The last installment of my four-part series on anxiety is exposure. We can see anxiety’s insidious effect on people by how it impairs our ability to behave by avoidance. When anxiety has its full grip on us, we end up avoiding things that we associate with anxious reactions. For example, if something happened at Walmart that put you in a panic, a natural inclination is to avoid going to Walmart for fear of reliving the anxiety.

    One way to prevent anxiety from making us avoid things is by exposure. Facing our fears by exposing ourselves to it can help desensitize us from the associated fear. This gives us the courage to do something we previously avoided.

    Gradual exposure is the ideal method. For starters, using the Walmart example, just imagine the anxiety that you think you will experience when you go to Walmart. Then, manage that anxiety. Next, go to the Walmart parking lot and drive off. Then manage that anxiety. Then, walk into a Walmart and walk out. After you manage that anxiety, you will be able to manage the anxiety associated with shopping in a Walmart.

    ​Managing anxiety by way of gradual exposure to something we are avoiding is a sure-fire way to eclipse anxiety’s grip on us.