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My Anxiety Plan (MAP) for Adults
What is My Anxiety Plan (MAP)?
My Anxiety Plan (MAP) is an anxiety management program based on cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT). CBT is an evidence-based psychological treatment that was developed through decades of scientific research and has been shown to be one of the most effective treatments for anxiety problems. MAP is designed to provide adults struggling with anxiety with practical strategies and tools to manage anxiety. MAP includes 6 easy to navigate units with 45 lessons.
- Unit 1: Starting the Journey: Understanding Anxiety. The lessons in this unit highlight key information and facts about anxiety, so that you can become an anxiety expert. The lessons will also help you take some initial steps to getting ready to tackle anxiety.
- Unit 2: Calming Strategies: Learning to Chill. In Unit 2, lessons focus on learning relaxation and mindfulness strategies to help you tolerate and “ride out” the physical sensations of anxiety.
- Unit 3: Helpful Thinking: Talking Back to Anxiety. Learning to be a balanced thinker is a core strategy for coping with anxiety. In this unit, you will learn how to catch, evaluate, and change anxious thinking.
- Unit 4: Facing Fears: Exposure. Unit 4 outlines one of the most powerful tools for managing anxiety. You will learn how to overcome your fears by gradually facing them one step at a time.
- Unit 5: Continuing the Journey: Staying on Track. Help prepare yourself for the future with strategies aimed at supporting your gains and keeping anxiety in check. Unit 5 highlights the importance of maintaining your foundational skills by developing a plan to prevent anxiety from making a come back.
- Unit 6: Special Topics. You may have some specific fears or be faced with situations that are challenging in unique ways that require specialized tools. In this final unit, get additional information and strategies to tackle other problem areas that you may need help with.
Who is this Program for?
The MAP program was created for adults with mild to moderate anxiety problems. It was designed as a self-help program that an individual could work through on their own. However, it can also be used while working with a mental health provider who can guide you through it. Working with a therapist can be particularly helpful if you are experiencing more severe symptoms or have been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. If you are unsure if this program is right for you, or whether you need some additional support, talk to your family doctor and consider a referral to a mental health provider for an assessment and to learn what treatment is best for you.
How Should I Work Through this Program?
As this is a journey and not a race, we encourage you to work at your own pace through the units and lessons. You may choose to go through all 6 units, lesson by lesson, over the course of weeks or months. Alternatively, you may prefer to skip around the various units, focusing only on relevant lessons, knowing you can return at a later date and work through the rest. This content can be reviewed and learned via computer screen, and worksheets and forms can be filled out and printed. Finally, you can decide whether you wish to set aside specific time on a weekly basis to review the lessons, or whether you prefer to do this work when the timing feels right even if this is at less regular times or intervals. The point is there is no “right” way to use this material. While we do recommend proceeding through the units and lessons in the specified order, do what works best for you in terms of learning.
When Should I Seek Professional Help?
Working through this material can be challenging, especially if you are struggling with more moderate to severe anxiety issues. If you have been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder the material in this program may not be sufficient to manage your symptoms. If you’re struggling to use the strategies or your symptoms persist or worsen despite working through the program, seek professional help. Talk to your family doctor and find a therapist who specializes in CBT.
You begin by clicking SIGN UP (top right hand corner) and set up a free account. After you’ve set up your account, click on the Anxiety Canada logo on the top left corner of your page which will take you to the MAPs Preview page where you can choose the program you want: MAP for Children or MAP for Adults. On the MAP for Children or MAP for Adults pages, please click on START PLAN to get started.
We ask you to set up an account so you can work through the program at your own pace and your progress is automatically saved.
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After registration and anytime you need to return to the beginning of the course, please click on our logo at top left.
Starting the Journey: Understanding Anxiety
If you’re struggling with anxiety, arm yourself with key facts and information about anxiety. A better understanding of anxiety will help you develop a plan of action to help you tackle anxiety.
When we’re anxious, we feel it in our bodies and it affects what we think and do. Learning to recognize anxiety is an important first step in being able to manage it.
Although anxiety can keep us safe when there is actual danger, anxiety becomes a problem when it happens a lot, feels intense, causes distress, and gets in the way of living life.
There are different types of anxiety and anxiety-related problems. Having a better sense of the type of anxiety problem you might be experiencing can help you better manage it.
There are a number of things you can do to set the stage for managing your anxiety. Giving anxiety a name and identity, developing a support team, and creating a healthy foundation will help you start to fight back.
Although you are at the start of the MAP program, you may have already hit a roadblock. This lesson is designed to provide you with some effective and creative ideas to better engage in the MAP program in order to start bossing back to anxiety.
Calming Strategies: Learning to Chill
Unfortunately, there is nothing you can do that will instantly get rid of all of your anxiety. But, there are some powerful tools you can use to significantly “dial down the volume” of your anxiety.
When you’re anxious, your body prepares you to deal with danger by revving up the body. Relaxation exercises help you relax your body, which helps reduce the unwanted physical sensations of anxiety and makes it easier to “ride out” anxiety.
Mindfulness involves learning to pay attention to what’s going on in a different way: focusing on the present moment with purpose and without judgment, which can help you get out unstuck from worries about the future.
Self-soothing strategies are designed to help you temporarily soothe or reduce intense or difficult emotions, like anxiety.
The following ideas can help you embrace and use mindfulness and relaxation as part of your MAP.
Helpful Thinking: Talking Back to Anxiety
Anxious individuals spend a lot of time thinking about all the terrible things that could happen. But our thoughts are not facts, so we don’t have to believe everything we think. Becoming a more balanced thinker is an important step in managing anxiety.
The first step to being a more balanced thinker is catching your anxious thoughts. If you don’t know what you’re thinking, you can’t change what you think.
Until now, you may have believed most of your anxious thoughts or worries. At this point, it’s time to start challenging these thoughts rather than accepting them as facts.
The final step in becoming a more balanced thinker involves learning to “talk back” to anxiety by replacing anxious thoughts with more realistic, helpful statements.
This lesson provides some additional tools for challenging and evaluating anxious thoughts and worries for individuals experiencing specific types of anxiety problems.
Learning to catch, evaluate, and change one’s thinking style is a key strategy in your MAP. Here are some additional tips for helping you develop a more balanced and helpful thinking style.
Facing Fears: Exposure
One of the most powerful tools for helping you reduce unwanted anxiety is to learn how to gradually face your fears. The process of facing fears is called exposure. Exposure involves slowly and repeatedly facing what you’re afraid of until you feel less anxious.
Exposure involves identifying specific fears, coming up with a list of exposure tasks (or actions one can take to face fears), and building a fear ladder (which is a list of exposure tasks ranked from least to most scary).
Get ready to face your fears head on by building your own fear ladder using these three key steps: 1) identify your specific fear(s) and goal(s); 2) make a list of exposure tasks; and 3) build a fear ladder(s) by ranking exposure tasks from least to most scary.
Exposure is a powerful tool for reducing anxiety, but it’s also one of the most challenging. That’s why it’s important to take the time to set it up properly. Before you start completing exposure practices there are some important things to consider.
Facing fears can be challenging. It can be helpful to identify some rewards to help motivate you.
Now that you have a fear ladder(s) and have taken the necessary steps to prepare for doing exposure, you’re now ready to start climbing your ladder, step by step, all the way to the top.
Some types of anxiety themes or problems require some unique exposures. If you’re struggling with obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic disorder, or post traumatic stress disorder, get some additional information and tips for doing exposures.
As you continue to do exposure work, you might become more aware of the ways that your family and friends may accommodate your anxiety. Together you can plan to gradually roll back those accommodations.
Individuals struggling with anxiety tend to seek a lot of reassurance. They also tend to be more fearful or intolerant of new and uncertain situations. Use exposure strategies to help you tackle excessive reassurance seeking and become more tolerant of the uncertainties in life.
Doing exposure on your own can be quite challenging. Do some troubleshooting and get some additional tips, and seek professional help when needed.
Continuing the Journey: Staying on Track
In order to stay on track (maintain your progress), work on maintaining a healthy foundation and continue to practicing your MAP strategies.
Although you have been learning key strategies for managing your anxiety, it’s important to also maintain a solid foundation. Making sure you’re taking care of yourself and covering the basics will help you stay on track with managing anxiety.
Stay on track and maintain your gains by making sure you’re having fun, connecting with friends and family, and engaging in hobbies or activities you feel passionate about. These are the things that will improve your well-being and help you be in a better place to push back anxiety.
Taking the time to identify and solve problems that pop up, can help you reduce unnecessary stress and stay on track with managing your anxiety.
Goal setting can help you identify where you want to go and the actions needed to get there. It can also help you take the necessary steps to practice the tools in your MAP and keep your anxiety in check.
Maintaining progress is an important goal. People can, and do, slip back into old habits, and they can lose the improvements they’ve made. Luckily, there are ways to prevent anxiety from making a come back.
You can continue to work on maintaining your gains by working on a few additional things, including setting goals and getting help when needed.
You may have some specific fears or be faced with situations that are challenging in unique ways that require specialized tools and ideas.
Fact? Fiction? Urban legend? It’s helpful to get the facts about your fear as there is plenty of false information on the internet, news, and overheard at the water cooler.
Most people feel a bit uneasy when they see blood or have to have an injection. For some adults, seeing blood or needles causes them to feel light-headed or actually faint. Fortunately, there is a simple technique that can help.
Individuals with GAD worry excessively and uncontrollably about daily life events. Fortunately, there are some key coping tools that can help reduce excessive worry and help you focus on more important things in life.
Wanting to do your best and reach important goals are wonderful characteristics. However, individuals with perfectionism don’t simply want to do their best, they must do their best, and will do so at a great cost. Learn how to be less rigid and perfectionistic.
Building good relationships with others can reduce stress and anxiety. However, for some people their anxiety can contribute to their avoidance of social situations and prevent them from using social skills that will help them build important relationships.
Some individuals struggle with panic attacks, which are sudden rushes of intense fear or discomfort. Learn to debunk some coming myths about panic attacks and get some key tips for managing them.
For many adults with OCD their symptoms can take over, severely impacting their daily functioning and leading to reduced quality of life. The following section is designed to increase your understanding of how this process happens and what you can do about it.
Learn about a variety of practical tools designed to help you (or your loved one) sift through and organize possessions, so that you can learn to let go of unnecessary items cluttering your home (and life), as well as challenge unhelpful ways of thinking that lead to urges to acquire and possess things.
There are several effective strategies that can help with hair pulling and skin picking. These strategies are designed to increase your awareness of the triggers and urges that lead to pulling or picking, and to help you engage in alternative behaviours.