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  • Writer's pictureJaclyn Hall

5 Tips to Transform Your Unhealthy Anxiety into Emotional Wellness

“Convince yourself that worrying about many situations will make them worse rather than improve them.” – Albert Ellis

At Keys to Counseling in Tampa, FL, I specialize in a specific type of therapy called Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT). Established by Dr. Albert Ellis in 1955, REBT is an active, directive, solution-focused, and goal-oriented approach to counseling and it is recognized as the pioneering form of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).

REBT categorizes anxiety as an unhealthy negative emotion, which means it is self-defeating, unproductive, and unhelpful in assisting you with living a reasonably enjoyable life. In order to silence the catastrophic cries within your fearful mind, and ultimately move forward within your life by taking control of your anxiety, it is most beneficial to:

Get Comfortable Being Uncomfortable!

In other words, in order to effectively alleviate your anxiety, it is tremendously helpful to consider how your cognitive patterns contribute to your unhealthy negative emotions, which will result in you actively thinking, talking about, and addressing the events, thoughts, and behaviors related to your anxiety. Once you are (more) comfortable with being uncomfortable, your tolerance for discomfort will immensely increase, and your boundaries for what makes you uncomfortable will shift in your favor! 

Furthermore, when you are comfortable with the uncomfortable, the uncomfortable becomes comfortable, and what once caused you anxiety will no longer have the same emotional and physical hold on you, because you will have learned to sit with your discomfort and your anxiety. By accepting your anxiety, you will have effectively learned how to alleviate it, as well as how to combat it! 

According to REBT, this process begins with identifying and disputing your irrational beliefs: the stubbornly learned way you think about things! Therefore, in order to help you become more comfortable with that which makes you uncomfortable, use these REBT techniques to facilitate you with transforming your fears into a more rational, mindful, and happier life! 

5 Strategies to Change the Way You Think About Your Anxiety

1. Build Up Your Frustration Tolerance. Help yourself to more effectively tolerate frustration, as well as physical and emotional discomfort pertaining to your anxiety. Remind yourself that you can stand feeling unpleasant, uncomfortable, and frustrated, even though you do not enjoy it.

2. Develop Unconditional Acceptance. Accept all parts of yourself, of others, and of life as it is: the good, the bad, and everything in between. Unlike self-esteem which is conditional, unconditional self, other, and life-acceptance reminds you that all of us are fallible human beings, and by nature, all of us will make mistakes from time-to-time, as well as endure challenges throughout our lifetime, and we can accept this reality and still find enjoyment in life, our relationships, and ourselves. 

3. Surrender Your Demands. Distinguish your absolute needs from your preferential desires. While it is healthy to strive for success, and set realistic goals, it is maladaptive and counterproductive to demand that your preferences must/should/ought to/have to/need to be met. Demands lead to unhealthy negative emotions, such as anxiety. 

4. Assess Your Inclination to Awfulize or Catastrophize. Ask yourself if you are exaggerating the likelihood that whatever you fear will happen, will actually happen? Also, ask yourself if whatever you fear will happen actually happens, are you exaggerating how awful or catastrophic it will actually be? In many instances of anxiety, the answer to both of these questions is a resounding “yes”. That being said, in your most challenging circumstances where the answer to the above questions is actually “no”, you can compassionately ask yourself: how is thinking about the situation in this way helping me to not feel anxious? If the answer to this question is “it is not helping me”, you can ultimately make the decision to think about that which is truly awful in a different way, simply because the current way you are thinking about your unfortunate circumstances is likely making you feel even worse than the situation itself. 

5. Identify, Dispute, & Replace Your Irrational Beliefs. When you begin to feel yourself becoming anxious, take notice of your thoughts. What are you telling yourself in that moment to result in anxiety? How can you change the way you are thinking (the internal narrative you are telling yourself) to transform your unhealthy anxiety into more effective healthy negative emotions, such as concern, vigilance, or caution? 

REBT is active, directive, and empathetically assertive in its approach to combatting unhealthy negative emotions, and alleviating anxiety, which is the root of fear, phobias, and panic. The faster you discover how to calm and transform the anxiety-provoking irrational beliefs within your own mind into healthier rational alternatives, the sooner you can return to enjoying the world that exists outside of you and your anxious thoughts. REBT has profoundly changed my life for the better, regarding my own anxiety, and if you give it a try, it can change your life too!

At Keys to Counseling in Tampa, Florida, my mission is to promote healthy living through rational thinking! I provide both individual and couples counseling, and I would be honored to cognitively, emotively, and behaviorally accompany you on your journey to living, loving, being, and staying better! 


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