Thinking Right Tools
So how will all this “thinking stuff” help my anxiety?
So just to recap, we know that anxious thinking is often extreme, unbalanced, and overly negative. But it can feel true, especially if it feels very familiar to you. This is because you have told it to yourself thousands of times.
On the left are some tools that, if used regularly and consistently, can really help you deal with your anxious self-talk. Here are two options:
- Let your anxious thoughts come and go.
- Challenge your thoughts and come up with more helpful self-talk.
The one thing that doesn’t work very well is just constantly ignoring or pushing down your anxious thoughts. Sure, you can postpone them for a bit, and sometimes this is helpful. But the thoughts tend to sneak back and are usually even more persistent.
Step 1: Pay Attention
No matter what, the first step is to start to pay attention to what you are saying to yourself. This can be difficult because thoughts can be so fleeting and automatic (“automatic thoughts”). Lots of teens find it helpful to practice noticing and then writing down their thoughts in a Worry Diary.
Worry Diary exercise: For two weeks, write down your worries as they pop up. By writing them down, you don’t have to “keep track” of your worries in your head anymore. You might find that a lot of worries don’t seem so powerful a few hours later, and especially after a good night’s sleep.
Step 2: Choose a Tool
On the left are four tools to help you feel less anxious. Try each of them consistently for at least two weeks and see which is the most helpful for you. You will likely want to use more than one tool. A good place to start is with the first tool and go from there!