Self Help Techniques for
Overcoming Anxiety Habits

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Topics covered on this page:

1. Which self help technique?
2. Practice makes perfect - why you need to practise it before you can use it.
3. Self help techniques to use when anxious
4. Techniques for everyday feeling calmer
5. General feelgood techniques

1. Which Self Help Technique?

Various self help techniques may be used in overcoming anxiety. Each person has to decide for themself which are the most appropriate in their own particular circumstances. What some people find works for them may not work for others - there are no hard and fast rules.

It's important to do what feels good

Although the mechanisms behind anxiety - the survival instinct and the arousal system - are basically the same for everyone, the ways in which we each interpret our own anxiety responses in different circumstances is personal to each of us.

Therefore I suggest that you read through the various self help techniques described here and consider which you feel drawn to and which you may be less enthusiastic about.

There's no point trying to make yourself follow a system which you don't believe will be helpful since in your own mind you will have already decided it won't work.

On the other hand, all the techniques described here have been found helpful by some at the very least.

Each of these techniques will work but only those which you feel drawn to will work for you, so start with them.

2. Practice makes perfect

The methods described on the pages in this section are each a form of skilled behaviour. As with any other skill, they require practice before anyone can hope to perform them efficiently.

For that reason it is suggested that you practise just the technique alone when you are not feeling anxious. This will enable you to learn how to do it easily and effortlessly when you are not under pressure.

Only when you have mastered a technique when feeling calm or neutral can you hope to be able to use it effectively when the chips are down.

Too many people make the mistake of being introduced to a new technique and then trying to apply it during a bad anxiety attack. This often fails to work so they then assume the technique doesn't work.

That is not the case.

You must practise a technique first and become used to using it before you can expect it to work in more severe circumstances. After all, it must be strong enough to overrule your survival instinct!

You must first learn the technique and be able to use it without having to think too much about it.

The techniques fall into three categories.

3. Self help techniques to use when anxious

These are skills to use to stop anxieties from increasing in a particular situation. 

For example, you might use one of these, or a combination of them, to head off a panic attack. if you have a phobia you might use one or more of these when confronted by what you fear.

Once learnt, these skills can be helpful when you are actually experiencing raised negative arousal (anxiety) about something.

calm scene to control anxiety
blanking thoughts to reduce anxiety
using breath focus to zap anxiety
stopping head conversations to zap anxiety
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4. Techniques for everyday feeling calmer

The second category are those techniques which, if practised regularly, can reduce your general arousal level and make you less susceptible to anxiety in general. 

The lower you can keep your arousal level generally day to day, the less susceptible you are to uncontrollable or inappropriate anxiety

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logo representing subliminal messages
symbol representing the use of visualisation for overcoming anxiety
symbol representing self talk
symbol representing mindfulness
ladder symbol representing use of a therapeutic hierarchy

5. General Feelgood Techniques

Finally there are some things which are enjoyable to do. Anything pleasurable that we do regularly will reduce our general anxiety levels and make us feel more positive.

Boredom creates anxiety just as much as when unpleasant things happen or you become afraid of something. Therefore having interests which absorb you is the single easiest step to take to beat anxiety habits.

In order to feel anxious we need to think about anxiety provoking things. If we are totally engrossed in doing something enjoyable, by definition, we don't have headspace for those negative thoughts - hence no anxiety.

I have just listed some possibilities below. There are hundreds of others.

You might be a gardener, draw, do colouring, bake cakes, sew, knit, crochet, train your dog, take photographs, write poems, even build a website. There are just so many wonderful things to do that are preferable to feeling anxious.

pink flowers for mindful aromatherapy
soles of feet for mindful reflexology
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woman with dumbbells for mindful exercise
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  1. Overcoming Anxiety
  2. Self Help Techniques