What is Recovery?
Recovery from anxiety is about active coping rather than passive adjustment – moving from withdrawal to engagement. Recovery involves the development of new meaning and purpose in one’s life, as you grow beyond the debilitating affects of anxiety and fear.
The Recovery Contract
The Anxiety Care learning contract for recovery consists of two elements:
It isn’t for everyone. Recovery differs among people. For success, you need to be clear about what you want to change and how better off you’ll be if you overcome your anxiety problem. The most important principle is being committed to a recovery program as a priority in your life.
You have to be prepared to tolerate some discomfort and actively participate in your recovery plan, including doing a fair amount of homework and self-monitoring on your anxiety problem. At the end of the day, your degree of recovery will depend on how much time, effort and commitment you are willing to spend on your problem.
A person cannot just simply decide not to be anxious anymore.
A process of physical realignment and reconditioning of the autonomic nervous system (the fear response – see related pamphlet) is usually required in order for recovery to occur. Once the habit of anxiety has set in, it takes time to reset the body’s survival mechanism to a normal level where anxiety is not so close to the flight or fight or full panic response.
Firstly, recovery is about understanding physiologically what is happening to you. Awareness of this is vital. Secondly, recovery is about reclaiming your sense of safety, by conceptualising the threat, preparing for it, and then confronting the feared situation in a structured and controlled way – graded self-exposure.
Self-Exposure is a reliable and well-proven method that allows a client, through practice, an opportunity to develop more appropriate ways of coping with anxiety, other than using avoidance
Facing your Fear
Your fear may be too awful to think about, however, until the threat is grasped intellectually and an immediate appraisal of its size and the resources you have to deal with it is grasped, little can be done to overcome it. Overcoming anticipatory anxiety is one of the Key elements to recovery because as humans, we have a predisposition to ‘over-predict’ events and anticipate the worst outcome.
Anxiety Care’s assumption is that people can help themselves if they were channelled a bit better. We teach a self-help model that enables a person to do this, as well as learn how to cope with anxiety and overcome it. Coping with anxiety is a skill and like any skill, it requires practice and effort to learn it and then to master it.
Research shows that most sufferers are able to undertake self-exposure work without the help of a professional therapist, although having the help of someone such as a trained Anxiety Care UK recovery support worker can help immensely. The good news is that people, who lose their anxiety, usually benefit in other areas of their lives once they are freed from their fears.
The work of recovery will involve the following aspects:
- Understanding and education (dispelling myths about anxiety)
- Learning the necessary skills to tolerate and cope with anxiety
- Challenging unhelpful thinking
- Evaluating bodily symptoms realistically
- Facing the fear – graded self -exposure tasks
- Putting all the above into practice.