Universal Tools

An effective way to learn to deal with anxiety and related problems is to have tools that can be used to reduce worrying and increase your quality of life. The tools outlined in this section are intended to increase your ability to tolerate anxiety, rather than to eliminate anxiety.  Anxiety exists everywhere, and therefore it is an illusion to believe we can eliminate the source and experience of anxiety, and its related problems. Instead, it is far more effective to have tools to tolerate and cope, rather than to control and escape. 



The universal tools outlined below fall in to one of four categories:

  • Educational, or foundational - Broad information that applies to all individuals with anxiety and related problems
  • Physiological, or feeling - Tools designed to increase relaxation and reduce or eliminate unwanted physiological arousal or anxiety
  • Cognitive, or thinking - Tools designed to promote helpful thinking and increase confidence
  • Behavioural, or doing - Tools designed to eliminate escape or avoidance behaviours, and to help you improve you daily life functioning

The following tools are listed in a recommended order, yet proceeding in this order will depend on your needs and learning style. While we encourage that you choose tools from all four categories, where you start is up to you. For those individuals who consider themselves “thinkers,” tools like Helpful Thinking or Challenging Negative Thinking, may be of greater interest. However, others who are more action oriented, may do better with tools that focus on what to do, such as Calm Breathing, Goal Setting, or Facing My Fears. Consider briefly reviewing all the tools first, and then go back slowly and in more detail, beginning with the category you think best meets your needs and style. Alternatively, start with the foundational tools and proceed in order, going next to the feeling, then thinking, and finally, doing tools.  


Physiological or Feeling:



A Note: Not all individuals proceed at the same pace, in the same order, nor will they always want to use each tool to its fullest. We recommend you give each tool a fair try, but then select those tools from the list that most appeal to you. Once you have done that, proceed in an order and at a pace that suits you. For more information about pacing, please see our Session-to-Session Example.

 Carry on to Optional Tools