Tools for Anxiety: Know your Body, Emotions, and Thoughts

Tools for Anxiety: Know your Body, Emotions, and Thoughts

Orlando Counselor Providing Anxiety Therapy

Feeling anxious, tense and uneasy and can’t seem to settle yourself? Are you tired of feeling all revved and jazzed up? Anxiety is vicious cycle of worry, dread, uncomfortable physical sensations, and difficult feelings of fear and worry.

As an anxiety and trauma therapist in Orlando, I help clients soothe and calm their anxiety so they can feel settled in their body again.

This blog series on tools for anxiety starts with first understanding the lay of the land when it comes to how you experience anxiety. How does anxiety impact the trifecta of your thoughts, emotions, and your body? After you know how anxiety symptoms impact you, you can start to create a personalized toolbox for coping with anxiety.

At the end of this blog post, I will walk you through a practice to help you get to know how anxiety impacts your thoughts, emotions, and body sensations. In my next blog post, we will start to create a personalized toolkit for coping with anxiety.

First let’s start by exploring what happens in your body at the onset of becoming anxious. Below is a list of common signs that the body is starting to get revved. This is not an exhaustive list, so you will need to explore your own personal telltale signs that you’re starting to get anxious. These body symptoms often take place outside of conscious awareness, so you need to slow yourself down so that you can really “see” what is happening in your body. When you catch these body signs early, you can begin to make changes in your body so that you can naturally calm yourself before you have an anxiety episode.

Anxious Body Signs

muscle tension
jaw tension
clinching in the belly
tightness in chest
pulling shoulders up to the ears
breath holding
shallow breathing
heart pounding
racing heart
dry mouth
restless legs
trembling
light headedness
tingling arms, hands, legs and/or feet
leaning forward in your body
feeling frozen or like a deer in headlights

Next let’s explore what happens for you emotionally when you start to feel anxious. The obvious feelings are fear and worry, but some people get angry. Explore how you respond emotionally when you are feeling anxious.

Anxious Emotions

fear
worry
dread
irritability
anger
agitation
reactive
impatient
edgy
uneasy

Next, let’s explore the quality of your thoughts when you are feeling anxious. Often there is a worrisome focus on the future or sense of impending doom. Take some time so that you can get to know how your thought process changes while feeling anxious.

Anxious Thought Patterns

black and white thinking
catastrophizing
judgement
criticism
difficulty thinking clearly
rapid thoughts
rapid speech
negative assumptions about the intentions of others

Practice

Think back through the last week and find a moment in time that was somewhat anxiety provoking. On a scale of 0-10 in severity level, where 10 is the most anxiety provoking, pick a moment that was a 3 or 4. I want you to have enough activation to explore how your trifecta responds, but not be so triggered that you can’t complete this experiment.

As you think about it, notice what happens in your body right now. Use the list above and notice any subtle changes to your physical landscape. Allow yourself to tune into your body’s reaction.

Next notice the emotions you feel. Check back to the list above and see if you notice any feelings on the list.

After that, notice the quality of your thoughts as it pertains to this event. Look through the list and see if any of the thought patterns resonate with how you are thinking.

As an anxiety therapist, one of the first steps I do with my clients is to help them understand their own personal response to anxiety. Knowing how your thoughts, emotions, and body sensations respond while feeling anxious helps you differentiate between being triggered and being under a real threat. Being able to identify anxious thoughts, emotions, and body sensations helps to reduce anxiety.

Stay tuned, in the next blog post, we will explore somatic tools for coping with anxiety, where I will teach you ways to develop your own personalized toolbox for coping with anxiety.

For More on Anxiety, Check These Out:

Anxiety Much? Mindfulness to the Rescue

Discerning the Difference between Danger and Discomfort [a tool to calm anxiety]

Anxiety? Use this Quick Tool to Tame the Runaway Train


Lauran is an anxiety and trauma therapist providing counseling in Orlando, FL. She also specializes in helping people heal old broken relationship patterns that keep them from finding, creating, and keeping healthy relationships with partners, friends, and family. Lauran uses a down to earth approach infused with cutting-edge therapies that go beyond traditional talking to help clients feel calm in their body and mind and find peace within themselves.