Are you struggling to get out and about or face things, people or places that feel too difficult? When we avoid it initially feels helpful – in the short term, but in the long term only compounds our anxious feelings and we can fall into a vicious cycle of avoidance, the more we avoid the less we do and the less we do the worse we feel, our world gets smaller and smaller, and we feel worse and worse!
If there are places or people, you’re avoiding because you’re frightened or lacking confidence then this blog is for you!
There are times when we can all feel worried or stressed about something. We can be prone to avoiding situations or put of doing things that seem too stressful because we build it up in our minds to something really big and we begin to believe we can’t cope. The issue then becomes just too big to overcome and so we decide not to do it at all. Things like going out to the shops, meeting other people, or even going into the workplace to do a job we once loved. Before we know it, we have fallen into a cycle of avoidance.
It has been even more difficult recently because of the coronavirus pandemic restrictions that have been imposed on us, albeit for the safety of ourselves and others. We have rightly been advised to keep a safe distance from other people to stop the virus from spreading therefore keeping as many of us as possible safe and well. However, it is likely that has made some of us more anxious and worried than usual about going out and why wouldn’t we be! It maybe you or a relative/friend have a previously underlying condition and the virus has compounded any previous cautions about being around other people and certain places. You may have noticed that over the past few months a greater anxiety and fear, maybe seeking reassurance or going for repeated tests.
What we know is that no matter the initial cause it is important to manage these fears and anxieties and not allow them to take over your life as best you can and take actions to overcome them before they take over your life.
We know we stop doing things because of how it makes us feel. Initially this relieves our anxious feelings, and we feel better. However, the less we do the worse we feel and the worse we feel the less we do – creating a vicious cycle of avoidance (Insert vicious cycle of avoidance here or the link).
Next steps – use the Face It Planner sheet
Purpose – A highly visual way of helping create a step-by-step plan to face fears, build activity and confidence. This is especially helpful for planning to do an activity that to start with seems scary (e.g. going to the shops, meeting friends for lunch in a busy café, public speaking, singing or acting).
How it works – The best way to face up to something scary is to break down the journey into small steady steps. Each step should be big enough to move things forwards- and small enough to be successful. So, for a son or daughter, to take part in the school play, a first step might be to help with the stage lights, or a walk on silent part, then a part with a short speaking role, and so on.
Common difficulties – A key is recurrently doing the planned goal again and again until anxiety drops off, before moving to the next stage. The most common mistake is choosing a step that seems too big and overwhelming- and then struggling or putting off/failing to do it. Small steady steps are what is needed to reach your target or achieve your goal.
Opportunities to use this tool – Most people have things they want to master or overcome. the Face It Planner can be used for lots of things. Everything from facing a fear to breaking down a big target (like preparing a report or going somewhere you find scary like a bus journey or shop) into steps.
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The living Life to the Full Team.