As everyone with anxiety or panic disorder knows it can sometimes lead to agoraphobic tendencies. The worry has a way to infiltrate in to every aspect of your life creating unrealistic fears. This can make it difficult to break out of your comfort zone (whether it be your home, car or anywhere else).
To combat this there is nothing better than exposure therapy – that is to face your fears (and thus learn there is nothing to fear). This can be done in a variety of manners depending on the person but generally broken in to smaller steps to form a step ladder is a good approach.
I do this by going for walks among other things – with or without my dog. It can sometimes bring with it a variety of sensations from physical anxious symptoms to worrisome “what ifs”.
When this inevitably happens I answer with “Thanks mind. It’s okay.”, put my head down and continue on with my walk. The key to exposure therapy is to not give in to your mind and try escape the situation because it just re-enforces the fear is real to the amygdala.
The reason I like to concentrate on my immediate vicinity while walking is because much like our thoughts the past nor future don’t matter. All that matters is the present – in the case of walking my next step. I will sometimes glance up to see how far away the corner is but it need not matter when I get there as long as I am heading in the right direction.
This also applies to all aspects of your life. It doesn’t matter how far away your goals are whether they be cured of anxiety or buying a house – as long as you base your goals on your values and keep heading in the right direction you are already paving the way for happiness.
So next time you’re feeling down or hopeless and the end seem’s so far away remind yourself the future is just words and images in the mind and concentrate on the very next step you take.