How to Stop Avoiding and Start Living : FACE Your Fears

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Welcome back to the third, and final installment of the How to Stop Avoiding and Start Living series! If you have not already reviewed the first and second installments, I recommend that you give them a read.

Today we are going to talk about a popular approach to reducing avoidance and anxiety known as F.A.C.E.

F.A.C.E.

This acronym stands for:

How to Stop Avoiding and Start Living : FACE Your Fears

Find and Identify Your Goal

One reason why we might avoid meaningful experiences is that we don’t have well-defined goals. Without aspirations, it can be tempting to fall into a pattern of simply avoiding anything that makes us feel stressed. While this may feel better in the short term, ultimately this can cause more stress/anxiety and keep us from living a rich and fulfilling life.

It can be useful to write down a few goals. Some examples might include:

  • Spend more time with friends
  • Getting some physical exercise
  • Engaging in a meaningful hobby
  • Apply for a new job
  • Catch up on school work
  • Attend a social gathering or networking event
  • Go on a hike
  • Ask your crush out on a date

These are only a few examples of activities which may cause some stress/anxiety, but could potentially increase your overall wellbeing.

Action to Take

Next, it is important to outline which specific actions are necessary in order to achieve these life-enhancing goals.

Let’s take the example of catching up on schoolwork (something I struggled with for years). Here are some specific actions to take that could help in achieving this goal:

  • Scheduling a specific time and place to complete the schoolwork
  • Limiting any distractions
  • Creating a checklist for individual assignments and readings
  • Getting out of bed earlier than normal
  • Committing to finishing checklist items once you have started

As you can see, these are all fairly straightforward and simple objectives. If, however, you are prone to feeling anxious about these sorts of tasks, then it may be tempting to avoid them altogether.

So how, then, do we stop avoiding and ‘power through’? This is where coping strategies can be helpful.

Coping Strategies

There are many different strategies for coping with stress and anxiety. For a more in-depth look at some helpful coping skills, I recommend reviewing the 2nd part of this series (insert link).

Some helpful coping strategies include:

  • Taking several slow, deep breaths
  • Listening to relaxing music (when possible)
  • Challenging negative/unhelpful thoughts (more about that here)
  • Taking short ‘mindfulness breaks’ to focus on bodily sensations
  • Make a list of reasons for and against completing the activity

It is important to note that, whichever coping strategies you may use, being able to face anxiety and stress head-on will likely become easier as time goes by.

Evaluate

Finally, it is always important to take the time to truly evaluate your progress in confronting avoidance and taking action to achieve your goals. It can be useful to keep a journal or planner, in which you keep track of avoidance behaviors vs facing anxiety.

Additionally, reflecting on what you have faced can provide positive reinforcement to continue engaging in life-enhancing experiences and reduce the temptation to avoid in the future.

Save For Later

how to stop avoiding and start living, part 3: FACE your fears

Further Reading

Over To You

Give this a try and let us know how it went in the comments!

James Voss, MA, LMHCA

[email protected]

James is a mental health counselor, specializing in the treatment of anxiety, depression, and substance use related issues. James emphasizes the therapeutic relationship with his clients and uses a wide range of techniques to help reduce distress and foster psychological flexibility.

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