Hi to all Careboxy readers! In previous article, we have talked about our suffering and how we can turn suffering to vitality. In this article, we will be talking about tangible steps how can we go through meaningful life with anxious thoughts&emotions.
We have found our values in previous article. If we have values in our life, we also have actions for them. Like we mentioned, values without actions are just beliefs. For actions, we need a goal. Without goal, you are not living your values consistently. You may lose your aliveness and purpose. There are also researches about goal setting which are saying that goal setting is actually making you closer to your goals.
Here’s a breakdown of what we’ll cover:
♥HOW TO PRIORITIZE YOUR ACTIONS ON VALUES?
♥HOW TO DEFINE YOUR GOALS and STEPS
♥COMMON STRATEGIES for ANXIETY BARRIERS
♥SKILLS BEFORE EXPOSURE and DURING EXPOSURE
HOW TO PRIORITIZE YOUR ACTIONS ON VALUES
When you choose your actions and goals. Firstly you need to choose a priority value area. Let’s do a sample:
If you are regretful about your social relationship than your family, you can start to take actions on your social value area although you have some anxiety barriers. Therefore you need to define your values on previous article, then you need to prioritize the valued areas to act on.
Another criteria to prioritize your values are based on your satisfaction about your actions on that value. If you feel stuck on any area much more than others, you need to start with that value area. You can start with your career value if you are not satisfied and you have barriers of thoughts and anxiety. If you don’t give importance to your health as your career, you can start with your career value.
HOW TO DEFINE YOUR GOALS and STEPS
When choosing and defining our goals, there is a famous framework called SMART. Therefore you need to be :
- Specific: about choosing your goal
- Measurable: your goal need to be measurable somehow
- Achievable: consider your skills on that goal
- Realistic: big unrealistic goals makes you less confident on your future actions
- Time: if you don’t have time limit, you ll be probably ignoring your actions
- Your value is being an active dad with kids.
- But you have some obsessions about germs outside.
- Your goal can be : doing at least one outside activity per week that kids and you like.
- After you created that goal you need to have steps as short term goals.
ORDER STEPS INCREMENTALLY or START WITH EASIEST
Create incremental steps to achieve this goal. You can have steps like:
- Make a list with the kids for common activities
- Practice sitting outside in grass three times
- Do two low-anxiety-provoking activities each week
- Do two medium-anxiety-provoking activities each week
- Do two high-anxiety-provoking activities each week
If you have problems with creating incremental goal steps, you can also choose most basic easiest activity for you. Then you can change parameters below and add extra steps to your actions.
- Length of time: trying for 30 seconds first, then 1 minutes
- Time of day: you can try walking outside in rush hour or morning
- Environment: you can try walking in very small park then you can enlarge park area
- Who is with you: you may go with your spouse first then alone.
But you should go at a pace that you can manage and remember your steps must have
- Planned: therefore you can manage situations
- Prolonged: change duration of trials or change intensity
- Repeated: try to repeat in a specific time frame
Let’s consider you have social phobia, but you value about your career. Normally you are very anxious about presentations.
- Create an incremental steps and plan,prolong,repeat it.
- After every exposure, write barriers you faced to 2nd column.
|Value: have a good career|
|Goal: making a public presentation|
|Making one presentation in front of mirror||Thoughts about speaking in public|
|Making one presentation to my friends||Thoughts “what friends think about me”|
|Making one short presentation to a small group||Thoughts: “what if i fail”, sensations: some heart bumps|
|Making one 10 minutes presentation to a small group||Thoughts “what if i fail and forget”, sensations: some sweat and leg shaking|
|Making one short presentation to 30-50 people||Very fearful, thoughts” they are looking at me”|
|Making one 10-20 minute presentation to 30-50 people||Thoughts are in my mind since 2 weeks ago|
COMMON STRATEGIES for BARRIERS, SKILLS BEFORE EXPOSURE and DURING EXPOSURE
We need to prepare ourselves for actions and possible barriers like we showed above chart. We need to be planned and skilled for action steps. Acceptance, letting go, defusion, observing skills take some time. But mind that
- These are not controlling techniques for anxiety
- These techniques should not be done for purpose of lessening anxiety in long term
- These techniques should remember you to go to your valued direction and when anxiety comes, you can be willing to choose your values direction instead of controlling and feeding your anxiety thoughts and feelings.
- Your values are always your compass.
Your value to make any action is most critical point. If you don’t have clear value, your emotion and thoughts drive you to their way. You will lose your way in your life. Therefore, live with your values and make all exercises with your values on mind.
1. Prepare for worrying or remembering past stories
When we are trying exposure, our mind to try to attach past memories and worries. It is mind’s normal behavior. However, we are in safe in present moment. Present moment is without worry for future or past memories.
For being present time you need at least daily practice of
- Mindfulness practices: we added to our free Anxiety Chatbot app guide as Mindfulness breathing, body scan and others.
These practices makes you aware of present moment, according to research 8 week mindfulness practice makes you more in present moment. Therefore, you may be with your present moment other than worries and past. You will feel raw experience of what you are doing at that moment.
2. Prepare for the discomfort thoughts-images
Thoughts and images are created by our mind. Our thoughts and images can make us more anxious if we feed and attach to them. It is sure we can remember some thoughts and images.
To give up feeding them:
- Work on your mindfulness practices, that will make you focus on present moment, you won’t deal with thoughts
To detach from them:
- Work on daily your defusion exercises, you can make
- Mind Watching exercise: it is helping you to notice and label your thought. See your thoughts as a changing thing like clouds
- Separation of emotion,thought,behavior exercise: this exercise clearly guides you on separation of your thoughts, emotions and behavior. Think about any anxious event and draw 3 circles. Write your thoughts, emotions and behaviors in a separate circle.
- Bubble Wand visualization exercise: When a thought comes, put them in bubble and watch them it is going up to sky. How do you feel now?
- Special words : just think about your thought like a separate object and say this sentence inside “ I am having a thought of ..”
To be kind with your thoughts;
- Work on your kindness exercises, kindness will let them go. Your letting go skills will be beneficial , when anxiety comes up.
- Kindness is antidote of blaming your anxiety.
- Daily practice your “Holding Anxiety Gently” practice on free Anxiety Chatbot.
3. Prepare for discomfort feelings
Your anxiety and fear emotions are also like waves. They come and go like thoughts. Prepare yourself for intense emotions, focusing on moment of experience, accepting your anxiety while choosing your direction through values.
To surf with your anxiety
- Practice your Anxiety and Fear surfing: it will make you prepare for intense emotions. You can visualize the scene of your anxiety. You will watch your sensations, thought and label them without attaching to them. Anxiety like a wave comes and goes in body.
To focus on your experience
- Like we mentioned below mindfulness exercises prepare you focusing on present moment
Remind your values
- Remember your values doing any exposure or at the moment of any action.
- Switch your willingness on if anxiety comes up, and go with anxiety through your values.
- Be clear about your intention before your exposure. You may have some initial anxiety but then it will slow down. If you don’t resist, the wave drive you to safe land.
4. Prepare for urging/avoidance
Our tendency for anxiety is avoidance. We need acceptance skills to let go of avoidance.
To ride your urges:
- Try Riding storm exercise: this exercise again will prepare you for anxiety wave. With exercise, you ll imagine yourself in anxiety scene. You ll notice bodily sensations, thoughts and urges. You create a space for anxiety therefore you can start going to valued direction.
5. Prepare for bodily sensations
Anxiety also comes with its bodily sensations. You can feel heart bumps, dizziness or out of breath. Mind’s automatic response can be avoidance of these sensations. However you can also practice these discomfort sensations.
- Ice cube exercise: with ice cube exercise, you get used to difficult situations and see how your body senses. You ll notice your avoidant thoughts with exercise. It is simple exercise to prepare for body discomforts
- Aerobic exercise: some intense jogging or climbing steps exercises will create discomfort on your body. Noticing your sensations with acceptance and noticing your some urges is beneficial for acceptance on your body discomfort
- Harder exercises: you can also try some dizziness or out of breath exercises. But mind that you need to be healthy without any medical problem. You should not do these exercises before you ask to your doctor. These dizziness and “out of breath” exercises are harder.
- Being willingly dizzy with spinning around chair or shaking your head in an incremental pace.
- Being willingly out of breath exercises are breath holding, fast breathing and breathing through a straw. These exercises are hard to practice, therefore you need health checkup.
After we got skills to have a peace with anxiety, we can create a new table for our goals and actions. With this table, you can also see your favorite strategy in a new column.
Let’s have a sample agoraphobia story and create action scenario for him. We need to create a small actionable steps. After we created every step,
- We can write discomfort feeling,though or urge to barriers
- We can write workable strategies for strategies part
- And completed date
You can change parameters and create an order from easiest to hardest.
- Location closeness to your home
- Time duration in park
- Supporter person or alone
- Day choice and hour choice
The story is : “I suffered from acute agoraphobia: I was terrified to leave the house. I wouldn’t ride on planes, trains or any form of public transport. I was terrified of being caught in traffic jams, lifts, shopping centers, open spaces, crowds and especially hot, crowded rooms.”
|Value: having a good social relationships|
|Goal: going to a crowded park|
|Going to a closer park in a morning||In 1 week|
|Going to park away in a morning|
|Going to a park closer at noon|
|Going to a park away at noon|
|Going to a park closer in rush hour|
|Going to a park away in rush hour|
|SUCCESS! And repeat!|
ARE YOU READY FOR A CHANGE?
The important thing with your action is your readiness and willingness. Maybe you have tried lots of controlling methods of your anxiety in years, some medications and trying not to think about your thoughts. Now you can be willing to take actions with this perspective and your direction must be your values. Your values bring you confidence and purpose to take action about if you deeply care about your values.
That’s why you can go to article for finding your values. Choice your direction in your life with your values.
We have also created a free Anxiety Chatbot for that. Our aim is to help to find your values and be willing to live with anxiety through your valued direction. We have created APP like lessons. You will have a chance to gain skills to have a new relationship with anxiety. You will have peace with it and go through your values.