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Self CBT for Anxiety: Learn to Do CBT on Yourself

Of all the therapies out there for calming anxiety, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, or CBT, may be one of the best. What started as a way to manage depression symptoms is now a proven effective way to overcome anxiety disorders.

CBT for Anxiety

CBT focuses on changing the way a person thinks about and reacts to their anxiety. CBT is a highly effective and evidence-based treatment for anxiety that can help individuals develop new ways of thinking and reacting to their anxiety.

Why is CBT effective for anxiety?

What the heck makes CBT so much useful?

The answer lies in your thoughts.

CBT is effective for treating anxiety disorders because it empowers you to practice positive, realistic thinking.

Read more here on → Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: CBT Techniques for Anxiety & Depression

Can you do CBT yourself for anxiety?

Yes, you can use CBT for anxiety on yourself, on your own. Regardless of the circumstances, you can guide your thoughts toward calmer, more realistic thought patterns. You're looking to challenge negative thoughts and feelings that aren't necessarily based on reality.

For example, if a friend doesn't call you for a few days or cancels a dinner date, your thoughts may begin to stray into negative territory.

"I guess Kate doesn't like me anymore."


"Maybe, I did something to offend Jessie."

These thoughts should be challenged because they aren't necessarily based on reality. Instead, they're based on your negative perception of the situation.

Maybe your friends didn't call or canceled plans because of a family emergency or a sudden and demanding work schedule. Perfectly logical explanations that have nothing to do with you.

Remember, CBT is all about the power to change negative thoughts into positive ones. Like this...

Unrealistic Negative Thoughts:

I feel like such a loser. I'm always screwing things up. What's wrong with me?

I can’t go to the party. I’m way too anxious.

More Realistic/Balanced Thoughts:

Everyone makes mistakes, including me. I only need to do my best to fix the situation and try to do better next time around.

It's perfectly normal to feel anxious. I can still go to the party even though I'm anxious.

How to do CBT on yourself for anxiety: Self-help CBT

If you suffer from social anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), or any other type of anxiety disorder you can do these exercises to eliminate your fear.

1. Start by Identifying Current Troubles or Obstacles

What's stressing you out? What's causing unhappiness and restlessness in your life? Maybe you have a fear of failure syndrome concerning a particular project.

Is social anxiety making you doubt yourself and your place in this world? Once you pinpoint your anxiety trigger, you can begin working to overcome it.

2. Record Thought Patterns

Now that you've identified your anxiety trigger write down any recurring negative thoughts.

Also known as negative self-talk, these thoughts can eat away at your self-esteem and make you mistrust yourself, those around you, and life in general.

The good thing about CBT is that once you pinpoint triggers and identify patterns, you can then begin to shift perspective and see life and situations differently.

Remember that these negative feelings are fluid and can change. Just because you're anxious about something now doesn't mean that feeling will last forever. But to change your negative beliefs, you must first...

3. Challenge Negative Thinking and Unrealistic Expectations

If you're anxious about something, it’s probably because you're afraid of what will happen in the future. Here are a few fearful thoughts that often run through the mind of an anxiety sufferer:

“I’ll do something to humiliate myself at the meeting tomorrow.”

“People will think I’m a complete moron.”

“I wouldn't fit in with anyone at the party. They'll think that I'm boring.”

Now, use this 2-step, thought-swapping technique to put negative beliefs in their place.

Step 3A

Identify the automatic negative thought. This is the first thought that pops into your mind when you think of that anxiety trigger.

Here's a thought I've had more than once: "I just know I'll do something to mess up our date and make a total fool of myself. He'll never call me again."

Well, that's a depressing thought!

Step 3B

Analyze, challenge, and repel that negative thought with logical positivity.

Swap that negative thought with: "This anxious thought isn't helping me. How do I know I'm going to mess up the date anyway?"

Or maybe.

"Of course I'm anxious. I haven't been on a date in a while. I'll just do some deep breathing, meditation, and other stress-busting techniques to calm myself down."

See how that works? Now it's your turn.

Got a few negative thoughts about an upcoming event or situation? Do a little thought-swapping.

It may take some practice before you start to believe the positive, realistic thoughts.

After all, those negative thoughts/beliefs are deeply ingrained in your brain and have been for a while.

Don't give up.

Keep chipping away.

When practicing CBT for anxiety relief, or heck for anything really, be patient with yourself. Give yourself credit for having the courage to face your problems. Forgive yourself for any setbacks you may have and recognize that this is part of life.

I highly recommend you use relaxation techniques with these exercises. These techniques will further help you better manage your anxiety symptoms. Some of the relaxation techniques used in CBT for anxiety are – Deep BreathingProgressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR)Mindfulness Meditation, Yoga, etc.

Regularly practicing CBT will, over time, keep your mind calm, make you feel empowered, reduce anxiety, and frustrations, and lessen your fears.


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