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  • Writer's pictureKathryn Harriss


A certain amount of anxiety and stress in our lives is healthy otherwise we wouldn’t feel motivated. When it starts to affect our day-to-day lives and feels paralysing, it’s not healthy.

We all engage in ‘safety behaviours’ (in Cognitive Behavioural speak) to protect ourselves from catastrophe. It is reasonable to avoid some situations where it is likely that we would be in danger. However, this can escalate to a point where we avoid particular situations because the very thought of it provokes a response in us that is disproportionate to the actual risk. The result is that of course, the ‘risk’ is avoided and we are kept safe. In turn, this confirms the belief that the safety behaviour is justified and therefore maintains the behaviour.

In counselling, we can work on ways to manage and reduce the anxiety but also explore its original cause. Often, understanding why we feel like we do is half the battle because we feel less out of control.

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