Choices that heighten anxiety. How to avoid them.

Here is the scenario: You’re already anxious about a meeting you have with your boss this afternoon at 1 o’clock. It’s now 8 a.m. and the intensity of your anxiety registers at a “3” on a scale of 1 – 10, where “10” is the most anxious you’ve ever felt. While this slight level of anxiety may seem harmless in the moment, consider the choices you might make over the course of the morning that could heighten your anxiety, such as the following:

  • At 10 o’clock, despite the butterflies you feel in your stomach about the upcoming meeting with your boss, you accept a call from an acquaintance whom you know causes you stress. The byproduct of making this decision is that it increases your anxiety to a level 4.
  • At 11 o’clock, you agree to see a customer during your lunch hour because they seem upset. The byproduct of making this decision is that it increases your anxiety to a level 5.
  • By 1 o’clock, your anxiety registers at a level 6, and you now have a headache; distracting you from fully engaging in the conversation with your boss.

The message here is clear. When you’re already feeling anxious, making choices that have the potential to heighten emotion act like the last few grains of sand that finally cause the sand pile to collapse. In other words, choosing to engage in potentially stressful situations that are non-essential, when you’re already distressed, place you at risk for becoming emotionally overwhelmed.

To prevent this, when feeling anxious, you might set an intention to momentarily pause and reflect upon the possible outcomes of each of your choices before taking any action. These brief moments in time can have the cumulative effect of increasing your awareness of the choices you are better off avoiding.

Written by Tony Madril

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