How to Manage Anxiety with Exposure TherapyFeb 27, 2023
This is a story about a girl named Lily... (said in Britney's voice at the beginning of Lucky)
Once upon a time, there was a young woman named Lily who struggled with anxiety. She'd wake up every morning with a pit in her stomach, her mind racing with all the things she thought could go wrong in the day. Her anxiety loomed like a dark cloud that followed her wherever she went.
One day, Lily decided that enough was enough. Her anxiety invaded every area of her life and she was tired of letting it control her life. She was determined to find a way to overcome it. So, she did what any modern-day hero would do. She turned to the internet.
Lily spent hours scouring the web for tips and tricks to help her conquer her anxiety. She read articles, watched videos, and even listened to podcasts. She tried everything from meditation to journaling to cognitive-behavioral therapy. But while they all helped a little in their own way, nothing seemed to work.
Lily was about to give up hope when she stumbled upon a blog post that changed her life. The post was written by a woman who had struggled with anxiety for years but had found a way to overcome it. Her secret? Exposure therapy.
Now, exposure therapy may sound scary, but it's actually quite simple. The idea is to gradually expose yourself to the things that make you anxious until they no longer have the power to control you. So, for Lily, that meant exposing herself to situations that made her anxious, like public speaking or meeting new people.
At first, it was hard for Lily. She felt like she was walking into a lion's den every time she faced one of her fears. But over time, she started to notice a change. The things that used to make her anxious didn't have the same hold on her anymore. She felt more confident, more in control, and more like herself.
Now, let's not pretend exposure therapy is a magic wand - it's not a one-size-fits-all solution, and it's not the only cure for anxiety. But for Lily, alongside her other practices, it was the key to unlocking a life free from anxiet
So, what's the moral of the story?
1) You are not alone in your battle with anxiety. There are millions of people out there who struggle with the same thing. But there are also millions of people out there who have found a way to overcome it.
2) It may take some time, it may take some trial and error, but it is possible to improve your relationship with and experience of your anxiety.
3) Support yourself in having new experiences that help build confidence and change how you see yourself interacting with life.
If you'd like to start practicing exposure therapy yourself, here are 3 tips to get the ball rolling...
Tips for Pactising Exposure Therapy
Tip #1: Start small
When it comes to exposure therapy, it's important to start small. You don't want to overwhelm yourself with a situation that is too big to handle. Instead, start with something that makes you a little bit anxious, like making a phone call or talking to a (friendly) stranger. Once you've conquered that fear, you can move on to bigger and more challenging situations. Please remember to use your noggin and stay safe (i.e. don't jump into an actual lion's den).
Tip #2: Use relaxation techniques
Exposure therapy can be tough, so it's important to have some relaxation techniques in your toolkit. When you're feeling anxious, take deep breaths, or practice mindfulness. These techniques can help you stay calm and focused, even when you're facing your fears. Make your focus practicing regulating your nervous system (staying calm) while in situations that typically make you more anxious - this can help teach your body that you know how to handle what it thinks it can't.
Tip #3: Celebrate your victories
As you practice exposure therapy, it's important to celebrate your victories. Each time you conquer a fear, no matter how small, take a moment to celebrate. Give yourself a pat on the back, treat yourself to something nice (even something as small as a little chocolate can create a positive feedback loop that's encouraging to the body), or just take a moment to appreciate how far you've come.
Remember, exposure therapy is not a quick fix. It takes time, patience, and dedication. But with these tips and a willingness to face your fears, you can begin managing your anxiety and bring more freedom into your life.
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