Decision Making Anxiety

Do you ever get anxiety when you have to make a decision?

I sure do and I have for as long as I can remember.  This time of the year is always the most difficult for me when it comes to decision anxiety.  It isn’t that I can’t make a decision but I often struggle to do it.  And in that struggle, the anxiety builds up.

Here is a perfect example.  I need to buy somebody a gift.  OK, no big deal right?  Well, what do I get them?  Where do I get it?  What size? What color? Will they like it?  Can I find it cheaper someplace else?  Is it a stupid gift?  Those are just some of the many questions that would flow through my head.

Eventually I might settle on what to get them and have an idea of where to go to get it but the anxiety remains.  OMG what if they don’t like it and judge me based on what I got them?  What if they already have something similar?  What if they just pretend to like it so they don’t hurt my feelings?  Anxiety builds and builds until I don’t even want to buy anything.  I become frozen.

Now multiply that by five to ten people.  Also, add the mall…what a zoo!  That adds to the stress and anxiety and makes the task more of a pain so it gets put off and put off until last minute which makes everything even worse!!

So that is just a gift purchasing decision.  For me it has also been with things like where to eat (what if the food sucks), planning a date (what if I pick a terrible restaurant), buying a new car (is this even a good car), choosing where to holiday (could I get a better deal), and more recently buying a condo (can I make such a big decision by myself).  All of these decisions lead to anxiety which can be exhausting and in a lot of cases, lead to inactivity.

Decision Dice

Decision Making Dice

What can you do to help?

Here are a few tricks I have used to help me reduce the amount of anxiety I feel when it comes to making decisions.

Plan plan plan

I have found that if I start my holiday shopping plan earlier than I used to, I have more time to figure out what I need to be getting.  Or at the least, start to come up with some ideas.  Trying to come up with ideas last minute is not going to help.  I also create a list of who I need to buy for and some ideas about what to get them.  Seeing it written down on paper and checking off each person as I go really seems to help.  I realize this is such a first world problem and I have tried to think of it in that way.  We are so fortunate to even be in a position where this is an issue.

Do your research

This might seem counter productive as too much research can lead to too much information which can lead to confusion.  For me, if I am unsure about where to buy or where I might be able to find the best deal, this effort is worth it.  The key is knowing when to stop.  By looking online you can find the best rated restaurants in the city, the best hotels for your vacation or the best make/model of car.  It can be hard to trust the ratings you see online but generally, if there are enough of them, they are probably pretty accurate.  Getting an understanding of what the options are can help ease that “unsure” feeling.

Narrow your options

Once I have done my research, I try to really narrow down my options so that the decision is between one or two places/things.  Trying to choose when there are 50 choices is so much harder than when there are two.  Think of a menu at a restaurant with a lot of great choices and see how long it takes you to figure out what you want.  By narrowing the choices you are able to focus.  Forget the other options and don’t even go back to look.

trust your gut

More often than not, you know what you want and you can make the decision.  Anxiety is just there to second guess it and make you worry.  Whether it be something as minor as a restaurant decision or the purchase of a condo, your first instinct is probably a good barometer.  Obviously bigger decisions like a condo or car will take more time to figure out, but the more you start to trust your gut with smaller decisions, the sooner you will find that you can do so without anxiety creeping in an making it a tougher process.

Decision anxiety has been something I have really struggled with in the past.  I am getting much better at it as I have worked on improving my mental wellness but the doubt still creeps in at times when I have to make decisions.  I am learning to tame that and trust my gut.  To be more confident in my decisions and trust that what I decided was right.