2. Anxiety - Advice for managing anxiety

Topic Index

Slow and steady wins the race: Advice for managing anxiety

Healing doesn't happen in a day

Learning to manage anxiety can be overwhelming, so don't be afraid to break your goals up into small, achievable steps. Recovery isn't a straight line; it's a spiral. Setting one small goal and completing it is much better than overwhelming yourself and ending up more anxious than ever.

Kjetil Mellingenne is a specialist in cognitive behavioral therapy - a type of talk therapy that is often helpful for anxiety. On his YouTube channel, Mellingenne tells the story about one of his clients who, without warning, suddenly stopped coming in for her visits to his office. Surprised that she missed her appointment, the psychologist got on the phone and learned that she was too afraid to leave her home. Fortunately, her therapist knew how to help. Could she go outside at all? he asked. Even for a minute? Yes, the client said. She thought she could make it to her front step for a few minutes. Then go outside, stay for a few minutes, and then go back in, the psychologist told her. But don't rush yourself. Do the same thing ten or fifteen times before you try to stay outside any longer.

The client agreed, and after ten or fifteen short trips to her front porch, she was ready to stay outside a little longer and walk a bit farther. She reached her yard, then the front gate, repeating each achievement at least ten times before she set a new goal. With time and patience, Mellingenne's client was finally able to travel from her home to his office. She had conquered her fear.

Later, the psychologist explained that the reason he'd suggested such small steps was so his client could be sure she would succeed. If she had felt that one of his goals was too hard to reach, it might have made her anxiety stronger, and the setback could have made it even harder for her to leave home.

As you start on your path to healing, take a cue from Kjetil Mellingenne. Set goals you can reach, and reward yourself for succeeding. Don't be afraid to try new things. You aren't doomed to fail if something you try doesn't work.

Just try to set one goal that you know you can reach. And then celebrate your victory, no matter how small it is. You are getting your symptoms under control, one success at a time.