I have bad anxiety, like almost every college student. I also do what most college students do, and sit in their car, pondering over what their next move is. Should I go to class? Should I get out of my car now and get coffee and be late? Will my friend miss me if I don't meet her before? Or going to work. Will I actually be fired? What if I just show up really late? What's my bosses last name again?
You sit there and you ponder over stupid questions, but somehow they all lead to stressful decisions that you could have made with just the simple conscious common sense of your mind. A friend once did this trick with me that my therapist also said, but in a more hands on way because I usually like to write things down. My friend once said that life is not as complicated as everyone makes it seem, there will always be a choice, so make it a quick one, you don't have all the time in the world. Which is true, you don't and if you wait too long to make a choice, you might not have the same choices as before.
He sat me down one day, and held up two fists. One was represented as 'YES' and the other as 'NO.' I told him my dilemma, and as always, overthinking makes one problem seem much bigger than it is, making 50 other problems. He listened, and he took away some of the main points I was tending to come back to. He asked the question, in a very simple way, based off his interpretation of my problem. He made it into a yes-or-no answer. Within three seconds I had to decide my answer. Rattling off as many basic questions he could, based on my problem. My therapist did something similar. She had me keep post-it notes in my car, and every time I was in it and stressed out, she told me to write the question that popped into my head and quickly draw two check boxes. One for 'Y' and one for 'N,' putting emphasis on the quick drawing and writing of the note. Within three seconds I had to check a box.
This type of exercise is good for anxiety because even if you are timing yourself, or are in a low pressure situation alone in your car, you have to discipline yourself to adjust your mindset. And if you're with someone else, even better. The hands on, visual form of answering your own problems promotes a 'gut' feeling, in those three seconds, you take every single thought on the subject, filter the negatives and positives, and come up with your answer. Sometimes the answer isn't always what you wanted, or what you thought it was going to be, but that is YOUR answer. In your mind, in those three seconds, you have just ran through a database of facts and simulations, coming to one, simple answer. Life is not that complicated, there will be another person to come into your life, there will be another chance to pass that test, there will be another job, there will be another opportunity, but maybe, there won't be. Maybe your answer tells you that you are out of time, or that this is it. But your life is at the hands of your decisions, and if you spend more time picking through your choices, someone else will take that choice from you. That someone, could be time. Take three seconds, and answer your questions. Life does not have all the time in the world.
TIP: If you are using post-it notes, write one question down per sheet and crumple it off and throw it somewhere in your car after, you can pick them later. It helps regenerate new thoughts instead of dwelling on the old ones.