Exposure therapy is the most used form of therapy for anxiety. If you feel yourself getting anxious. DO NOT LEAVE. When I talk about forcing myself to do things I am giving myself exposure therapy. Now when I say if you’re feeling anxious don’t leave, I mean at the height of your anxiety don’t leave. You need to give yourself time you calm down. Even if you go from 10 to a 9. Leaving means your anxiety goes, and this instils to your brain that if I leave the anxiety goes and it’s likely to worsen the situation. If you stay the anxiety will also lessen, because the fact is you can only stay in an anxious state for so long. You’re body has to tap out. Does it suck? Absolutely! But just see if you can get yourself that slightly bit less anxious. Breath. Stay present. There are lots of techniques to use when you feel as though you’re about to lose it. Find one that works for you. Stress test it and then force yourself into a situation that causes you anxious and let yourself stay until you feel one tenth less anxiety. And repeat. This is a simple premise to how you create habits.
I recently participated in a seminar where I had to do a speech. And by recently I mean yesterday. I know that I could give a speech to a bunch of people sitting down in a relaxed environment. No problem. I have no issue speaking up in large groups ( I feel myself being anxious, but I’m able to not let this show externally , something I have worked extremely hard on). As soon as I heard public speaking yesterday, that thought of standing up in front a room full of people. I could feel instantly my heart and breathing, which only expatiates the situation. I didn’t have time to run through exercises as it was kind of sprung on me. I got up, got so nervous, lost my train of thought, got more nervous. It was probably the worse public speaking I have ever done. I will say I had no preparation and this is the one thing that I know calms me. Did I want to leave? Yes. Did I want to find an excuse so I didn’t have to participate? Yes. Was I terrified about having this experience in front of my peers? Yes. Did I do it anyway? Yes! Never be hard on yourself, it’s a growing experience. Even if everyone else thought I did poorly, to me I did so well for that situation because I completely froze up the moment public speaking was mentioned. Anything that forces us to grown and learn is amazing for you as a person even if it feels pretty crap at the time. It’s so true how you should do things that scare you, it’s exposure therapy. Given I’d forgotten how much this terrifies me, because I haven’t had to be in a situation like this in so long I’m going to look into putting myself into these situations more. And I have one in 2 weeks, hopefully because I’ll actually be prepared and therefore be able to breathe.