Managing Anxiety: Learn to "take your internal temperature reading"

There is a simple tool I use to help clients assess their levels of stress and anxiety, and to help them develop more control and better coping skills. Refer to the figure below, and then come back up here to learn how to use this tool.


First, think about your internal temperature. What I mean is, that feeling of peace and calmness, versus that feeling of internal stress and/or anxiety or anger that comes from within. Think about a thermometer with readings from 0-100 degrees, as illustrated below. Find yourself on that thermometer by determining what "range" best describes your usual temperature, as either "comfortable", "uncomfortable" or "unbearable".

What does a "comfortable"internal temperature feel like?

A comfortable temperature may be in the 0 to 25 degree range. No-one is really at a 0 if you are living and breathing in this world! But some people just have a very low internal temperature. The "comfortable" range is marked by a sense of internal calmness. Physically, you are breathing normally or deeply without feeling any constrictions. Your muscles are generally relaxed. Mentally your thought patterns are linear (like a ticker-tape) and well-paced. You can focus, or re-direct your focus, easily. Behaviorally, you appear calm.

This is a good place to be!.

What does an "uncomfortable" internal temperature look like?

If you know your "comfortable temperature", you can tell when your own internal temperature is becoming "uncomfortable". For example if you are normally at  10 degrees (which is pretty low), then uncomfortable for you may begin at a 20 or 25. If your comfortable starts at a 20, your uncomfortable  level may start at a 30 or 40.In any case, discomfort is on the rise. Physically, your breathing may begin to feel a little constricted, your muscles may begin to feel tense, your chest may feel a little heavy or there may be a slight pounding in your chest that you are aware of ,or  your head may ache a little-all or some of these things may be happening - not at an intense level but enough that feel physically heavier,achier, or tighter. Mentally your thoughts may still be pretty linear but you may notice a quickening in the pace of your thoughts. Your thoughts may jump from one topic to another, and back again., You can redirect yourself but it takes some effort. Behaviorally you may still appear calm or you may seem like you are beginning to be agitated or short-tempered or a little emotional in some other way.
An uncomfortable internal temperature may be in the 25-50 degree range, or maybe even a little higher.

What does an "unbearable" internal temperature look like?

As your temperature continues to climb from uncomfortable to unbearable, changes start occurring more rapidly. Your temperature is definitely over 60, and on its way to 100.  Physically you will be noticing some intense sensations. This may include: racing heart; constricted chest, clammy, sweaty, or cold sensations; headaches/head tension; muscle tension, tight jaw,stomach pains and/or loose bowels. Mentally your thoughts may be racing and it may feel like you can't keep up with them, or that they (your thoughts) are "ping-ponging" around. Behaviorally it becomes pretty noticeable that something is wrong. Depending on what happens to YOU when your temperature becomes really high; one of the following will be observed: a "freeze" or shut-down; crying or extreme display of being upset, or screaming/shouting/hitting.

What possible good news can come from knowing my temperature gets unbearable at times?


The good news is that once you have more of a handle on your internal temperature, you will be aware of when your temperature goes up, and can begin to develop some coping mechanisms to keep it in check. Contact me if you would like to learn more.