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Your Anxiety-Busting Toolkit

Updated: Dec 12, 2023

Anxiety is a tricky feeling that can be different for everyone, but here are some common things that might happen if you're feeling anxious:

  • Feeling nervous or like something bad is going to happen

  • Sweating, shaking, or having a fast heartbeat

  • Breathing really fast or feeling like you can't catch your breath

  • Feeling tense or like your muscles are tight

  • Having trouble concentrating or staying focused

  • Worrying a lot or having racing thoughts that won't go away

  • Trying to avoid things or people that make you feel anxious

  • Feeling irritable or restless

Anxiety can also cause physical symptoms like stomachaches. nausea, headaches, and being really tired.

It's important to get help for anxiety because it can make it hard to do everyday things and might lead to bigger mental health problems.

If you are really struggling, please seek help from a mental health professional; as sometimes medication and therapy will be needed before these techniques have an opportunity to be effective.

Managing anxiety can be a daunting task, but when approached from an Executive Functioning perspective, it becomes much more manageable.

Executive Functioning refers to a set of cognitive processes that allow individuals to plan, prioritize, initiate, and execute tasks efficiently.

By leveraging these skills, individuals can develop strategies to manage their anxiety effectively.

Anxiety can impact executive functioning, and by recognizing this, individuals can take steps to mitigate its effects.

In this article, we will explore various Executive Functioning strategies that can help manage anxiety, including self-reflection, goal-setting, and cognitive-behavioral techniques.

Self Reflection

A powerful tool for managing anxiety from an Executive Functioning perspective.

When you feel yourself becoming anxious, take a moment to reflect on your thoughts, emotions, and physical sensations.

This can help you identify the triggers that are causing your anxiety and allow you to take action to address them.

You can use the 5 4 3 2 1 coping technique for anxiety

  1. 5: Acknowledge FIVE things you see around you. ...

  2. 4: Acknowledge FOUR things you can touch around you. ...

  3. 3: Acknowledge THREE things you hear. ...

  4. 2: Acknowledge TWO things you can smell. ...

  5. 1: Acknowledge ONE thing you can taste.

Here are some other strategies for self-reflection during an anxiety attack:

  1. Pause and breathe: Take a moment to pause and take a few deep breaths. This can help you slow down and become more present in the moment.

  2. Identify your thoughts: Ask yourself what thoughts are going through your mind. Are they realistic or exaggerated? Are they based on facts or assumptions?

  3. Challenge your thoughts: Once you've identified your thoughts, try to challenge them. Ask yourself if they're really true or if there's another way to look at the situation.

  4. Label your emotions: Identify the emotions that you're feeling. Name them and try to observe them without judgment.

  5. Practice mindfulness: Bring your attention to the present moment and try to observe your thoughts and emotions without getting caught up in them.

  6. Write it down: Journaling can be a powerful tool for self-reflection. Write down your thoughts and emotions, and use this as an opportunity to process and reflect on them.


Identify a specific goal: Identify a goal that is achievable and relevant to your current situation. This can help give you a sense of control over the situation.

Break it down: Break the goal down into smaller, more manageable steps. This can help make the goal less overwhelming and more achievable.

Prioritize: Determine which steps are the most important and prioritize them. This can help you focus your energy on the most essential tasks.

Create a plan: Develop a plan for how you will accomplish each step of the goal. This can help you stay organized and focused.

Celebrate progress: Celebrate each step that you accomplish towards your goal. This can help boost your confidence and motivation. (Remember: Slow progress is still progress)

Reassess: Regularly reassess your progress towards your goal and adjust your plan as needed. This can help you stay on track and continue moving forward. (I love helping my clients reassess their goals and the tasks needed to reach their goals, you can find out more here)

Remember to be kind to yourself: Recognize that setbacks and challenges are a normal part of the goal-setting process. Be kind to yourself and acknowledge your accomplishments along the way.

Cognitive-Behavioral Techniques

This can be simplified into modifying your perspective and/or mindset. Some examples of this are as follows:

  1. Identify and challenge negative thoughts: Anxiety can be fueled by negative thoughts that are often unrealistic or irrational. Identify these thoughts and challenge them by asking yourself if they are true and if there is evidence to support them.

  2. Practice positive self-talk: Replace negative thoughts with positive affirmations. For example, instead of saying "I can't do this," say "I can handle this, one step at a time."

  3. Reframe your thoughts: Reframe negative thoughts into more realistic and positive ones. For example, instead of "I'm going to fail," reframe it to "I may make mistakes, but that doesn't mean I'm a failure."

  4. Exposure therapy: Gradual exposure to the things that make you anxious can help you build up a tolerance to them. Start with small steps and work your way up.

  5. Relaxation techniques: Practice relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, or visualization to help calm your body and mind.

  6. Use distraction techniques: Distract yourself from your anxiety by engaging in activities you enjoy, such as reading, listening to music, talking with friends about other things, or exercising.

  7. Mindfulness: Practice mindfulness by focusing on the present moment and observing your thoughts and emotions without judgment.

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