Stop avoiding anxiety-provoking situations and start managing your anxiety better


If you find yourself feeling stressed just imagining situations where you are most likely to feel anxious and you habitually avoid them, you are denying yourself the opportunity to gain a better understanding of and learn effective strategies to deal with anxiety-provoking situations.

Take a moment and think about situations that make you feel the most anxious:

Predict – When you imagine yourself in anxiety-provoking situations, what do you think might happen? How do you think you might handle them? What do you predict might happen because of how you react in these situations?

You can use our template to write down your responses in the predict column, or just record the details below:

Prepare – Now ask yourself: What can I do when the situation occurs? How can I best prepare myself? Use this time to prepare your coping skills and address unhelpful thinking patterns and to learn mindfulness, relaxation and grounding techniques, or deep breathing and other strategies to help you to endure this experience and to even have fun.

What techniques do you already use to deal with these situations? What do you think you still need to learn or what areas are still difficult to deal with? Write them down: 

Practise  It is important to practise new skills and try out coping skills prior to facing anxiety-provoking situations. In other words, it is important to come prepared. You can practise with the person you trust, role-playing the situations to see what approach might suit you the best. Start by imagining that you can cope, and that you did cope in a situation that previously frightened you. Do not just leave it up to chance and hope that you might be lucky and will not feel anxious any more. Select where, how and with whom you will practise your new skills and ways of managing your anxiety.

Where, when and with whom you will practise new skills that help you manage your anxiety more effectively? Write it down:


No one will talk to me. I can talk to people; I don’t have to wait for people to talk to me. I know some people at this party and can talk to them. I can role-play what I am going to do in a counselling session.
I will feel like a loser. I am aware of my unhelpful thinking. I will identify self-defeating thoughts, and will acknowledge them, and use thought diffusion techniques.
I might have a panic attack. I will remind myself that I am taking active steps to overcome my fears and feelings of awkwardness. I will praise myself for being courageous and not letting anxiety control what I do. I will practise progressive muscle relaxation and mindfulness daily. I will use grounding exercises to help me to deal with these situations.
I will regret coming. I will practise my breathing. I will do grounding exercises (five-sense exercise). I will remind myself not to overanalyse my physical sensations. This feeling will pass, as it is only temporary. I will practise positive coping statements to help me to get through the night. I will learn to focus on achievements and my courage.
I will hate myself for it. I will remind myself that every time I go out socially I am taking active steps to overcome my fears. The more I practise the easier it gets.Even if it is not going to be 100% successful, I am doing well working on overcoming this issue. I will practise letting go of being ‘perfect’ and having everything done right straight away. I will use this opportunity to identify what went wrong and what other skills I should learn to better deal with such situations in the future.

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Posted September 6, 2014 by Yuliya Richard.

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