Working Through Anxiety

Dr. Carol Chu-Peralta, Ph.D. 

Most of us experience worry and fear at some point in our lives, especially as we continue to navigate life’s uncertainties. However, when we begin to underestimate our coping abilities and overestimate the danger of a situation, anxiety can prevail and leave us feeling paralyzed.

When worry and fear feel insurmountable, it can mislead us into avoiding the activities we would like to engage in, or it can make us withdraw from people, even if we care deeply about them. Be cautious of using avoidance as a coping strategy. While it provides immediate relief by removing exposure to the anxiety-provoking situation, it also reinforces your fear of the situation. Each time we successfully avoid an anxiety-provoking situation, the relief we experience in that moment of avoidance serves as confirmation to our brain that we just survived/escaped a dangerous situation.

Believe it or not, anxiety is actually a useful emotion! It can serve to motivate us, such as when needing to study for a test or prepare for a job interview. It’s when there is a complete absence or excess of anxiety that it becomes life-interfering.

If you are considering reducing the intensity of your anxiety, I invite you to become more curious about the role anxiety plays in your life. Awareness is the first key step to anxiety reduction.

Now that you’ve put into perspective the value anxiety has had in your life, and how it might have interfered with your ability to engage in other things you value in life, perhaps you are considering making some changes. Below are some tips on cognitive and behavioral changes that can help you work through the anxiety.

Written By: Dr. Carol Chu-Peralta, Ph.D.
Published By: Park Ridge Living

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