Anxiety is an extreme form of worry. You can’t help it most of the time, even if you know that feeling the way you do doesn’t really help. What’s even more concerning about it is that oftentimes, the coping strategies presented for it actually tend to intensify the feeling that the situation causing the anxiety appears hopeless.

So what are the coping strategies that a lot of people turn to, but do not actually help one bit? Five of them are rounded up below.

1. Running away from it

The propensity to avoid situations that cause anxiety only makes the fear of feeling that way intensify. One tried and true anxiety treatment is learning to overcome situations despite the anxious feelings. Conquering such situations lays down a solid idea that it is possible to do what you’re supposed to even if you experience all the sensations of anxiety. In the future, you’ll actually feel much braver because you know that something you did before worked.

2. Denying it.

Just because you say you don’t feel it doesn’t mean it’s not there. Over time, it will come out and you may just end up scaring the people around you. Denying it will prevent you from getting the help you need.

3. Acknowledging it and feeling sorry for it.

Anxiety is not really something to apologise for; it’s the problem of other people if they do not understand how debilitating it is. Don’t apologise for it because that’s just going to make you feel worse. Anxiety is something that’s hard to control; that’s why a lot of people turn to professional help. Instead, come into terms with it, and find out the true effective ways to outwork it.

4. Thinking about it too much.

Thinking of all the potential reasons why you’re feeling the way you do and connecting every situation to these reasons will just make you prone to cognitive distortions, which will increase your worry and anxiety. When you find yourself indulging in exaggerated thoughts, take a step back and chill, and then very casually put your thoughts on trial to challenge their accuracy. If you can’t come up with any accurate answer, it only means one thing: You have to stop because only the future can reveal the answers, not you.

5. Predicting how anxiety will occur in the future.

Some people say they do this to be prepared, but basically all they do is scare themselves even more. As such, they avoid all sorts of situations. Doing this can make your world so much smaller—you’re allowing anxiety to rule your life.

Now that you know some coping strategies that actually do more harm than good, it’s time to explore, learn and try what would really work in treating anxiety.

If you need to develop effective anxiety coping strategies, search our national directory of counsellors and psychotherapists that specialise in anxiety issues.