Psychology Tools Series

This page features 20+ practical psychology tools to increase happiness, lower anxiety and manage anger in a healthy fashion.  Most of these tools are derived from CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) and Buddhist Psychology and have been written by licensed mental health professionals.  Please note that many of the exercises can be helpful under a variety of circumstances, but we’ve categorized them for convenience (e.g., tools for addressing anxiety can also be helpful for addressing anger). We will continue to update this page with new psychology tools and exercises, so bookmark this page!

Psychology Tools to Increase Happiness (6)
Psychology Tools to Decrease Anxiety and Manage Stress (11)
Psychology Tools to Manage Anger (6)
Psychology Tools to Help with Addiction (1)

Psychology Tools for Happiness
Photo Credit: Charles Henry

Psychology Tools to Increase Happiness

Below are 6 practical psychology tools that can help increase feelings of emotional well-being, including happiness.

1.) What are Cognitive Distortions? Learn more about how this key concept from cognitive-behavioral therapy; how distorted thinking can lead to or exacerbate negative emotional states.

2.) Identifying Cognitive Distortions: try this exercise for a systematic way to start identifying cognitive distortions that you may be using.

3.) Challenging Cognitive Distortions: this is similar to the exercise above related to identifying cognitive distortions, but it takes it one step further by helping you start to strengthen more rational thought processes and self-talk, which can lead to greater emotional well-being.

4.) Want to be Happier? Practice Gratitude: increase your happiness by practicing gratitude. This post covers some research on benefits of gratitude and discusses ways to establish a regular “gratitude practice.”

5.) Reduce Depression by Using a CBT Activity Log: use this cognitive behavioral therapy technique to help improve your mood and decrease feelings of depression. Activity chart is included.

6.) Healthy Assertiveness: assertiveness can contribute to greater ease and happiness in life; use this simple definition of assertiveness as a starting place.

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Psychology Tools to Decrease Anxiety and Manage Stress

Below you’ll find 8 practical psychology tools, derived from cogntive-behavioral therapy and Buddhist psychology/Mindfulness Based Approaches, that can help you reduce anxiety and foster more inner peace in your life.

1.) Decrease Worry by Thinking Like a Scientist: look at the facts of the situation and distinguish between “thinking” vs. “worrying” to handle life stressors.

2.) What is Mindfulness?: learn the basics of “mindfulness” – an ancient practice with powerful modern day applicability.  Studies show that mindfulness can be helpful with a variety of issues, including anxiety, stress, chronic pain and depression.

3.) 5 Minute Meditation Exercise: learn how to meditate by trying this short exercise in mindful breathing – one type of mindfulness meditation.

4.) More Curiosity, Less Judgment: a judging mind leads to emotional distress, whereas curiosity fosters more understanding and inner peace. Strengthen your “curiosity muscle” by trying this simple, but powerful exercise.

5.) More Inner Peace? Try the RAIN Tool: use this 4-step practice in mindfulness to cultivate more inner peace.

6.) The Mindful Commuter: learn how to use mindfulness to cultivate inner peace on your way to and from work.

7.) Schedule “Worry Time: this cognitive-behavioral therapy tool can help strengthen your ability to control how often and when you worry; rather than “worrying all the time,” you can learn to reduce the amount of time spent worrying and even learn to worry at more “convenient” times.

8.) Mindful Eating Exercise: slowing down and cultivating mindfulness while eating can help us develop a healthier relationship to food.  Try this 5 minute exercise based on the work of Jon Kabat Zinn, founder of the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program.

9.) Cultivating a Wise and Balance Mind with DBT: this Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) tool, Wise Mind ACCEPTS, teaches you how to accept and tolerate emotional discomfort in unavoidable situations.

10.) “Soft Belly” Mindfulness Practice: this simple, but powerful low-tech version of biofeedback can help lower tension and create ease.  It can be practiced for just 20-30 seconds at a time either once a day, or throughout the day.

11.) Mindfulness and the Five Hindrances to (Inner) Peace : In Buddhist psychology, the concept of “The Five Hindrances” sheds light on what gets in the way of us feeling as peaceful as possible and making healthy choices, regardless of the particular circumstances we face.

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Psychology Tools for Managing Anger

Below are several classic anger management tools, most of which are based on cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) theory. These tools can help you understand and manage your anger in a healthier way.

1.) What is Anger? A Secondary Emotion: this post helps clarify what anger is – a secondary emotion that is often fueled by deeper feelings like fear and sadness.

2.) Use an Anger Meter to Avoid Negative Consequences: this tool is designed to help monitor your anger before it gets out of control.

3.) A-B-C-D Model for Anger Management: this exercise can help you understand how your anger gets triggered, and in turn, how you can calm yourself when that happens, by using cognitive strategies. This tool can be used for a variety of painful emotional states, not just anger.

4.) How to Take a “Time-Out”: this is a classic anger management tool and one that everybody should learn to use.

5.) Visualization – Internalize Sacred Figure: this exercise describes a visualization process that can help quell strong anger and increase skillful responses to it.

6.) “PLEASE Mastery” Technique: this is a tool from DBT (dialectical behavior therapy) for help with emotional regulation and self care. “PLEASE” is an acronym that serves as a reminder to: treat Physical Illness (P, L); eat healthy foods (E); avoid mood altering drugs (A); get adequate sleep (S); exercise regularly (E); and to do something each day that makes you feel good (Mastery).

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Psychology Tools to Help with Addiction

1.) H.A.L.T.: A Self-Care Tool: H.A.L.T. stands for “Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired.”  All of those states are risk factors for turning to substances or other forms of addiction.

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  1. As far as resources go, anybody interested in Buddhist teaching and meditation will also find a huge amount of information here:

    http://dharmaseed.org

    The site includes information about meditation retreats, dharma talks, and teachers. There are many teachers on the site. Two teachers you could start with are Jack Kornfield, and Tara Brach.

    Be well,

    Clark

  2. Thanks, Clark! Dharmaseed.org is an excellent resource. I often listen to one of the thousands of informative and inspirational talks featured on the site.

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