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What the heck is avoidance? Well, let’s say you have a project due for school in two days and it’s stressing you out.
You know you need to work on it today, but you find yourself playing a game instead.
You know this project will take at least a couple of hours, but there are other things that are more fun and help you forget about the stress.
The closer you get to the due date, the more stressed out you become. Not facing the stress or problem is part of avoidance behavior. Avoidance is the one habit most people with depression experience on a regular basis.
Avoidance is the body’s natural response to stress.
If you have a mindset that you want to do as little as possible, everything seems like a drag. So, for those who are depressed, many activities can be seen as threats. People can become trapped in a cycle of inactivity. Previously easy tasks become more difficult to complete and their routine seems insurmountable. The spiral of depression takes hold.
With depression, avoidance can feel good – so what’s wrong with it?
Avoidance doesn’t help solve problems or improve mood. Instead, it keeps those problems alive, because you aren’t facing them. If you lose a relationship, you might try to avoid sadness but it keeps you from grieving. Or maybe you have a stack of bills that you let pile up because of your anxiety of looking through them and having to pay them. It can make it much more difficult to go through them later when your balances have escalated, adding to your
anxiety or depression.
How do you know if your behavior is really avoidance?
- What are the circumstances when the behavior occurs?
- Are you searching for a temporary escape from feelings or an uncomfortable situation?
- Is what you’re doing – helping or not helping – or even worsening your depression?
Avoidance behavior patterns are difficult to break, especially during an episode of depression.
We can help you shift your thinking and behavior. It’s essential to shift to how much can I accomplish (with boundaries and self-care habits)? Versus, how little can I do today? We know it’s challenging, but a roadmap exists.