Weekly Tools, Tips, and Thoughts from your Therapist

How to Avoid an Anxiety Breakdown by Breaking it Down

Updated: Jan 18

One small step for you, one giant leap for your anxiety


No one climbs a mountain in a single step, rather they take lots of manageable steps one after another until they reach the summit. In the same way, anxiety can be broken down into manageable steps to help reduce the symptoms and reach your summit.


Before you start breaking down your anxiousness into steps, you need clarity around what it is that is creating those feelings. In the last blog post, I outlined 5 Ways to Pinpoint Your Anxiety - check that out if you haven't already as it will be the foundation for the steps below.


Start by thinking about what your anxiety is holding you back from that you want to be able to do. Maybe it is speaking up in a group situation, making a new friend, or getting started on a dream or goal that you have. Try and clarify it into a simple sentence: I want to be able to _________.


Now that you have got that clarity, I want you to use your imagination. I know it sounds strange, but this is a crucial step. Close your eyes and imagine the scenario of you successfully achieving that sentence. Imagine it in detail - so if it is speaking in that group situation, who would be there? Picture their faces and their reactions to what you are saying. Let the emotions of that imagination fill you too, do you feel confident? Do you feel peaceful? Is there a feeling of triumph? What would you be thinking? I smashed that presentation. I feel confident in front of my colleagues.


So now you have got that clear image in your mind, I want you to consider it done and to begin to identify the steps it took to get there, working backwards from there. It sounds strange but it is amazing how much inner knowledge we have about this sort of thing. If it was speaking in front of a group, what did you do to prepare for that speech? Did you make sure you had a good night sleep? Did you write the speech the week before? Was it a topic that you knew so well that you did not need to rehearse? What about the people in that room - did you build strong relationships with them before this speech so that you trusted them, and they believed in you?


Whatever your situation is, begin to break down each step into smaller and smaller steps, manageable steps so that you are not having to leap up that mountain! With every task there is a way of breaking it down into smaller parts - one of the small steps I took to write this blog post was picking the topic - I did that about two weeks ago, that was my step one. Maybe today's step one for you is putting your hand up in that group and asking a question, maybe it is smaller, like just being present in that group. Whatever your goals, remember that no human can leap up a mountain and you are not weak or silly for taking small steps, you are human too and you are a courageous mountaineer.


Good luck!

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