What is the theory behind this My Wave of Anxiety Worksheet?
The state of anxiety is characterised by marked physiological arousal and a sense of impending doom or apprehension for a real or imagined threat. It has long helped our ancestors prepare for threats in hostile environments as it does today. But any form of anxiety that becomes too persistent and debilitating is a cause of huge concern that must be addressed.
This worksheet is based on the idea that anxiety comes in waves, thus an awareness of its highs and lows and the correct time to deploy coping strategies can greatly help an individual return to a relaxed state after a bout of anxiety.
How will the worksheet help?
The worksheet will help individuals understand how the concept of a wave relates to their anxiety or panic attacks and how they can use that knowledge to deploy effective coping strategies at the correct time to minimise the ill effects of their condition.
How to use the worksheet?
This worksheet can be used as a self-help coping tool by clients who suffer from mild to moderate forms of anxiety and panic attacks. Discuss the content of the worksheet specially the idea of a wave with respect to anxiety. Ask clients to answer the questions and practice when they can.
My Wave of Anxiety Worksheet
How is a wave related to my anxiety?
Imagine your anxiety like a wave. When it comes it cannot be avoided nor controlled. The only way through it is to ride it out. Let it take you to its peak before it gradually subsides and disperses. Waves are continuous and ever flowing. Some are big and some are small. Whenever you feel anxiety or a panic attack coming through, your job is to ride the way and not let it intimidate or paralyse you
There are three stages to an anxiety wave:
- Ramp up: The stage where a stressor has triggered the anxiety and it has just begin to build up
- Peak: The peak is the crest of the wave, the highest point your anxiety can take you. This is when you are feeling the full force of all the associated negative physical, emotional and mental symptoms
- Fall off: The fall off always happens eventually. This is when the anxiety begins to lessen as you recover and return to a calm state.
How can you R.I.D.E this wave of anxiety?
R: Recognize the signs and accept the oncoming wave of anxiety Observe your physical symptoms without fear. For eg: shaking, increased heart rate, heavy breathing, sweating etc. Tell yourself it will be ok repeatedly to redirect the emerging unhelpful thinking patterns.
|My anxiety triggers/stressors||Physical symptoms of my anxiety|
I: Involve and immerse yourself in the environment around you. Try Grounding techniques to bring yourself to the present moment
D: Distract yourself once you are back in the present moment. This is the best time to deploy the coping strategies that you have learned to overcome your anxiety. Or you could just get involved in any activity that can take your mind off your anxiety till it enters the ‘fall-off’ stage.
|List down coping strategies and distraction activities that have help you in the past:|
E: End The wave will eventually end within a few minutes. Acknowledge your efforts. RIDE the wave and do not let it control you.
Walter, L. (2011) R..I.D.E the way of panic: Retrieved 20 November 2022 from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/life-without-anxiety/201110/ride-the-wave-panic
Emmert, D. (n.d.) Calming Anxiety, Living Mindfully: C.A.L.M. San Jose State University Counselling and Psychological Services.
You can download this worksheet here.