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Topic: Anxiety - when is avoiding a situation a valid response - am i just giving up

2 posts, 0 answered
  1. Fearful14
    Fearful14 avatar
    3 posts
    12 July 2020

    Hi everyone - i am a consultant and have experienced increasing anxiety when it comes to working with groups or teams. This is only part of my job. When i find that i may “win” the work i have bid for, that involves groups or teams, i start to then wake every morning with sense of dread, sick in my stomach and the feeling of looming fear is with me all day. I start to try to flee (eg how do i get out of this work) or erratically seek other solutions (eg someone to do the work with me/co-present) but still the feelings remain.
    when I am doing the work, i am largely able to manage the stress/anxiety but the anticipatory aspect (which can go for weeks/months) is extremely difficult to manage and is impacting me a lot.

    So my question becomes, when is it “giving up” and the anxiety “winning”? Is it the right/best thing to work through the anxiety and increase our ability to manage it or are there times when we just accept it and avoid, wherever possible, the situations that trigger it?

    I am pressuring myself to learn through this, to be strong and successful when emotionally, all I want to do is run away and avoid ever doing this work (even though i value it and love the impact it can have for my clients).

    I would love to hear your insights and experiences.

    Thank you

  2. missep123
    Community Champion
    • Outstanding members who have volunteered their time to support others here on the forums
    missep123 avatar
    687 posts
    12 July 2020 in reply to Fearful14

    Hi Fearful14,

    I hear you. Anxiety can feel so overwhelming and can take over our personal and professional lives. I used to have really bad anticipation anxiety where I would find it hard to sleep the night before and I would ruminate over and over.

    The thing that has helped me is to realise what kind of negative automatic thoughts I was having in regards to the upcoming event i.e. 'I can't do this', 'I'm going to screw up' and do some thought challenging. For example finding evidence for and against that thought. What I tend to realise is that the evidence against that thought is way more believable or substantial than the list in support of it. For example in your case, you mentioned being able to manage the stress/anxiety when you are put into the situation so I would put that into the 'evidence against' category. It is good to think about the situations that were successful/that you were able to do it and observe how that feels in your body. This can be similar to 'finding your happy place'.

    Mindfulness/meditation is something that has also helped me. Mindfulness is the skill of being to let thoughts come and go and not be emotionally attached to them (i.e. dread, anxiety, stress). It can be a challenge but I always say it's just like going to the gym and building muscle. It takes time and practice. There are a lot of really great meditation/mindfulness videos on Youtube specifically for stress and anxiety.

    You mentioned trying to flee or 'erratically find other solutions'. These are very common anxiety responses. Anxiety tends to evoke the fight, flight, freeze response in us. A good step is to start to recognise when this is starting to happen and try to respond to it. For example when I can feel my heart beating a little bit quicker (from stress), and my breathing become shallower, I will start to take some deep breathes to try to calm my brain and remind myself what a more relaxed state feels like. I will then do something from my self-care routine e.g. make a cup of tea.

    I hope you might find these tips helpful! I can really relate to your anxiety. You're definitely not alone.

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