Things to do to Reduce Anxiety

Things to do to Reduce Anxiety

Posted By The Swedish

When we're feeling anxious the most natural thing in the world is to try to avoid whatever is making us anxious because as long as we can avoid it then we don't have to be anxious about it anymore.

But the problem with avoidance is it's just a short-term way of managing anxiety because in most cases avoidance is just putting off the inevitable and the more we practice avoidance the more anxious we'll be when we do have to face whatever we're feeling anxious about because each time we avoid something that's making us anxious we're reinforcing our belief that we just can't deal with it and that it's more than we can bear and each time we do this the amount of anxiety associated with whatever we're trying to avoid increases.

The other thing about avoidance is that it robs us of the opportunity to have experiences in which we can practice at dealing with our anxiety. So not only are we increasing our anxiety around this one thing right now that we're trying to avoid but we're making all future things that we feel anxious about more difficult to manage because we haven't gained any skills or experiences to teach us how to cope with anxiety. And so we don't know what we can do when we're feeling anxious other than to do whatever we can to try to avoid the source of our anxiety. 

And as avoidance becomes our main technique for dealing with our anxiety our life starts to shrink and contract and we can start to isolate ourselves as a list of things that we need to avoid keeps growing, now the opposite of avoidance is exposure and exposure is the antidote to anxiety the more we avoid something that's causing us anxiety the more anxiety even just the thought of that thing can generate. But the more we expose ourselves to something that's causing us anxiety the more comfortable we become with it and then the less anxiety it provokes. This process of reducing anxiety through exposure is called habituation and so the more we habituate ourselves to something the more comfortable we become with it and the less anxiety it creates. 

We experience this sort of reduction in anxiety through exposure and habituation all of the time whenever we start something new whether it's a new job or hanging out with a new group of people we feel some anxiety and nervousness at first but then the more we do it the more we habituated to it and the more comfortable we become until this thing we had been feeling anxious about becomes routine and they're no longer causes us anxiety.

But some things make us so anxious we can't even force ourselves to go through with them and we end up avoiding them despite our best intentions. In these cases it can help to use a more formal process of exposure called greater disclosure or systematic desensitization in the key degraded exposure or systematic desensitization is to not try to force yourself to jump right in to something that's causing you extreme anxiety because this can take you too far out of your comfort zone and make your anxiety skyrocket so high that you'll be compelled to jump right back out again and revert to avoiding what's been making you anxious. So instead you need to break things down into a series of smaller steps and then gradually ease in to what's causing you anxiety, so instead of plunging right in you stick your toes in the water first and then once you've acclimated yourself to the water you wade out a little get used to the water and then wade out a little bit more and you keep doing this until eventually you're feeling comfortable enough to dunk your head into the water and start swimming.

An exposure works for all sorts of anxiety whether it's just a specific situation you've been avoiding due to anxiety or for phobias and social anxiety.

It works for panic attacks where you can practice exposing yourself to the physical sensations that are driving your panic. For example by doing some aerobic exercise to get your heart pounding and then allowing yourself to experience this feeling of a racing heart knowing it's been brought on by your exercise and not because you're having a heart attack.

And then as you habituate to this feeling when your heart does start to race it no longer causes you the extreme anxiety that brings on a panic attack, and for OCD we use something called exposure and response prevention in which you expose yourself to something that makes you anxious and then prevent yourself from engaging in the compulsive response that you usually use to manage your anxiety.

An exposure even works for trauma and PTSD where you gradually expose yourself to memories of the traumatic, event until eventually you become habituated to them and then these memories no longer cause you such extreme distress.

For more info please download Bongo Exclusive app on Google playstore.

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