Avoidance helps with Anxiety?

Avoidance is one of the primary symptoms of people with anxiety disorders. Avoidance is the way the individual copes when they perceive threats in their situation, which reduces their anxiety and distress. There are positive outcomes; however, is it healthy to cope with anxiety by avoiding it? Avoidance coping includes avoiding situations, people, interactions, objects, places, thinking, or feeling. This coping is more of an escape, so the person doesn’t feel anxious or distressed. Ignoring, denying, procrastinating, canceling plans, or using substances are all avoidance-focused coping strategies. It is natural for us to avoid situations that cause distress and discomfort. Avoidance can be easily used to cope with anxiety or stressful situations.

Is Avoidance coping unhealthy?

Stress and threats are inevitable in life; avoiding them is not a healthy way of coping because it can reinforce, worsen, and provide short-term relief. The person is never equipped with the necessary things that are required to deal with the stress or anxious situation. For example, if an individual is stressed out, they might avoid doing or thinking about it by escaping or spending their time on unnecessary things. We think there is relief, but in the end, it causes even more stress. The stress piles up, making the person even more overwhelmed.

Avoidance creates more anxiety and doesn’t solve any problems. Habitual use of avoidance can cause conflicts in relationships and reduce social support as it causes distress for people around the person.

Situations in which avoidance coping can be healthy

It is essential for people to know the difference between healthy and unhealthy ways of coping. For example, avoiding toxic people for your mental peace is seen as a healthy way of coping. Here are a few more situations where the person can use avoidance to cope with the situation.

  • Substance abuse
  • Harmful, abusive, or toxic people
  • Dangerous places
  • Physical strain
  • Overworking or too much stress

How can you stop using avoidance coping?

Identify the source of the problem.

Difficult emotions like stress, anger, and anxiety are indicators that something is not right, and to deal with these emotions, it is essential to use coping skills that will address the matter. Ask yourself questions to identify the root cause of the problem.

  • What is causing the intense distress?
  • What are the situations that are causing anxiety?
  • Why am I feeling this way?

Recognize the times you are being avoidant.

It is natural for us to deny or avoid something when overwhelmed by a situation. Ask yourself how you are responding to these situations. Ask yourself: Is coping through avoidance healthy or unhealthy? In some situations, avoidance is a positive coping skill, but in others it is not.

Practice positive coping styles.

  • Emotional-based coping: journaling, using relaxation techniques, mindfulness, prayer, and mediation.
  • Problem-solving coping: taking responsibility, listing the possible things you can do, and prioritizing.
  • Seeking social support

Expose yourself to fearful situations gradually.

You can gradually try to face your fear with the help of a therapist or observe others who handle the fear well.

Focus on the problematic things that are within your control.

When things seem out of control, it is common to avoid and disconnect from the situation. This can cause hopelessness even about the things that are within control. Identify and make a list of things that are within and out of control, which can help you manage the negative feeling.

Using avoidance overly can highly reinforce anxiety and depression. Active coping skills and approaches can help the individual adapt alternative ways to deal with the cause and situation to enhance their overall well-being.




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