Exposure therapy is such a valuable component of anxiety recovery…but it certainly isn’t the only tool. And somehow, we haven't really talked about exposure therapy on the podcast yet! So today, I want to take a deep dive into all things exposure therapy for anxiety with you.
If you've been feeling lost, uncertain, or even intimidated by exposure therapy, this episode is for you, my friend! My goal here is to leave you feeling much more clear on how exposure therapy can work for you, rather than intimidating you. You won't want to miss all of the goodness I share in the full podcast episode! So let's get started on all things exposure therapy for anxiety.
Exposure Therapy for Anxiety: Do I Have to Do Exposures in Order to Recover?
What Is Exposure Therapy?
You probably hear people talk about using exposure therapy as a tool for anxiety recovery often, but let's talk about what exposure therapy actually is! Simply put, exposure therapy is all about facing fear, and the uncomfortable feelings and sensations that come along with that fear. So often, I think we tend to get caught up in the idea of "doing an exposure". For you, this might look like going to your mailbox, the grocery store, a crowded restaurant, you name it! But exposure isn't just about going to that place or doing the thing. It's about acknowledging and welcoming the fear, and allowing it to be present, regardless of where you are or what you're doing. I think it's important to highlight that exposure therapy isn't about a particular place or situation. Instead, it's all about facing fear with small, manageable steps, and learning to create a healthy relationship with it!
The 2 Most Important Components Of Anxiety Recovery
I believe there are two main components to anxiety recovery, and I want to share them with you! The first is exposure work because it allows our brains to form new, healthier connections and associations. And the second one is creating a healthy relationship with yourself. In all honesty, I think this second component doesn't get nearly enough attention! Becuase in order to effectively do exposure therapy, we need to create a healthy relationship with ourselves. This can look like so many things! But to me, it starts with learning how to care for and support yourself in a nurturing and kind way.
So many of us who struggle with anxiety, panic disorder, and agoraphobia also struggle to support ourselves. You might feel like you're not deserving of that support, or that you don't have time for it... but I want to remind you that you are always worthy of self-love and support. In fact, it's pretty necessary!
Creating a healthy relationship with yourself might look like...
Healing the things you've been running from
Setting boundaries with yourself and others
Learning to be vulnerable
Intentionally reducing stress
Do I Need To Do Exposures In Order To Recover From Anxiety?
You might be wondering... "Do I have to do exposures to recover from anxiety?" and the short answer is yes, you do! But I have to be honest for a second. When I was struggling with panic and agoraphobia, I never did traditional exposure therapy with a therapist. Instead, I focused on doing the things that mattered to me and letting panic and fear come along for the ride. And despite not exposing myself to fear every day, I still recovered from panic disorder and agoraphobia.
And I can tell you this - I’ve worked with many people who struggle with anxiety, panic, and agoraphobia and we didn’t put any focus on creating well-mapped out exposures, and they’ve recovered. I’ve also worked with many people who did the self-work and then creating a healthy relationship with anxiety became much easier and more enjoyable. I’ve also worked with people who I’ve created goals and plans with, and who have put quite a bit of emphasis on exposure therapy, and they’ve recovered. I’ve also worked with people who have done a combination of all this and have recovered.
So don't get sucked into the idea that exposure therapy has to look a certain way. Exposure therapy is helpful when you allow yourself to be a part of the process, when you listen to yourself, and you design it in a way that feels good to you.
No matter which path you take in your journey, exposing yourself to fear and discomfort is a necessary part of the anxiety recovery process. If you're looking for some extra support as you start to face some of these fears, my program, Panic to Peace, is an amazing place to start. In this 10-week program, I'll personally teach you all of the tips and tools you need to start creating a healthy relationship with anxiety, panic disorder, and agoraphobia. This program is designed to lead you to lots more peace, joy, and freedom, all with the support of me and a pretty awesome community!
Don't forget to listen to the full episode of wisdom and insights on all things exposure therapy for anxiety!
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