Notes on Anxiety and Decision Making “Pauses”

I’ve mentioned before that my job can be a challenge. I have to be extremely accurate in my decision-making, hundreds of times a day. I cannot afford to be wrong.

I also DO NOT have any sort of God-complex whatsoever- the exact opposite, in fact. I have struggled with anxiety all of my life. People tell me that they never would have known, I guess I hide it well. If they could see all the worst-case scenarios and second guessing that go on in my head on a daily basis, they might wonder how I function at all.

Yet, I do. I suppose this level of awareness makes me very good at what I do, but it is also extraordinarily draining. There are many, many days when I ask my significant other to choose dinner because I just simply can’t make anymore decisions. He gives me a look, but because he is a saint, he agrees to decide on the eggplant parmesan for me and our evening rolls on.

I think people who have traditionally high-stress professions may be particularly prone to this type of temporary decision making inability. Although, I also believe that any job can be high stress given its unique set of judgement making, multitasking, and time management requirements (sounds like parenting, doesn’t it? Props to all ‘rents). I concede that I am also a sensitive soul and therefore have to conclude that at least part of the situation may be due to the temperament of the individual.

I know there must be other folks with high-stress occupations (or parents) that have  experienced decision “pauses” and must understand…Or maybe I’m just unique. Doubtful.

Here are some things that I decide to do when I cannot decide to decide on anything…er…yeah…

Unplug (Your Brain)

When I can’t make a determination on something so simple as food or beverage, I know it’s time to take a break. Not a well thought out read-a-great-book-or-interesting-article break; what I seem to crave in these moments are total mind-numbing activities (NO decision-making required). Netflix please!

*When I engage in an activity like this, though, I do like to give myself a time limit. Otherwise I find that I feel way too guilty about wasting the time afterwards. I find that an hour is usually more than sufficient.


Some very important people in my life, folks that I have been blessed to know, have taught me that humor really can be the best medicine. If I can manage to understand the joke through the haze in my brain, a good belly laugh can do wonders.

I encourage finding humor wherever you can, there are days when life can seem awfully bleak without it.

Let Someone Take Care of You

Even the most introverted introverts need people. Especially in moments like this, I find that letting someone whom I trust fix me dinner and sit with me through a mindless sitcom helps me feel so much better, and a little more human.

If you happen to be a very self-sufficient soul, your confidants may not readily recognize that you need some support. Don’t be afraid to ask a trusted friend or partner, they will likely jump at the opportunity to help you out.


I’m not very good at this yet, but the instances that I have tried this have generally turned out quite well. It takes me quite awhile to calm down my internal dialogue (and I never can get it to completely cease), but just sitting and trying not to think can be so refreshing.

There are several types of meditation; guided, silent, walking, object, etcetera. I recommend finding a comfortable place to sit and experiment. There are numerous meditation guides on the internet that can help you get started.

yard buddha

After I partake in one of these activities and follow it up with a good nights’ rest (i.e. I get to bed on time), I usually feel like myself again at daybreak, ready to be picky about what kind of coffee or yogurt I will have that morning and tackle all the occupational judgements of the day. My decision making abilities return for awhile and I’m able to not only plan, but prepare dinner.

I hope this helps anyone out there who might also be having occasional decision “pauses”. Take care, and stay cozy.

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Bad Day…

Today was a bad day, a really bad day. Today was the kind of day that defined the term “put through a meat grinder.” By the time I got home my feet were sore and my head was both throbbing and exhausted. I had one of those rare moments when I began to question what I was doing with my professional life and considering a job change (which there is absolutely nothing wrong with, if you have the right reasons).

I work in a small office. We work very closely in an intense environment for sometimes 12 hours a day. Dealing with life and death, really.

Today was a day when things were going wrong personally and/or professionally for almost all of my coworkers. The day was filled with tragedies, both real and imagined. A mood crept over us all, one of desperation and hopelessness. I understand how dramatic this description sounds, but some of these people are going through really terrible things.

After I got home and tried to ready myself for the transition from work life to family life, I realized something. Nothing terrible was happening to me. Not to say that I haven’t had my fair share of despair in life, boy oh boy. But today, nothing was going terribly wrong for me, personally.

Except for maybe the fact that I am what some people refer to as a “highly sensitive person”, or “HSP” for short. I’m not going to go into particulars here, but I will tell you that the reason I think MY day turned out so awful was because I tend to empathize rather than sympathize. Mind you, I do not at all believe that we can EVER really know how someone else experiences anything. But for whatever reason, other peoples’ sadness can be quite contagious for me. Am I the only one like this? Maybe, maybe not.

Below is a short list of things I have found to be helpful when the world just seems wrong.


Just for a moment if you can, give yourself a break. I find that simply being able to stop doing a task for a short time allows me to feel that I have some control.


No really, this has got to be one of the most highly underrated coping strategies ever. Take a big, long, deep breath. Feel your lungs fill with air, straighten your back, and let your shoulders fall.

Learn to Sympathize

Unfortunately, there are dreadful things that happen in the world. It’s easy (especially for some of us) to feel like the world is hopeless, especially when interacting with individuals who are facing life’s biggest and baddest obstacles. Learn to give the appropriate condolence and help each other where you can, but try not to “absorb” other people’s sorrow. If you need justification, know that people who are experiencing terrible things often need strong people around them. You can’t be strong when you’re feeling their misery for them.

Take Care of Yourself

It sounds trite, but it’s true. It’s a great deal more possible for anyone (HSP or not) to lose control of their emotions and mood when their basic needs aren’t being met. Water, food, rest, and a safe environment for yourself should be high on your priority list.

Hope this is helpful. Stay cozy.