The purpose of this Anxious Thoughts Diary exercise is to capture anxious thoughts and notice how they affect our feelings.
We can then challenge our anxious thoughts and reframe them for a more positive outcome.
We are often unconscious of our thoughts, and we can all say some awful things to ourselves sometimes, things we would never say to someone else. These unhelpful anxious thoughts can keep us in a place where we often feel stuck and overwhelmed, and may stop us from doing things we want or need to do.
The more anxious thoughts that we have, the less confident we feel, and this has a negative impact on our self-esteem. We can then have even more negative thoughts and it becomes a vicious cycle.
These thoughts may seem believable at the time, however it is important to remember they are just thoughts; and thoughts are not facts.
It is helpful to set an alarm on your phone for 3 to 5 times a day, for example, 8am, 12pm, 4pm, 8pm. Every time the alarm goes off, make a note in the Situation box. Track who you are with when the thought occurs, what you are doing and where you are. After you have completed this exercise for a minimum of 3 weeks, you will start to see patterns which helps us identify potential triggers.
Notice how you are feeling right now: anxious, apprehensive, overwhelmed, scared, hungry, tired, relaxed, happy, excited etc. What is the intensity of your feeling out 10, with 1 being just a little and 10 being extreme?
Make a note of your thoughts in the Automatic Thoughts box.
Could it be possible that your thought is distorted?
When we are anxious, All or Nothing thinking (also known as Black and White thinking) may occur, so it is helpful to look for middle ground, or shades of grey too. We can also have a tendency to exaggerate or overgeneralise when we are feeling anxious, and jump to conclusions about something that hasn’t even happened yet.
What evidence do you have to support your thoughts? What evidence have you got against your thoughts?
Now that you have checked for distortions and looked for evidence, can you think differently about your thought?
Make a note of the revised thought and notice how your feeling has changed. It may be a different feeling altogether, or changed in intensity
This exercise helps you get to know your thoughts better, should you wish to work through any that are bothering you.
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If anxiety is something you or your loved ones struggle with regularly, then please get in touch to discuss how I can help you overcome the underlying cause of your anxiety. You can book a FREE 45 minute discovery call here