The Most Effective Ways to Combat Psychological Avoidance

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According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), more than 40 cardinal adults successful the U.S. (19.1%) person dealt with an anxiousness upset successful the past year, making it the astir communal intelligence wellness information successful the country. And this fig lone takes into relationship those who sought assistance and received an authoritative diagnosis from a clinician—not the millions of others who are faced with mundane anxiety.

But according to Luana Marques, PhD, an subordinate prof of psychiatry astatine Harvard Medical School, it’s not anxiousness that’s holding america back: It’s however we respond to it. Many people, she says, respond to this benignant of accent with psychological avoidance. Here’s what to cognize astir intelligence avoidance, and however to combat it.

What is intelligence avoidance?

Psychological avoidance refers to erstwhile radical respond to a perceived menace successful a mode that makes them consciousness amended successful the moment, but ultimately, has antagonistic consequences.

According to Marques, who coined the term, 3 communal signs of intelligence avoidance are retreating, reacting, and remaining.

How to combat intelligence avoidance

In an article for CNBC Make It, Marques provides the pursuing strategies for dealing with the astir communal forms of intelligence avoidance:


We thin to deliberation successful presumption of “fight, flight, oregon freeze” erstwhile it comes to dealing with anxiety, but Marques says that retreating is simply a much subtle mentation of flight. This tin see things similar having a solid of vino (or a few) to temporarily flight from mundane stresses, oregon calling successful sick to debar giving a presumption astatine work.

Instead of retreating, Marques recommends identifying 1 of the thoughts oregon fears driving your anxiousness and asking yourself, “What information bash I person to backmost this up?” or, “What would my champion person accidental successful this situation?” “The empirical grounds you travel up with tin assistance propulsion you retired of that harmful mindset,” she says.


This involves responding to anxiousness with in-the-moment, knee-jerk reactions, similar flying disconnected the grip astatine a gathering if you consciousness attacked and privation to support yourself immediately. Marques suggests taking a measurement back—and a enactment (or a few)—before responding to the situation. “The archetypal measurement is to pause, past attack your discomfort alternatively than effort to destruct it,” she says.


This is the equivalent of the “freeze” anxiousness response. “It’s the inclination to enactment enactment successful uncomfortable situations, similar an unhealthy narration oregon a occupation that is mentally and physically draining,” Marques explains.

But alternatively of trying to person yourself that everything is good and normal, and volition yet get better, she says that it’s amended to “identify what genuinely matters to you and instrumentality 1 tiny measurement each time to determination successful that direction.”

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