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Avoidance

WHAT IS IT?
A tendency to change your behaviour to avoid thinking about something or doing a difficult thing. The act of denying or distancing yourself from a problem to gain a temporary sense of relief. In the long run, avoidance behaviours tend to increase anxiety and have a profoundly negative impact on your life.

WHAT DO THE EXPERTS SAY?

  • We all put off difficult tasks from time to time.

  • Relying on avoidance as a coping strategy is commonly associated with anxiety.

  • Avoidance is about focusing on a negative, undesirable outcome and how to stay away from it.

  • Avoidance behaviours never resolve the problem.

  • Unless tackled, avoidance can reap havoc on someone's life. Personal problems are likely to fester and grow.

  • Avoidance often causes more stress overtime, worsening an individual's anxiety.

  • There are a range of thinking biases contributing to avoidance, for example self doubt, fear. procrastination, perfectionism etc

  • The opposite of avoidance is 'active coping', where you reframe the problem at hand and address it directly.

WHAT CAN YOU DO ABOUT IT?

  • Therapy can be an effective treatment for anxiety. For example, CBT or talking therapy will help you to moderate your thinking style replacing irrational thoughts with rational ones. A therapist will seek to equip you with a range of useful self-help tools and techniques.

  • Try mindfulness meditation. Regular sessions will help you to recognise your own thought patterns and the effect they are having. By calming your emotions you will feel less threatened by stress.

  • Practise self-help. Recognise when you are avoiding something and tell yourself to stop. Reframe the situation and look at other more positive options to avoidance. Make steps to do some of the things you consciously avoid. Practise active coping.

  • Explain your avoidance tendencies to a close friend and ask them to help you take a different approach. Let them constructively challenge you when you avoid something difficult.

  • Use technology to hold you accountable. Use a diary, to-do-lists, task management and planning tools. Set reminders. Check out the long list of self-help Apps on Apple Store.

  • Get plenty of sleep. People are more likely to succumb to stress when they are tired and fatigued. When you are fully rested you are likely to be less sensitive to threats and fears.

  • Take regular cardio exercise with the goal of achieving at least 20 minutes per day for five days a week. Exercises relieves the symptoms of anxiety and builds your resilience to stress. A brisk walk, run or moderate to intense workout will do the trick.

HELPFUL READING
 

The Anxiety Toolkit

Dr Alice Boyes 2015

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Anxiety: Panicking about Panic: A powerful, self-help guide for those suffering from an Anxiety or Panic Disorder

Joshua Fletcher 2014

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The Worry Trick: How Your Brain Tricks You into Expecting the Worst and What You Can Do

David A Carbonell 2016

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