Exposure therapy is the gradual exposure to risky anxiety provoking situations so that you can become comfortable with them.
- Make a decision that you are going to take some risks. Make a commitment, write it down and give your word that you are going to follow through.
- Make a definite plan of exactly what you intend to do.
- Mentally prepare yourself for the worst outcome. From this starting point, anything that happens is going to be an improvement and an achievement. You should be good at this, the difference here being that you are doing this under your own control.
- As you are preparing, watch yourself for any negative self talk, hesitation or deliberate delaying tactics. Watch out for ‘I can’t do this’, ‘this is too difficult’ or ‘this is a bad idea’. Actively think about it as a good idea. Think about the future and how your life is going to change for the better. Think about what it will mean to you to overcome this period of anxiety.
- You are going to feel uncomfortable so prepare yourself for this.
- Go at your own speed but push it to your limits, as much as you can tolerate so that you still want to keep going.
- Practice the other techniques to help with your anxiety and any panic such as breathing, distraction, confidence building and positive self talk.
- Put yourself into the risk situation and don’t think about it, just do it. Step straight into it
- Afterwards, review what happened. How long did you give yourself, how did you feel. Write down your successful days, keep a diary of your progress. Congratulate yourself for all of your progress.
- Repeat the whole exposure therapy cycle on a regular basis. Make a habit of it. The important thing is, that if a setback happens, you keep going at the same pace and don’t break the routine.