Tackling more challenging situations builds our resilience and capacity to challenge ourselves. 

CBT Techniques for Anxiety: Final Thoughts

Managing anxiety, especially when accompanied by the process of quitting or reducing alcohol use, can be challenging. Still, with the help of these CBT techniques, we can develop a better understanding of our anxiety and cultivate effective strategies to handle it. We are not helpless in the face of anxiety. We have the tools to navigate through the storm and guide our ship to calmer waters. The waves might be daunting, but they don’t command the ship — we do!

Take Back Control With Reframe!

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