The Purpose of CART:
With anxiety, there are two tasks:
For self-soothing, it is helpful to intentionally do something different that will activate your prefrontal cortex such as: engaging in various breathing exercises; counting backwards; spelling backwards; coming up with an imaginative story and visualizing it in real time; scanning the room for things that remind you that you are safe; using progressive body relaxation techniques; cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) worksheets; brain games like chess or Suduko, etc. When we focus our intention on doing tasks that use a preferred part of our brain, then that part of the brain comes online rather than our fight/flight/freeze part of the brain.
2) Reducing activation of trigger’s ability to pull us down the rabbit hole.
The purpose of CART is to reduce the impact of existing triggers, so you are less likely to get stuck on the same anxiety loop or reactive track in the future. The goal is to permanently lessen the effect of a trigger on your nervous system. So, we are talking about prevention, not self-soothing. With CART, we are largely using co-regulation and positive imagery as a form of self-soothing, while also subconsciously stimulating the trigger and rewiring the brain.