Make a Decision.
For many of my clients, especially those with a history of IBS and chronic dieting, a decision as simple as "what to eat" can lead to a downward spiral of worry, frustration, and self-destruction. According to neuroscientist Alex Korb, habitual indecision is a major cause of anxiety that affects your mood, thoughts, and actions. Overthinking often leads to mental exhaustion and decreased productivity. In my experience, decisiveness is also one of the biggest challenges and crucial first steps toward positive behavior change. Lurking beneath the surface of indecision is fear, fear of the unknown and fear of failure. Both of which get in the way of happiness and confidence. Decision making can therefore be a simple yet powerful tool to decrease anxiety, and increase productivity and empowerment. If you struggle with decision-making try these simple steps to decisiveness:
- Reduce your options. Less is more when it comes to decisiveness. Having too many options can be overwhelming and anxiety-provoking. Limiting your options to as few choices as possible makes it easier to decide. Making a decision calms your mind and frees mental space for more important thoughts.
- Make quick decisions. Don't give your brain enough time to obsess about outcomes. Give yourself a strict yet fair time limit to make decisions and stick to it. Making even the smallest decisions can help you feel accomplished, which boosts your confidence and makes things feel more manageable.
- Write it down. Make a decision and commit to it by writing it down or taking action right away. Add your workouts to your calendar, pick up the phone and make that important phone call, plan your meals one day in advance. These simple steps turn decision into action.
Recommended Reading: How to Instantly Improve your Mental Health
It's normal for your brain to think (obviously), but when your brain is focused on too many thoughts at one time, it becomes overwhelmed and stressed. Stress in the brain causes stress in the body, which results in a cascade of physiological and behavior changes that are not so good for us. Our heart rate and blood pressure increases and our ability to burn fat and digest our food decreases. We also default to some of our most impulsive coping mechanisms, which for many people include overeating, smoking, or drinking. To complicate things even further, anxiety is usually a subconscious processes that occurs without our awareness or recognition. Our brains are on overdrive and our behaviors are on autopilot and we don't even know its happening! This is why simply recognizing your anxiety when it's happening is the first and most important step toward decreasing it. You can't fix something that you don't know is happening. Try these simple strategies to increase awareness and stop your anxiety from becoming destructive:
- Pay attention to one thing. When you are anxious, your mind is thinking about a million different things. Focusing your attention to one thing is an incredibly powerful way to calm the mind and body. Try listening to music and focus intently on the lyrics. Read a book and focus on the words on the page and not the uncertainties of the life.
- Pay attention to what you can control. Shifting your focus on what you can control instead of what you can't control calms your mind and grounds you in reality. Ask yourself "what do I have control over in this situation?" You will find that you have more control than you thought. Focusing on what you can do is a great way to increase self-efficacy and boost your confidence.
- Pay attention to what is happening now. Living in the moment means focusing all of your mental thoughts on what is happening right now. Ask yourself "What does this moment look like? Sound like? Feel like? Taste like? Smell like? Where is your mind right now?" When you are focused on the right now, you are not focused on worry, self-doubt, and fear.
Try any or all of these simple strategies next time you feel like anxiety is getting in the way of your happiness and productivity. There is no right or wrong way to do any of these strategies, and the best strategy is the one that works for you!
What are some of your favorite strategies to decrease anxiety? Share the love in the comment section.
Author: Tamar Samuels MS, RDN, CDN
Tamar Samuels is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and the founder of All Great Nutrition, an unconventional nutrition and health coaching service for anyone who wants to transform their lives to become their happiest and healthiest self. Tamar's nutrition and health coaching program helps you develop sustainable self-care behaviors that nourish your body and mind for a lifetime. Through her personalized and holistic approach, you will finally achieve your greatest wellness goals...on your terms! When she's not working with awesome people like you, she loves lounging in her Brooklyn, New York apartment with her lazy dog Shiloh.