Teaching mental health tools at Refresh Recovery is part of our unique long-term and real-life transition focus. Some of our anxiety treatment tools for anxiety disorders include learning about anxiety, relaxation methods, mindfulness, appropriate breathing techniques, cognitive and behavior therapies, counseling, dietary and exercise suggestions, assertiveness, structured problem-solving, and medication treatment.
Learning about Anxiety
Education is a meaningful way to promote control over symptoms. Education about anxiety includes examining the physiology of the ‘flight-or-fight’ response, which is how the body deals with impending danger. This response is inappropriately triggered by generally harmless situations for people with anxiety disorders.
When anxious, a person can spend much time catching up on anxiety-provoking thoughts. Mindfulness guides you to bring attention to the present moment and unhook from unwanted thoughts.
The physical symptoms of anxiety may be triggered by hyperventilation, which raises oxygen levels and reduces the amount of carbon dioxide in the blood. Carbon dioxide assists in the regulation of the body’s reaction to anxiety and panic.
Learning to breathe from their diaphragm rather than their chest is reasonable to safeguard against hyperventilation. The key is allowing your belly to expand as you live.
Cognitive Behavioral therapy
Cognitive-behavioral therapy focuses on changing patterns of thinking and beliefs that foster and are linked to anxiety. For example, a person with a social phobia may worsen their anxiety with negative thoughts such as, ‘Everyone thinks I’m problematic.’
The basis of cognitive therapy is that beliefs trigger thoughts, which then trigger feelings and produce behaviors. For example, let us say you believe that you must smile at everyone to feel worthwhile. If someone does not greet you back, you may think, ‘This person hates me,’ making you anxious.
Cognitive therapy strategies include rational ‘self-talk,’ reality testing, attention training, cognitive challenging, and cognitive restructuring. This includes monitoring your self-talk, challenging unhelpful fears and beliefs, and testing out the reality of dark thoughts.
Behavior and exposure therapy
A significant component of behavior therapy is exposure. Exposure therapy involves deliberately confronting your fears to desensitize yourself. Exposure therapy allows you to train yourself to redefine the danger or fear of the situation or trigger.
The steps of exposure therapy may include the following:
- Think about the feared situation. Imagine yourself experiencing the problem. Analyze your fears. Rank your concerns in order, from most to least threatening.
- Work out a plan that includes several small steps – for example, gradually decrease the distance between yourself and the object of your fear or progressively increase the amount of time spent in the feared situation.
- Stay despite the fear. Use relaxation, breathing techniques, and coping statements to help manage your anxiety.
- Note that nothing terrible happened.
- Repeat the exposure as often as possible to build confidence to cope.
Even though nutrition is not currently part of our program at Refresh Recovery, we suggest keeping specific macronutrient needs met and a general understanding of essential stimuli and physiological needs such as sleep and exercise.
Nicotine, caffeine, and stimulant drugs (such as those that contain caffeine) trigger your adrenal glands to release adrenaline, one of the main stress chemicals.
The physical symptoms of anxiety are caused by the ‘flight-or-fight’ response, which floods the body with adrenaline and other stress chemicals. Exercise burns up stress chemicals and promotes relaxation. At Refresh Recovery, we encouraged an environment and suggested activities conducive to a physiological re-education and behaviors supportive of our treatment.
Learning to behave assertively is central to developing stronger self-esteem, and being assertive means communicating your needs, feelings, beliefs, and opinions to others directly and honestly. A person with an anxiety disorder may have trouble being powerful because they are afraid of conflict or believe they have no right to speak up. However, relating passively to others lowers self-confidence and reinforces anxiety. At Refresh Recovery, we emphasize embracing healthy and realistic self-esteem through supportive group exercises and a personal understanding by our therapists.
Structured Problem Solving
Some people with anxiety disorders are worriers who fret about problems rather than solve them. This is a valuable skill that can help manage generalized anxiety. At Refresh Recovery, we will help you break down a problem into various components and then decide on a course of action.
Other anxiety disorders, depression, or substance abuse often accompany GAD, which rarely occurs alone; co-occurring conditions must also be treated with appropriate therapies and, at times, with medication-assisted treatment. Our clinicians at Refresh Recovery will have the proper intake and support to attend to our clients suffering from anxiety and substance use disorders.