Avoidance: Helpful in a Moment, Harmful to Mental Health

Here's what's happening on the HealthyPlace site this week:

Avoidance is normal but the problem with avoiding unpleasant confrontations, memories or emotions is that it creates a new set of mental health problems. Read this.

Avoidance: Helpful in a Moment, Harmful to Mental Health

Avoidance is a normal human behavior, a coping skill to deal with difficult situations. Avoiding unpleasant people, places, memories, circumstances, confrontations, thoughts, and emotions makes sense because it’s a self-preservation tactic. The problem with using avoidance behaviors, though, is that it quickly changes from a solution to an entirely new problem.

If you are the type to circumvent problems, you’re not a terrible person for doing so. You’re doing what feels right to preserve your mental health. Unfortunately, avoidance could be harming your mental health and wellbeing.

Trying to escape obstacles around us can lead to:

The instinct to avoid things that make us anxious is strong and hard to overcome—hard, but not impossible. The first step to breaking out of the avoidance trap is to shift your thinking. Instead of focusing on avoiding what you don’t want, think of moving toward what you do want. Be clear about what you want and why you want it, then make plans to get there despite anxiety.

Avoidance is an automatic response. You are strong enough to override that harmful response and take back your mental health.

Related Articles Dealing with Avoidance

Your Thoughts

Today's Question: What role does your mental health play in avoidance behaviors? We invite you to participate by sharing your thoughts, experiences, and knowledge on the HealthyPlace Facebook page and on the HealthyPlace Google+ page.

From the HealthyPlace Mental Health Blogs

On all our blogs, your comments and observations are welcomed.

Feel free to share your thoughts and comments at the bottom of any blog post. And visit the mental health blogs homepage for the latest posts.


From HealthyPlace YouTube Channel

I'm Hannah. I Have Bipolar 2

Ways to Improve Your Life with Bipolar Disorder

It is unfortunate that many people living with bipolar disorder think a good or even decent life is unattainable. We hear about the ways our lives will be negatively affected by bipolar disorder but little about the ways to improve our lives. In this video, I share my own personal experience living with bipolar 2 disorder and some of the ways to improve your life. (Watch Hannah)


Most Popular HealthyPlace Articles Shared by Facebook Fans

Here are the top 3 mental health articles HealthyPlace Facebook fans are recommending you read:

  1. Get Help for Schizoaffective Disorder: Running vs Walking
  2. Do You Need Therapy for Anxiety? Decide Using this Checklist
  3. How to Cope with Stress and Depression

If you're not already, I hope you'll join us/like us on Facebook too. There are a lot of wonderful, supportive people there.


Mental Health Quote

"Those who suffer from mental illness are stronger than you think. We must fight to go to work, care for our families, be there for our friends, and act "normal" while battling unimaginable pain."

Read more mental illness stigma quote.


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APA Reference
Peterson, T. (2018, June 18). Avoidance: Helpful in a Moment, Harmful to Mental Health, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, June 19 from

Last Updated: June 19, 2018

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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