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Navigating Anxiety With Dialectical Behavioral Therapy

Anxiety is a prevalent experience for many, but it doesn't have to hold sway over our lives. In fact, certain levels of anxiety can even fuel productivity! If you've been wrestling with anxiety lately, know that you're not alone. Studies show that 1 in 5 Canadians will grapple with a mental health condition, including anxiety, at some point in their lives (Smetanin et al., 2011).

Uncertainty often exacerbates anxiety, particularly for those who thrive on structured plans. The unknown can be unsettling, serving as a cornerstone for anxiety. Fortunately, there are tools rooted in Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) that can aid in navigating anxiety, encapsulated in the acronym T.I.P.P.

Temperature Regulation

Anxiety often coincides with a rise in body temperature. Our bodies may overheat in response to situations evoking helplessness and uncertainty.

A simple remedy involves using an ice pack and applying it to your face for approximately 30 seconds. Alternatively, running cold water over your hands can achieve similar results, regulating your body temperature and restoring it to optimal levels.

Intense Exercise

Exercise need not be strenuous to be effective. Engaging in physical activity helps reduce anxiety by releasing pent-up negative emotions.

Try a wall squat, plank, or sit-up, aiming to maintain the position for 30 to 60 seconds. Exercise triggers the release of endorphins, also known as "happy chemicals," equipping your body to combat feelings of anxiety, sadness, and anger.

Paced Breathing

Paced breathing is a potent tool against anxiety, often overlooked. During anxiety episodes, our body's fight or flight response activates, leading to hyperactivity in the parasympathetic nervous system and changes in body temperature, heart rate, and breathing patterns.

Practice slow breathing: inhale through your nose, hold for as long as comfortable, then exhale slowly through your mouth. Placing a hand on your stomach and focusing on its movements during inhalation and exhalation can enhance the experience. Aim for 5 to 10 repetitions.

Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR)

When anxiety peaks, you may notice your body tensing up. Somatic concerns like bodily tension are intertwined with psychological well-being.

Alongside paced breathing, try relaxing your muscle groups. Tense and subsequently relax each muscle group once. Focus on your breath, noting the tension during muscle tensing and the relief upon relaxation.

While the T.I.P.P technique may not yield immediate results, consistent practice can foster enhanced coping mechanisms against anxiety. It's important to note that while these techniques can help mitigate anxiety's effects, they don't replace psychotherapy.

For personalized guidance and support in managing anxiety, consider seeking therapy at Aligned Minds Counseling and Therapy. Our experienced therapists can provide tailored strategies and compassionate support to help you navigate anxiety and regain control over your life. Take the first step towards healing today.

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