My Anxiety Plan for Generalized Anxiety Disorder
The following strategies are designed for you to use as you begin to tackle Generalized Anxiety Disorder. These strategies are best used for adults with mild-moderate signs of this type of anxiety. For individuals with more severe symptoms or who have been diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder, we recommend treatment with a mental health professional, although MAP strategies can be used at home to support your therapy work.
Step 1. Helping you become an expert on anxiety
This is an important first step, as the information outlined in this step can help you understand what is happening when you experience anxiety. Learning that the worries and physical feelings you are experiencing have a name -anxiety- and that millions of other people also have anxiety, can be a great relief. To become an expert on anxiety you will want to read about the facts and learn important information. The following links can provide you with facts and information: ABC's of Anxiety: Understanding How Anxiety Works & Anxiety 101: What You Need to Know About Anxiety & Anxiety 102: More Facts & Fight-Flight-Freeze & When Anxiety Becomes a Problem: What’s Normal and What's Not
Step 2: Learning the facts about Generalized Anxiety Disorder
Reading about the information outlined on the generalized anxiety disorder main page can help you feel less afraid of what is happening to you. After all, knowledge is power.
The following list includes some facts and highlights common to individuals with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD):
- People with GAD worry excessively and uncontrollably about daily life events and activities. While they worry about the same things that others worry about, they worry more and more often than other people. They may self identify as “worry warts,” “old souls,” and other terms to highlight their constant worrying.
- People with GAD often experience uncomfortable physical symptoms, including fatigue and sore muscles, and they can also have trouble sleeping and concentrating.
- Many GAD worries begin with the words, “What if…” allowing the individual to create worry scenarios out of almost anything.
- Like all anxiety and related disorders, adults with GAD get anxious when faced with a trigger for their worries. But unlike other disorders where the trigger may be obvious, such as dogs in a dog phobia, germs in OCD, or public speaking in social anxiety, the trigger in GAD is somewhat less obvious. Adults with GAD get anxious whenever there is uncertainty in a situation or if they are not 100% sure about something. And since almost everything in life is uncertain, there is always something to worry about. This is why, if you have GAD, you may notice you worry about almost anything.
Step 3: Creating your Generalized Anxiety Disorder MAP
The best way to help deal with generalized anxiety disorder, is to have access to tools that can evaluate and challenge your worries and change your problem behaviours. These tools 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. It is far more effective to have tools to tolerate and cope, rather than to control and escape. For Generalized Anxiety Disorder, you might want to use any or all of the following tools to create your MAP: My Anxiety Plan. These tools are listed in a recommended order, although proceeding in this order will depend on your needs and interests. There are many effective tools in this section from which you can chose that will provide you with much needed relief from your worry.
- Calm Breathing
- Progressive Muscle Relaxation
- Recording and Classifying My Worries
- Helpful Thinking
- Challenging Negative Thinking
- Cognitive Coping Cards
- Problem Solving
- Rethinking the Usefulness of Worry
- Facing Your Fears: Exposure
- Reassurance Seeking
- Overcoming Perfectionism
- Partner Assisted Rituals
- Rewarding Bravery
- Getting a Goodnight’s Sleep
- Tolerating Uncertainty
- Worry Scripts
- Relapse Prevention
Final point: Although increased knowledge and the many tools available on this website can be very effective in helping you to manage your generalized anxiety disorder, sometimes it is not enough. Some adults have very severe anxiety, and despite all their best efforts, they might still be struggling daily with anxiety symptoms. If this is the case for you, we recommend you seek professional help through a consultation session with your family doctor, psychiatrist, or a psychologist/mental health worker.