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Identifying signs of anxiety and avoidance.

Anxiety can bring on feelings of unease, worry, fear and nervousness. We all experience some form of anxiety at some point in life, which is usually brought on when focusing too much on the future and what may come. It helps if we are able to place our attention on what’s happening in the present moment. If we’re able to do this, then whatever comes will come in the present moment and therefore we’ll worry less about a particular outcome.

Remaining present can also help to identify signs of anxiety. If we’re thinking about the future it may be harder to notice what we’re experiencing in that moment.

Here are some common signs to help recognise anxiety:

  • Avoidance

  • Over thinking

  • Panic attacks

  • Stomach issues

  • Headaches

  • Trouble concentrating

  • Constant worrying

  • Lack of patience

  • Loss of appetite

Associating 'avoidance' with anxiety wasn’t something I was previously aware of. Through my work I’m able to listen to what clients say they do when feeling anxious. Some of us don’t always know when we’re suffering from anxiety - so the list above can help to identify this within ourselves if it’s something that’s often reoccurring.

When we’re avoiding something within us what do we do? What habits do we start to form?

Here are some examples of what we may do more of when we’re avoiding something that’s going on within us:

  • Eating more

  • Drinking more

  • More time on the phone/taking or scrolling

  • Watching more TV

  • Sleeping more

We may do less:

  • Journaling

  • Meditating

  • Walking

  • Less self-reflection

  • Less self-care

  • Less being present

  • Less eating

  • Less drinking

When we’re avoiding something within, we tend to pick up more unhelpful habits and drop the good ones.

Our patterns can change because something is stirring inside and we don’t always know what it is or how to address it, so by default we fill our minds with things that distract us. We don’t always realise when the change happens - it can be so subtle. Over time the initial change of unhelpful patterns can turn into long term forming habits which can be hard to break.

It may be helpful to recognise any triggers - notice when the anxiety occurs. What are you doing or thinking at the time.

Try to notice any patterns or early warning signals and the environment you’re in at the time. Notice your body and how it feels. Our bodies are natural indicators and they can reveal a lot to us.

Remember anxiety occurs when we are too focused on the future. Mindfulness practice and meditation can help with being in the here and now and placing our attention on what’s going on moment to moment.


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