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Getting Started: Breaking Avoidance to Decrease Anxiety

Well, here goes nothing! I am so excited (and a little terrified) to launch this blog. The blog concept and ideas for topics are things I’ve been sitting on for a long time. NOW is as good of a time as ever to Just. Do. It. In my practice, I am often encouraging individuals to reach their goals or to conquer their anxieties or fears. So how can I sit back and let my own fear stop me from posting a few words?

I often say to my clients that ACTION is the best antidote to anxiety. Our brains are trained to STOP when we feel anxiety, frequently leading us to avoid the thing that is making us anxious. Ironically, avoidance only makes our anxiety higher. The more we build something up in our minds as something to be feared, the harder it seems to overcome. We get stuck in an anxious-avoidant-more anxious-more avoidant-even MORE anxious loop. But it does not have to be that way. We can change that association and re-train our brains to feel the anxiety yet do it anyway. This sometimes requires work to accept or "sit with" feelings of anxiety. However, Anxiety does not have to equal STOP. Taking one small action step toward what it is we’re avoiding often can melt the anxiety away. Sometimes that’s as simple as making a deal with yourself to tackle the smallest part of an obstacle first, telling yourself that you’ll only do that one part. Many times, you’ll find that once you’ve started, motivation kicks in and you keep working beyond that first small step. So here I am, taking my own advice.