Anxiety Recovery Made Simple
Anxiety Mentor Psychotherapy
Have you have been trying to get better on your own? Does it seem like the harder you try the worse things get? If so, then you are not alone. This is a common experience for anxiety and phobia sufferers. At Anxiety Mentor, we understand anxiety and phobias, how they work, and most importantly how to help people recover.
Overcoming anxiety disorders and phobias is often a counterintuitive problem because the very things that seem like the most natural solutions can actually make the problem worse. Anxiety disorders and phobias are characterised by intense fear and worry, and people who suffer from them often engage in avoidance behaviors in an attempt to manage their anxiety. However, this avoidance can actually reinforce the fear response and make the anxiety worse over time.
For example, someone experiencing a phobia of spiders may avoid going outside or checking dark corners of the room for fear of encountering a spider. This avoidance may provide temporary relief, but it reinforces the belief that spiders are dangerous and should be feared, making the fear even stronger over time. Similarly, someone experiencing social anxiety may avoid social situations in an attempt to avoid the anxiety that comes with them, but this avoidance can lead to social isolation and increased anxiety about future social situations.
To overcome anxiety disorders and phobias, it is often necessary to do the opposite of what feels natural. This may involve gradually exposing oneself to feared situations in a controlled and safe manner, in a process called exposure therapy. This may seem counterintuitive, but it allows individuals to confront their fears in a way that feels manageable and build up their tolerance to the anxiety over time.
Here are some useful metaphors for understanding why recovery from anxiety disorders and phobias is a counterintuitive problem:
The quicksand metaphor: Did you ever see one of those old movies where the characters get stuck in quicksand? This is similar to recovery from anxiety disorders and phobias. The more you struggle and fight against the anxiety, the more you sink into it. Similarly, the more you try to avoid the object of your fear or the situation that triggers your anxiety, the more it can reinforce the anxiety and make it stronger. This is because avoidance prevents you from learning that the feared object or situation is not as dangerous as you believe it to be.
The turbulence metaphor: Recovery from anxiety disorders and phobias can be like flying through turbulence on an airplane. When you hit turbulence, it's natural to feel anxious and want to escape the situation. However, the best course of action is often to stay in your seat and wait for the turbulence to pass. Similarly, when you experience anxiety or a panic attack, it can be tempting to try to escape or avoid the situation. However, the most effective way to overcome the anxiety is often to stay with the feeling and wait for it to pass.
The muscle-building metaphor: Just as you need to work out and challenge your muscles to make them stronger, you need to face your fears and challenges to overcome anxiety. This means gradually exposing yourself to the feared object or situation and learning to tolerate the anxiety that arises. Over time, like building muscles, your ability to cope with anxiety will grow stronger.
The maze metaphor: If you have ever been inside a maze then you will know that initially is may seem overwhelming and confusing, but as you practice and learn the layout, you begin to develop a sense of mastery and confidence. Similarly, as you gradually confront your fears and challenges, you begin to develop a sense of control and mastery over your anxiety. This can help you feel more confident in facing future challenges and reduce the power of anxiety over your life. As you become more aware of your patterns, it will be easier to take on the role of the observer, rather than the person trying to escape. This shift in perspective will allow you to see how you have been inadvertently reinforcing the fear and anxiety. Once you can see this it will make it easier to make the changes necessary to move forward.
Another effective approach is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), which focuses on identifying and changing negative thought patterns that contribute to anxiety and fear. This involves challenging irrational beliefs and replacing them with more realistic and balanced ones. Again, this can be counterintuitive because it requires individuals to challenge deeply ingrained beliefs about themselves and the world around them. CBT is based on the idea that our thoughts, emotions, and behaviors are interconnected, and that changing one can lead to changes in the others.
Research has consistently shown that CBT is an effective treatment for anxiety disorders and phobias. Studies have found that CBT can lead to significant improvements in anxiety symptoms, with many patients experiencing a dramatic reduction in their symptoms. However, this requires hard work. The therapist can guide you, but you must be willing to be an active participant in your own recovery to see results.
CBT for anxiety disorders typically involves a combination of cognitive restructuring and exposure therapy. In cognitive restructuring, patients work with their therapist to identify negative thoughts and beliefs that contribute to their anxiety, and to replace them with more positive and realistic thoughts. This can help patients develop a more balanced and realistic perspective on their fears and anxieties.
Exposure therapy involves gradually exposing patients to the situations or objects that trigger their anxiety. This can be done in a controlled and gradual way, so that patients can learn to tolerate the anxiety and see that their fears are not as dangerous as they may have thought. Over time, exposure therapy can help patients overcome their fears and reduce the power of anxiety in their lives.
CBT is typically a collaborative and interactive therapy, with patients working closely with their therapist to set goals and develop strategies for overcoming anxiety. The therapy is also typically focused on the present, rather than delving into the past, which can make it a more comfortable and accessible option for many patients.
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is a type of psychotherapy that can be particularly effective for individuals struggling with anxiety disorders and phobias. ACT is based on the idea that anxiety and other negative emotions are a natural part of life and that trying to avoid them only makes them worse. Instead of trying to control or eliminate anxiety, ACT encourages individuals to learn to accept it and live their lives according to their values, rather than their fears.
ACT has several key components that can be helpful for individuals with anxiety disorders and phobias. These include:
Mindfulness: This involves learning to be present in the moment and observe thoughts and feelings without judgment. This can help individuals become more aware of their anxiety and learn to accept it rather than trying to push it away.
Values: Identifying what is important and meaningful to an individual can help them to focus on what they want to achieve, rather than their anxiety.
Cognitive defusion: This involves learning to separate oneself from negative thoughts and beliefs in order to reduce their impact on emotions and behavior.
Committed action: This involves taking action towards goals and values, even in the presence of anxiety or other negative emotions.
Using ACT in anxiety disorder and phobia recovery can be helpful because it shifts the focus away from trying to eliminate anxiety and towards building a rich, meaningful life in spite of it. This can be particularly important for individuals who have been avoiding certain situations due to anxiety, as it encourages them to confront their fears and take action towards what they value. Yes, we want to reduce our fear and anxiety, but it is often necessary to do it in a way that may initially seem the opposite of what your logic and instincts tell you.
In summary, overcoming anxiety disorders and phobias is a counterintuitive problem because the solutions often require individuals to do the opposite of what feels natural. However, through a combination of exposure therapy, CBT, and other evidence-based approaches, such as ACT, individuals can learn to live their lives to the fullest instead of navigating the direction of their lives around these issues.
Common Anxiety Disorders
Anxiety Mentor can also provide support for the following:
- Peer Pressure
- Trouble fitting in
- Family disputes
- Feeling lost in life
- Not feeling valued by others
- Not having a partner
- Achieving goals
- Living in the moment
What to Expect
Expect to be treated respectfully and as though you are the expert of your life. Anxiety Mentor psychotherapy services can help you to overcome your struggle with anxiety disorders and/or phobias. We will work at your own pace and in line with your values. Psychotherapy with Anxiety Mentor is practical, straightforward, and based on easy to understand principles. Anxiety disorder and phobia recovery is hard work but is attainable with the right support and commitment to seeing things through. Contact us today for an appointment.
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If you are experiencing anxiety or other related issues and would like support, please click the button to book an appointment for a one on one session.