Anxiety makes us bad decision-makers. Here's how to do better even if you're worried about everything

Upper advanced
By Gogo
2020/07/07 15:00

Today's Vocabulary

1. struggling (adj.) 
unsuccessful but trying hard to succeed

2. daunting (v.)  
making you feel slightly frightened or worried about your ability to achieve something

3. manifest (v.)  
to show something clearly, through signs or actions

4. paralyse (v.)  
to cause a person, group, or organization to stop working or acting normally

5. indecision (n.)  
the state of being unable to make a choice

6. perceive (v.)  
to see something or someone, or to notice something that is obvious

7. generalized (adj.)  
involving a lot of people, places, or things

8. phobia (n.)  
an extreme fear or dislike of a particular thing or situation, especially one that cannot be reasonably explained

9. disorder (n.)  
an illness of the mind or body

10. advocate(n.)  
someone who publicly supports something

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Just before the lockdown began, London-based writer Valentina Valentini made the choice of a lifetime: She agreed to marry her partner. She didn’t think twice about it. A few weeks later, Valentini was struggling with pandemic-related anxiety that made even the most basic decisions seem daunting.

“It was just sort of this anxiety around everything,” she said. “Sometimes it can manifest itself in the smallest ways, like ‘I don’t know what to eat right now.’ I can’t choose the simplest thing.” Experts say Valentini is not alone in her anxiety and the paralyzing indecision it can cause.

Researchers across Europe have found rising anxiety, depression, and other mental health impacts amid the pandemic. “Anxiety often goes up in any moment where our bodies perceive a real threat,” said Luana Marques, a psychologist, and president of the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. “It certainly makes sense in the middle of a pandemic.”

While anxiety is distinct from depression, another mood disorder, it’s common to experience symptoms of both at the same time. There are several main types of anxiety disorder, including generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and phobia-related disorders.

That’s concerning: As the Covid-19 pandemic, many are facing daily decisions with high stakes for their families’ lives and livelihoods.

As for Valentini, the London-based writer, she employed the kind of self-care that experts like Marques and Bufka recommended. She tuned in to virtual yoga classes. Normally an exercise hater, she started taking jogs that seemed to elevate her mood. But in the end, Valentini and her fiance made the best decision they could with the information they had, putting down a deposit for a 2021 wedding in Southern California.  

And you know what? It helped, she said, even though the world is as confusing and stressful as ever. “It was like an exercise in forcing yourself to do something when there’s no certainty around you,” she said.


1. Does anxiety affect decision making?

2. What should you not say to someone with anxiety?

3. What does a person with anxiety feel like?

4. Can anxiety go away with time?

“Trust yourself. You’ve survived a lot, and you’ll survive whatever is coming.”

Robert Tew

“Inner peace begins the moment you choose not to allow another person or event to control your emotions.”

Pema Chodron