Recovering from anxiety takes a lot of courage, patience and most importantly willingness to learn from mistakes. Why does it take willingness to learn from mistakes you may ask? If you’re approaching recovery from a cognitive-behavioral perspective and trying to process it through exposure, you know that there’re a lot of mental and behavioral patterns that keep fueling your anxiety and keep you stuck in the cycle of fear.
My own recovery came as a result of exposure, a lot of exposure. But I also made a lot of mistakes that I don’t want you to repeat. Hopefully, it makes your journey to recovery even shorter. In this article I want to give you top 5 mistakes that people make when recovering from anxiety.
Not following the plan
Most therapists/coaches provide their clients with a recovery plan, which must be followed in order to see progress. Based on my experience, most of the people I worked with, at some point in their recovery stopped following the plan once they reached some comfort level. Inevitably, that lead to return of anxiety, which made them contact me again for further guidance. As a rule of thumb, I always suggest people to monitor the way they react to anxiety. If they still fear that it might return, then they haven’t fully processed it. So the best practice is to keep following the recovery plan until fear of anxiety goes completely. Note that I said fear of anxiety, not fear of situations associated with anxiety, because it’s okay to feel healthy levels of anxiety in everyday life.
Working with a few therapists/coaches at the same time
If you’re already following one method then stick to it. Following a few methods at the same time will result in more confusion for you and will prevent the person helping you with anxiety to effectively deal with it. So it might seem like a good idea because you get more support but in reality you only prolong your recovery. Laser focusing on one method will yield you best results.
Going to anxiety forums
When you feel down, it’s very tempting to seek reassurance and go to one of the anxiety forums where people talk about their symptoms and how bad it feels to live with anxiety. Unfortunately, at best, these forums will give you reassurance, but most of the time they will give you more symptoms to worry about or even convince you that recovery is impossible. Reassurance might seem like a nice thing to have, but it’s best to feed your brain with the type of reassurance that you can recover, rather than that the symptoms you have are common among other people.
The first and biggest mistake every anxiety suffer makes is they try to fight symptoms in order to feel better. This turns into a battle full of frustration and disappointment. People try different diets, supplements, exercises etc. to alleviate the symptoms but after some time, symptoms come back. The reason for that it because when you try to fight symptoms, you’re trying to deal with the effect while completely ignoring the cause, which is high level of anxiety. CBT practices are by far the best way to reduce the level of anxiety. You can either consult your therapist/coach about them or even get a CBT book from Amazon and start practicing them yourself.
Talking about anxiety to everyone
When my anxiety was high, I constantly talked to my friends about the way I felt. It got to the point where they just felt annoyed by being with me. Looking back, I completely understand them because I tried to seek help where it wasn’t existent. None of my friends knew how to help me with my anxiety and by obsessively talking about it, I both, damaged my relationship with them and most importantly, constantly sent signal to my brain that there is something wrong with me. That signal was more than enough to keep my anxiety level at an all-time high throughout the day. The moment I stopped talking to my friends about my anxiety is the moment I started seeking help where it was offered and eventually managed to end my anxiety disorder for good.
There are many more subtle and obvious mistakes that keep anxiety level high but these were the most common ones and if addressed, could bring a lot more peace into your life. No matter what happens though, always remember that recovery is all about being completely honest with yourself and the people that try to help you through this journey.
I’m a self-recovered anxiety disorder sufferer trying to teach others how anxiety works. f you’re interested in 1-on-1 anxiety coaching with me, feel free to visit my coaching page.