Sneaky Mistakes That Stop You From Managing Anxiety
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In this week's blog, we will discuss anxiety and the common mistakes that people often make, preventing them from effectively managing their anxiety. If anxiety is holding you back and you find yourself constantly googling about anxiety, this post is for you. Make sure to stay tuned and subscribe because we will be sharing a series of videos on anxiety, offering genuine and helpful support from an actual anxiety specialist to help you overcome your anxiety.
As an anxiety specialist who has personally experienced anxiety for a long time, I understand the challenges that come with it. First and foremost, it is important to realise that feeling anxious is okay. It does not mean that something bad is about to happen or that your scary thoughts are more likely to become a reality. Your feelings of anxiety do not indicate that you are losing control, losing your mind, or on the verge of collapsing under the weight of your worries. I know these are common fears for those of us with anxiety because I've been there too.
It is crucial to understand that the catastrophic scenarios you ruminate about are not any more real than they were earlier in the day. Anxiety has a way of showing us a reel of unpleasant disasters that can happen as a result of this deeply unpleasant feeling we carry. However, let's approach things with rationality and reason. Feeling excessively anxious means that your mind and body are trying to protect you from danger. But if you are reading this the likelihood is that you are not actually in any real danger at all.
The discomfort you are feeling stems from a fairly healthy and normal activation of your nervous system, which triggers the fight-flight response. Adrenaline and cortisol are responsible for the "on edge" feeling you are currently experiencing, and this is often a result of having a sensitized nervous system due to frequent anxiety. While you may feel anxious or panicky right now, please know that nothing is attacking you. I want to assure you that although your feelings are valid, you are safe. This intense feeling will pass, and you can revisit this blog whenever you need it, especially during moments of heightened anxiety and panic. Remember, this feeling will pass, just like the things you previously panicked about have come and gone. It is impossible for a body to sustain the consistent level of adrenaline required for constant anxiety. You have proof that this feeling will pass too.
Now, let's recap some key points about anxiety before we address some common misconceptions. Anxiety is a feeling of unease that encompasses emotions like worry and fear. It exists on a spectrum, ranging from slight nervousness to acute panic. It is important to remember that every human being experiences anxiety at some point in their lives, and there are many normal instances where feeling anxious is natural. For example, worrying about an exam, test results, a job interview, or feeling nervous on a first date are all common examples of anxiety. During these times, feeling anxious is completely normal and can even enhance performance by helping us focus and problem-solve. It is okay to feel anxious in anticipation of something we care about. However, let's explore some common pitfalls that can hinder effective anxiety management.
Pitfall 1: Trying to Fix Anxiety
One of the biggest mistakes people make is assuming that they are broken or that something is wrong with them because they experience anxiety. It is crucial to understand that anxiety is a healthy and normal response to certain situations. While adrenaline is a normal hormone to have in response to anxiety, excessive or disordered anxiety can lead individuals to believe that they need fixing. Trying to fix anxiety often leads to a vicious cycle of giving anxiety more attention and fuelling anxious thoughts and behaviours. It is essential to recognize that you are not broken in the first place and that shining a spotlight on your anxiety only amplifies it.
Pitfall 2: Avoidance
Avoidance is another common mistake that keeps people trapped in an anxious cycle. When we start avoiding things, our brains perceive this behavioural change and interpret it as a sign that something is wrong. People with anxiety often begin avoiding places or people for fear of being triggered or experiencing panic attacks. While short-term relief can be found through avoidance, this behaviour conditions the mind to associate certain situations with danger, perpetuating the cycle of anxiety. Over time, avoidance can lead to significant impacts on one's life and even develop into agoraphobia, which is a fear of being in situations where escape is difficult or help may not be readily available.
Pitfall 3: Excessive Google Searching
Many individuals turn to Google as a source of information, especially when it comes to health-related concerns. However, excessive Google searching can fuel anxiety and reinforce worst-case scenario thinking. Driven by algorithms, search engines tend to prioritize popular or highly discussed conditions, which may lead individuals down a rabbit hole of anxiety-provoking information. While it is understandable to seek answers and reassurance, relying solely on Google can perpetuate constant worry and "what if" thoughts, contributing to health anxiety.
Understanding these common pitfalls can help you evaluate your own behaviours and make positive changes in your life. By recognizing and addressing these patterns, you can make significant progress in your anxiety recovery. It is important to remember that managing anxiety is a journey, and small steps towards change can lead to long-term improvements. I have witnessed the impact of these changes in my practice and in my personal journey with anxiety. By exerting discipline, ignoring the impulse to fix anxiety, and breaking free from avoidance and excessive Google searching, you can experience positive and lasting changes in your anxiety levels.
In conclusion, anxiety is a common experience, but it does not define who you are. By understanding the sneaky mistakes that can hinder your ability to manage anxiety effectively, you can take control of your anxiety and live a more fulfilling life. Remember, you are not broken, and anxiety does not have to hold you back. Embrace the journey of managing anxiety, seek support from professionals or resources that resonate with you, and take small steps towards a brighter, anxiety-free future.
If you would like some expert support to finally overcome your anxiety, and you live/work in Glasgow, Edinburgh or other parts of the UK, click here to book a free consultation call with me.