All of us experience anxiety. It’s a natural part of the human experience.
Most of us don’t relish it and it’s probably one of the most common issues for people in therapy.
I know from having had some pretty debilitating periods of anxiety earlier in my life that it can make life feel incredibly difficult.
Anxiety has many negative effects in our lives, it can make us avoid making certain choices, impact our physical wellbeing, our sleep, memory, decision making and our mood.
However it also serves a purpose by illuminating what matters to us. The energy it creates can help motivate us to take action. It serves as a safety net, indicating that we might need to keep ourselves safe. It also tells us what we’re finding challenging and when we’re stepping outside of our comfort zone, which is great for our personal growth. (If that’s what you’re looking for!)
One of the most common “solution” behaviours towards anxiety is to avoid it.
Avoidance can come in many forms. We might try to avoid people, places, things, emotions and even our thoughts too.
Avoiding the issue provides short term relief, but doesn’t address the route cause of the issue we may be worrying about.
We end up just kicking the can down the road with the can getting heavier with each kick.
The problem with avoiding things is that the short term relief can often teach us that it’s good to avoid and therefore we want to do more to it.
The most effective way to alleviate the anxiety caused by avoidance is take some action towards solving the issue at hand.
If we can learn how to respond to anxiety more effectively and not slip into an all too familiar pattern of trying to avoid it, we often find that things aren’t as bad as we feared.
Over the years, I’m pleased to say, I’ve learnt to manage my anxiety much more effectively. However, I’m writing this as I’ve been avoiding doing any Christmas shopping this year. With each day that passes, I notice my anxiety levels rising as I know time is running out. I find that it’s often these small stresses which can pile on anxiety in other areas of our lives.
So, today I’m going to listen to that rising anxiety and get some shopping done. I may not want to do it and I probably won’t enjoy it very much but I’m pretty sure I’ll feel much better by taking some action rather than waiting until next weekend.
What are you avoiding right now?
Do you notice any anxiety associated with it?
What small steps could you take towards that issue?