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When Making Decisions Causes Anxiety

July 14, 2020 Rizza Bermio-Gonzalez

As an anxious person, I have found that decision-making with anxiety can be very challenging. As a matter of fact, decision-making can seem like a daunting task, regardless of how major or minor the decision may be. 

Because of this, I must admit that there have been many times I've avoided making decisions so that I wouldn't have to cope with the stress and discomfort that comes along with the process. There has also been plenty of times that I have spent an inordinate amount of time weighing options, researching possibilities, or ruminating afterward about different decisions I could have made.

Why Do Decisions Made with Anxiety Make Me Overly Stressed?

From making simple decisions such as where to go for dinner, or more complex decisions such as how to word an email or what type of car to purchase, decision-making can induce feelings of fear, worry, and uncertainty that further contribute to overall anxiety. Sometimes, this anxiety from decision-making may stem from previous negative situations that have occurred surrounding similar decisions. Sometimes, this anxiety may result from overthinking about the consequences of making the wrong choice.

In either case, I often find myself worrying when I need to make a decision about something because I am desperate to avoid unpleasant feelings that may be associated with any of the decisions I make. I find myself thinking that I might disappoint myself, or worse, others, if I make a wrong decision.

How to Deal with the Anxiety of Making Decisions

I have found that there are ways to train my brain to help me make decisions without anxiety or excessive worry. This is always a work in progress for me, but I have found these tips to be helpful:

  1. Be mindful. Taking the time to focus on my thoughts in the moment while in the process of making a decision allows me to eliminate distractions that ramp up my anxiety. Being mindful and self-aware of what the objective is and staying in the moment allows me to deliberately approach my decision-making.
  2. Be aware that not all decisions will be perfect. I tend to set such high standards for myself and, as a result, look for perfection in so many things that I do, say, think, etc. When I do not meet these standards, I feel anxious. I've come to realize that, if I see decisions that I make as simply right or wrong, I'll often second-guess a decision that I've made, and then convince myself that it was somehow the wrong choice. This can then become a cycle as it affects decision-making in the future. However, if I accept that there are not necessarily right or wrong decisions but different options, it's less scary to make a decision that's incorrect.
  3. Trust yourself. Trust the decision that you initially make without second-guessing yourself. Quickly making a decision eliminates that time in which anxiety typically starts to increase due to the distracting thoughts that enter your mind. Sometimes I find that if I quickly make a choice, I have less time to overthink about potential options and thus less time to worry. However, it is important to also trust the decision that I've made, rather than worry about consequences afterward. Being mindful about trusting myself also helps me to build confidence in the choices I make.

Try these suggestions to help you overcome any decision-making anxiety. If there are other tips that you would like to share with others, comment below.

APA Reference
Bermio-Gonzalez, R. (2020, July 14). When Making Decisions Causes Anxiety, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2022, December 4 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/treatinganxiety/2020/7/when-making-decisions-causes-anxiety



Author: Rizza Bermio-Gonzalez

Hansie Cronje
July, 31 2022 at 11:53 pm

I always struggle when I am to make a decision on whether to accept a job offer or not. Sometimes I have had to make a 3 way decision.
Such decisions always paralyze me.
Worse, still I keep ruminating even after I have accepted the offer.... and I feel very very nervous when handing in my resignation..
How can I overcome this

August, 2 2022 at 3:00 pm

Hi Hansie,
When struggling with decisions, I've found it helpful to write down the positives and negatives of each possibility. This helps me to process how I feel about each decision. I can understand it can be hard to stop thinking about the "what ifs" when you do make a decision. This is where mindfulness can be helpful. Staying in the moment, keeping yourself grounded, and focusing on the here-and-now, without judgment, takes some practice but I've found this is helpful for me.
All the best,
Rizza

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