Introduction to CBT for Anxiety

Anxious Woman

Cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT, is one of the most effective ways to manage anxiety. CBT for anxiety focuses on modifying thoughts and behaviors that are contributing to anxiety is ways that decrease anxiety. A basic premise of CBT is that if we change the way we think, we change the way we feel. And the same is true of behavior. If we change the way we act, we also change the way we feel.

In CBT we’re concerned with how our:

  • thoughts
  • feelings and emotions
  • actions and behaviors
  • and physiological symptoms and physical sensations in our bodies

interact with and influence one another.

Anxiety has a big effect on both our thoughts and our bodies. When we’re anxious, we tend to worry a lot, our minds start to race, and we get stuck in our heads. It can be difficult to focus on anything outside our own thoughts. And it can feel almost impossible to slow our minds down enough to concentrate, think clearly, relax or even fall asleep.

Anxious Man

Anxiety is also usually accompanied by uncomfortable physiological/physical symptoms and body sensations. We can feel lightheaded, tightness in our throats or chests, tension in our heads, necks and jaws, butterflies in our stomachs, weak in the knees, and so on. And we can experience symptoms such as heart palpitations, GI distress, headaches and countless others.

In this self-help series on anxiety we’ll learn strategies to manage these type of symptoms, as well as to reduce anxiety by modifying our thoughts and behavior. In the video below we’ll look at the connection between how we think and how we feel. And then explore the interrelationships between our thoughts, behavior, feelings and emotions, and physiological/physical symptoms and body sensations.

The ABCs of CBT

The next time you experience some anxiety, try recording your thoughts, feelings, behavior, and physical symptoms and sensations on this pdf worksheet. This exercise can really help us start to understand how our own thoughts, behavior, feelings, and body interact and influence each another when we’re feeling anxious.

In the next couple of posts we’ll explore the relationship between anxiety and behavior. Then we’ll focus on our thoughts, and finish up by looking at how to respond to emotions and physical symptoms associated with anxiety. If you have any questions or comments, please leave them on the YouTube video page.