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Why you shouldn't immediately use coping skills for anxiety

Yep, you read that right.

Coping skills are often used when you're feeling high anxiety levels as a way to reduce or get rid of the intense emotion. Although this is well intentioned, and likely this school of thought has been encouraged, but going right to coping skills when you're anxious could do more harm than good.

Let me explain...

By rushing right to a coping skill, you may be giving your brain the message that there is danger. That this a significant event, and that you can't tolerate the anxiety without doing something.

Your brain may also get the message that "this experience must be something that is dangerous, otherwise I wouldn't be trying to get away from it. Let me remember that for next time!"

Now because of this, coping skills may reinforce your anxiety, making you more susceptible to feeling this way (and feeling it more intensely) in the future.

Instead, consider allowing yourself to sit with the discomfort. Sometimes, when we try to make our anxiety go away, it ramps up instead. By adopting a coping skill, we tell our brains that something is wrong.

Next time you feel anxious, allow yourself to sit with that discomfort while continuing to move forward with your goals, values, activities, and life. This will show your brain that you can feel the intense emotion and persist even though you feel uncomfortable. By gently suggesting to yourself that this anxiety provoking situation is a non-issue or a non-event, your brain will eventually come to understand that it no longer needs to send out it's "threat signals".

As long as the goal is to get anxiety to disappear, it will likely continue to get louder and louder. Instead, try letting yourself feel the discomfort so you can learn that you're capable of tolerating it.

If you would like a self-taught resource to reduce your stress and anxiety, check out my online course. Click the link below for all the information you need.

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