It can be very difficult to manage an anxiety disorder. You may be afraid of spiders, you fear the dentist or you do whatever it takes in order not to give a presentation. Sounds familiar? Luckily, there are some tips to help you!
The best way to get rid of your anxiety disorder is by actively confronting your anxiety. This is called exposure. You learn to temper your anxiety by purposely experiencing feared situations. This does not sounds easy at all for someone with an anxiety disorder. Confronting your anxiety is actually the complete opposite of what you always have been doing. This can activate a lot of negative emotions and all of your senses want to guide you into a different direction: avoid it!
What can you do about it?
Something that can help confronting your anxiety disorder, is the right mindset. A mindset is a certain believe how to look at situations and how to manage them. Luckily, a mindset is pretty flexible and can be adjusted by others and even by yourself! So how do you change your mindset en how does a mindset contribute to confronting my anxiety disorder?
Your mindset creates certain expectations. This can either be positive or negative. Having a convinced believe that your feelings of anxiety will decrease because of the confrontation of your anxiety disorder, will do a lot! Convince yourself that exposure is effective and create a positive mindset. This causes some physical effects. Your heart rate and blood pressure will start decreasing, which in turn lowers the intensity of the negative feelings. Informing yourself about exposure can help to convince yourself. Search for information about exposure therapy and read personal experiences of other people. Or you can read one of our other blogs about anxiety disorders!
Shift your attention
A negative mindset creates tunnel vision. Your focus lies on the negative aspects and this makes the confrontation of your anxiety disorder even harder. Compare the confrontation with planning to exercise. You want to go to the gym but at the same time you are also a bit lazy. You have to push yourself to still go and exercise, but you actually prefer skipping it. To get you of the couch, it can help shifting your attention from your current negative mood to the expected positive mood after having exercised. Think about how you will feel when you still would go to exercise, despite the reluctance. Would you still feel negativity or would you for example feel proud or happy you actually went to the gym? This also applies to confronting your anxiety. Focus your attention to the expected positive feelings after the confrontation to motivate yourself getting into action!
Plan an event that is not in your comfort zone when you are going to confront your anxiety. You can mention your thoughts about the event and which feelings you expect to experience. Try to list a fearful expectation and a rational expectation. Did you manage to do the event? Reflect on this by checking whether the experienced feelings match your expectations.