Three Common Anxiety Traps And How To Avoid Them

We all experience some measure of anxiety, but some people have it worse than others. In fact, the problem can be so severe, it actually becomes paralyzing. Alice Boyes, author of “The Anxiety Toolkit,” recommends fine-tuning your mind to climb out of these debilitating traps. According to Boyes, “You’re learning how to work with your own hardware and software in the most effective way.”

She offers the following advice on escaping three of the most common traps:

1. You hesitate to act until you’re 100-percent ready: A large part of anxiety is having an intolerance of uncertainty—as in considering many ideas without ever trying any of them.

Free yourself: Anxiety-prone people tend to focus on the worst possible outcomes. To remedy this, identify the worst, best and most realistic things that could happen. By acknowledging the opportunities and risks, you’ll feel safer when making a move.

2. You obsess about mistakes: Over-thinking past missteps—meaning you’re replaying them again and again in your mind—is called ruminating, and it can leave you tangled up in knots.

Free yourself: To escape the cycle, come up with concrete steps for moving forward. Start by jotting down three possible actions you can take now.

3. You dread criticism: Anxious people often go out of their way to avoid feedback because they already judge themselves harshly, and criticism from the outside is especially upsetting.

Free yourself: Try acting relaxed when you get a review. Even though you may feel crushed or defensive, send physical signals that you’re appreciative. Drop your shoulders, lift your head and relax your hands. Your feelings and thoughts will quickly catch up with your nonverbal cues.