Avoidance and depression can help each other in the worst way. When you are avoiding activities, it may be because you feel depressed.
When you are depressed, you may want to avoid activities. It can be difficult to get out of this cycle and tap into tools that are already within you.
Isolation, Depression and Avoidance
When you avoid while you are depressed, it can lead to isolation and a greater sense of loneliness. The less you connect with others, the more stories about yourself can turn negative. You may increase your fear of rejection and decrease your sense of belonging to the world.
Image of smiling mature woman looking at camera with big grin. Read More: Strategies To Ease Depression”
Though it can feel more productive to avoid events, relationships, and work; you may be increasing your depression and isolation, which can impact your mental health
Humans are social creatures even if you identify as introverted. Though you may recharge by yourself, feelings of connectedness and belonging are needed for survival.
During the pandemic, it has become normal to have family members, friends, and loved ones isolate. It’s been a mixed message because people have been physically isolating to promote safety within communities even when it can feel unsafe individually.
Though this has created gaps in socialization, it has been necessary for the overall health of societies.
Avoidant behavior or avoidance behavior that may have developed could include but is not limited to;
-not texting a friend back,
-not scheduling a dentist appointment,
-or putting off a deadline at work.
These small acts of avoidance or defiance can lead to depression symptoms, anxiety, or hurtful emotions. In some cases, consistent negative emotions, depression, and a depressive disorder can lead to suicide or suicidal thoughts. If you feel like you or a loved one is at risk, there is help available.
As COVID restrictions are lifted, avoidance is still practiced by many people, which may be a result of grief, trauma, and post traumatic stress disorder. To help connect back to the world again, it may mean that you take one step at a time.
You can develop a new behavior at any time, even when you have experienced a traumatic event. You do not need to rush into a situation if it doesn’t feel comfortable and avoiding every situation can lead to depression.
What small step can you take for yourself today?
Maybe, you take a walk around the block. You can also take a trip to the grocery store if you have been ordering groceries online the past couple of years.
Perfectionism, Procrastination and Avoidance
Avoiding tasks can also mean that you experience perfectionism. You may not be ready to face the truth of what is going on with you. It is easier to critique what others are doing or not doing.
Procrastination can stem from perfectionism. Accepting that you will make a mistake is helpful because this is uncharted territory. There is not a new normal that everyone can abide by right now because the old normal was no longer working.
This can bring up an uncomfortable feeling or mental health conditions like depression, anxiety, thoughts of suicide and more. There is no template for the current circumstance. It is being created by everyone simultaneously. This can be seen as empowering, terrifying, or a mixture of both.
Grief, Depression and Avoidance
Image of girl lying on couch face down. Read More: “4 Tips For Managing Depression When It’s Hard”
Grief can fill the gaps of missing routines. Since there is a collective grief right now, the result can be depression.
You are not making up the grief and depression.
There has been loneliness, fear, and new realizations on a daily basis.
Depression can be hardened with expectations that don’t match your reality.
Instead of forcing yourself to be someone else, do something deemed as important, or carry out actions that don’t match your beliefs; remember that waking up can be a victory.
The smallest steps can make the biggest impact in your life.
What would it feel like to drop your expectations?
How Do You Overcome Avoidance?
Whether you have been avoiding, feeling depression, or experiencing isolation; self-discipline can help. It is not a matter of doing everything at once; it’s a matter of doing something right now.
It only takes one action to help yourself go in a different direction.
For example, you can clean your sink as a first step to cleaning your entire bathroom. You don’t have to think about the end before you start at the beginning.
Goals are part of self-discipline, and you can think of the big picture too. However, small daily goals can be as impactful as the lofty attainable goals you set for yourself.
If you know that you want to take a vacation, the goal for today may be to save $5 rather than spend $5. This doesn’t have to be perfect; start at the beginning and see where it takes you.
Start small when you are ready to engage again. It’s okay to feel stressed and take care of yourself as you venture into overwhelm.
This may mean that you take a break, engage your senses, or do a breathing exercise.
Tackling Avoidance Can Help Depression
Any of these techniques can help improve your mood and alleviate physical symptoms of mental health conditions. This will not be perfect, and you are still worth the effort. You get the opportunity to re-examine your beliefs and values. You will make mistakes and you can still do this.
Image of a person sitting alone and negative thinking in a coffee shop. Depressed and thoughtful concept. Read More: “Common Questions About Depression Answered”
A mental disorder is not interchangeable with mental health issues, and a diagnosis from a professional therapist can help you choose the next right step for you.
Isolation can be debilitating. One of the most ironic parts of loneliness is that so many people feel it at the same time.
You don’t have to dive head first into anything, and the more you develop your self-discipline, the more strength you may feel.
You may have to make yourself keep a plan with a friend, take a walk, cook a meal, brush your teeth, etc. These are habits that can build self-discipline to help with depression, avoidance, and anxiety.
Normally behind an act of avoidance is a rebellious part of you that doesn’t want to make yourself do it. The healing lives in the paradox of that. Balancing the push and pull can be difficult, and every action starts with a very small step.
Reminding yourself that a depressive episode isn’t necessarily permanent can be helpful.
One negative thought or emotion doesn’t have to lead to avoidance and depression. You can empower yourself to choose differently in any situation.
There is help available, and isolation and depression don’t have to be felt alone. Clinical therapists, support groups, and recovery rooms can be considered when you are trying to get yourself unstuck.
Make a call to get therapy, do a Google search, and connect with a community that makes sense for you. You are worth it.
If you are worried about yours or someone you love’s safety in regards to suicide, for immediate assistance, reach out to Colorado Crisis Centers by calling 1-844-493-8255 to be connected to a crisis counselor or peer support.
Written by: Randi Thackeray, MA
Clinically Reviewed and Edited by: Julie Reichenberger, MA, LPC, ACS, ACC