Next time a friend asks if you want to catch a movie don’t make up an excuse to stay home and “do nothing”. Think of it as an opportunity – an opportunity to chip away at anxiety and build a new life.
I know what it’s like every time you hear the dreaded words of an invite. An invite with a friend, or an invite to a social gathering.. to an anxious person they all create the same response – fear.
But next time you receive an invite, after the initial bout of fear of course.. try to reframe it and think of it as an opportunity because opportunity is a positive thing. The opportunity is to expose yourself to something you fear to retrain the amygdala that there is nothing to be afraid of.
The key to exposure therapy is to do it lots and do it often. This is why we must take every opportunity we can to chip away at the beast that is anxiety. As we know frequency builds momentum and there is no greater force than momentum. Momentum is the key to “curing” an anxiety disorder.
Going to stay home and eat a microwave meal? nope, go out to dinner with a friend or partner once a week. Going to skip a movie and wait until it comes out on DVD or the Internet? nope, go see the movie at the cinema. Going to put off shopping for an item you need but isn’t urgent? nope, go to the mall and grab it.
Take a moment to sit on the bench and relax.. just breathe deeply in and out – a kind of public mindful meditation and take in the atmosphere. Don’t be in a hurry to get home – allow your comfort level to rise and your anxiety level to decrease and don’t leave until you can say to yourself “okay, let’s go now”.
As you gain confidence branch further out of your comfort zone. Go to the next mall over, go to the cinema in the next town. Don’t think of it as an inconvenience – think of it as an opportunity for growth.