Cognitive techniques to reduce anxiety and stress

Cognitive techniques to reduce anxiety and stress

The anxiety and stress they are sensations that, in addition to producing much suffering and lack of control, can become tremendously disabling. Psychologists have been working for many years to help people in the arduous task of overcoming these ailments. Next we will explain some of the techniques that exist today and that have been proven are very effective.


  • 1 The technique of covert assertion
  • 2 The systematic desensibilation technique
  • 3 The technique of covert sensitization
  • 4 The visualization technique

The covert assertion technique

It helps reduce emotional anxiety through the development of two separate skills:thought interruption and thought substitution.

At the first indication of a habitual thought that we know leads to unpleasant emotions, the thought is interrupted by telling ourselves the word "Enough"Or"Stop"Then the gap left by interrupted thinking is filled with previously prepared positive thoughts that are more realistic, assertive and constructive. Acquiring these skills enables a person to successfully face the thoughts that previously led to high levels of anxiety, depression or anger

The interruption of thought acts as a distracting punishment or tactic, reducing the likelihood of the same thought reappearing again and creating a space in the chain of thoughts for a positive assertion. Negative emotions are cut off before they can arise.

This technique is useful if you suffer from multiple phobias or a constellation of fears of a general nature, related to each other.

Steps to follow

  1. Identify and value stressful thoughts.
  2. Set a temporary interruption: if an alarm clock is used, it will be programmed for when we already have in mind the stressful thought to sound in two minutes, during which we will keep that thought in mind. The moment the alarm sounds, we will shout Enough! We will try to keep the mind blank for 30 seconds.
  3. Practice without interruption of thought: The same as the previous one but without the help of the alarm clock. We must conclude this phase when we are able to shout the keyword internally.
  4. Prepare covert assertions: Select positive thoughts that can replace mental emptiness.
  5. Practice covert assertion.
  6. Use covert assertion in real-life situations: You have to move from imaginary situations to real-life situations.

The systematic desensibilation technique

With thesystematic desensitization A person can learn to face objects and situations that are particularly threatening. It's about learning to relax while imagining scenes that, progressively, are causing more anxiety. The technique is effective in combating classical phobias, chronic fears and some reactions of interpersonal anxiety.

Steps to follow

  1. Relax the muscles at will progressively (feet, legs, hands, arms, abdomen, chest, neck, face ...)
  2. Make a list with all fears
  3. Build a hierarchy of anxious scenes from less to greater intensity of anxiety.
  4. Progress in the imagination with the feared situations of the hierarchy. It is important that visualization be practiced so that the situation is lived as more real. We will not move on to a new anxiogenic situation if we have not achieved that the previous situation of the hierarchy is completely resolved as regards the anxiety experienced.

The covert sensitization technique

Is used for treat destructive habits. It is called "undercover"because the basic treatment is carried out in the mind. The theory on which thecovert sensitization It is as follows: behaviors that become entrenched habits are learned because they are consistently reinforced by a great deal of pleasure. One way to eliminate the habit is to start by associating habitual behavior with some very unpleasant imaginary stimulus. Thus, the old habit stops evoking pleasurable images and begins to associate with something harmful and repulsive.

It is effective in the treatment to reduce theft, compulsion to play, to lie, to buy, etc. It has been used with variable results to treat problems with alcohol or tobacco.

Steps to follow

  1. Learning of the progressive relaxation.
  2. Destructive Habit Analysis
  3. Creation of a pleasant hierarchy: list of five or ten scenes in which the person enjoys the destructive habit.
  4. Creation of an aversive scene: look for a repulsive or frightening thought.
  5. Combination of pleasant and aversive scenes.
  6. Alteration of the aversive scene.
  7. Practice covert awareness in real life.

The visualization technique

Thedisplay It is a very useful tool to achieve greater control of the mind, emotions and body and to make desired changes in behavior. It can be used to relieve muscle tension, eliminate pain and for the success of many of the cognitive techniques already seen above.

It is nothing but relax and vividly imagine different things, situations in the most real way possible and with all possible details.

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