You have now clarified the first three aspects of your Relapse Prevention Plan and I have included an example of how it might look below. Feel free to include any of these ideas in your own, making sure they meet your needs and are realistic actions that you could take.

 Example Relapse Prevention Plan

  1. Triggers:
    • Stressful work deadlines
    • Conflict in personal relationships
    • Financial concerns
    • Health-related worries
    • Exposure to crowded spaces or public speaking engagements.
  1. Early Warning Signs:
    • Increased worry and rumination
    • Difficulty concentrating
    • Physical symptoms such as tension headaches or stomach discomfort
    • Changes in sleep patterns, including difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep
    • Avoidance behaviours, such as withdrawing from social interactions or procrastinating on tasks
  1. Coping Strategies and Tools:
    • Practice progressive muscle relaxation to manage physical symptoms of anxiety.
    • Challenge negative thoughts and cognitive distortions using cognitive-behavioural techniques, such as thought challenging or reframing.
    • Engage in mindfulness meditation to cultivate present-moment awareness and reduce rumination.
    • Go for a walk.
    • Letter writing from my inner parent to feel loved and held.
    • Reach out for support and contact [insert name of trusted friend] and ask if I can talk about how I’m feeling so I feel supported.
    • Plan something fun to do on the weekend and write it in my diary/calendar to make sure I do it!
    • Consider taking a temporary break from stressors, such as requesting time off from work or rescheduling non-urgent commitments.
    • Journal to engage self-compassion and kindness towards myself, recognising that setbacks are a natural part of the recovery process.
    • Tidy my room/home/kitchen etc so my space feels soothing and calm.

 

As you practise your relapse prevention plan, it’ll be important to review whether it’s working for you and make any changes that you need to. So take time periodically to reflect on your triggers, and warning signs in your plan to check that they remain accurate. Take opportunities to reflect on your tool kit and hone it what works for you.

In the upcoming module, we’ll focus on reinforcing healthy habits and setting achievable goals for continued progress beyond the course. We’ll begin by crafting a Relapse Response plan, providing you with a practical strategy for managing heightened anxiety episodes. This plan empowers you to navigate relapses effectively, minimising their impact on your daily life and promoting overall well-being, allowing you to fully engage in your life and relationships

 Relapse Response Plan

If you notice a rapid worsening of your anxiety without recognising the triggers or warning signs beforehand, having a relapse response plan is essential. This plan acts as a proactive approach to address acute anxiety episodes and prevent further escalation. Ensure each step is realistic and manageable, avoiding making it too difficult for yourself.

Action Step

Reflect on the following, making notes in your journal of thoughts and feelings that come up, to ensure you capture important information to create your relapse response plan.

  • When I’m feeling at my worst and most anxious, what do I need?
  • What self-soothing activities or comfort measures do I find comforting and grounding in these moments of distress?
  • What is the easiest and most doable act of self-care I can take at this point?
  • Who are the supportive individuals in my life that I can turn to for assistance and emotional support when I feel at my worst?

 

Now write 3 actions that you can take when you are feeling overwhelmed with anxiety. They need to concise and doable. For example:

  1. Find a space on my own (separate room, the bathroom, the car, an empty office) and do a progressive muscle relaxation practise.
  2. Call a friend.
  3. Go for a walk and listen to some calming music.

 

Once you have taken these steps to calm your nervous system, and feel more regulated, you will then be able to engage more cognitively and over the day or week or so, you’ll be able to pick up your other tools to rebuild your battery of resilience and improve your overall wellbeing.