WEEK 6- Avoidance in anxiety

Tam Johnston

Wednesday Worry tips

So last week summed out the foundational tips for anxiety. With all of those taken care of, we now have free reign to delve into working with anxiety more. Let’s go!

WEEK 6- Avoidance in anxiety anxiety

What was that? “Yes, but….”… I hear you cry? I know. Really, I do! In fear, worry and anxiety our brain’s (well, our fight and flight centre to be exact) main mission is to make us avoid or run away from something that seems threatening, unpleasant, unfamiliar or uncomfortable. So in the real world, this plays out as procrastination, and we can get really inventive at it! We are also naturally drawn towards what is easy or enjoyable first, meaning there is huge temptation to put off that dreaded  task until (much!) later.

But of course this creates a vicious spiral whereby avoiding approaching a situation means the magnitude of it seems to get bigger and bigger, as does the threat. It also has the added effect of keeping it at the back of our mind, so threat detection centre cannot ‘stand down’ as it knows that it still got this looming threat but it hasn’t dealt with yet. The result? It gives a nervous system final activated and it needs to be, meaning we continue to feel more more anxious, stressed and fearful.

Needless to say, this spirals and worsens the longer we avoid it. Throw in a little bit of ‘negging’ ourselves out by beating ourselves up from not doing it, telling ourselves that we should, must, need to… do little to help the situation.

Yet there is a solution. It requires a deep breath in and a little bit of action. The moment we start doing something and approaching a situation, our anxiety or fear reduces. Taking action means that we are working towards solving the situation and signals to ourselves that it is safe enough to approach (even if it seems a little scary and unfamiliar). The sooner we just bite the bullet and start taking action, the quicker our anxiety or fear will diminish, and our helpful, rational, solution focused part of the brain will be able to come back online. The longer we leave it, the worst it feels… and therefore gets. So beat procrastination and our brain’s attempt at avoidance tactics by choosing to approach and start finding a way to handle what you perceive to be the most difficult, or unpleasant.

So do it now! Go on, you can find a way to handle it and push through. The sense of relief will be palpable and free you up to focus on the things you really do want to do. The added bonus, each time you do, you’re increasing your trust in yourself to be up to handle things meaning over the longer term, you will perceive the situations is far less threatening and develop more self-confidence within yourself.

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TIPS IN THE SERIES

WEEK 12 – Breathing for anxiety

WEEK 12 – Breathing for anxiety

WEEK 6- Avoidance in anxiety anxiety

When stress, tension, anxiety or panic kicks in, the first thing to respond is our breathing. Most of us have heard ‘and breathe’ yet, how many of us know ‘how’ or truly give it the adjustments it needs?

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