Automatic thinking involves cognitive distortions, exaggeration, overestimating, catastrophizing, perfectionism, control, and over-using emotions. And maladaptive thoughts, like expecting disaster, giving up, or asking “why”.
The first step to overcoming anxiety, panic, and phobias is to understand the foundation of anxiety and then to begin to listen to the automatic thinking. Challenging the automatic thoughts is hard work. Simple work, but hard work nonetheless.
By using a workbook or worksheets to help clients begin to track their automatic thinking we can team up to overcome the anxiety. Education about the physiology of panic, cognitive association to the physiology, and the emotions connected to those cognitive beliefs is where we focus all the hard work on defeating the worry and panic.
When worry has become chronic we may not even be able to name our fears. Anxiety becomes the norm and we’re just trying to stave off the next panic attack. But challenging the meaning of the physical symptoms, and the emotional connection we create to them is essential for mental healthiness.
Panic, anxiety, and phobias can become a thing of the past as long as we are willing to put in the hard work!