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If you’re an anxious person, or if you spend time with a worrier, chances are your plans get derailed…a lot.

The weekend getaway at the beach that turned into four hours, or the date night that became disaster night because ‘what did you really mean by that…?’ had to be examined from every angle and back.

The anxious person struggles with decision-making and commitment. It’s that looming regret about not choosing the right path, and the chorus of ‘what ifs’ afterward that threatens peace of mind and eats up hours of mental bandwidth. And telling someone, “It’s going to be fine, just go with the flow,” is as futile as telling a depressed person, “cheer up.”

A 2014 multi-university study surveyed nearly 4,000 participants from 19 countries on their mental health and their feelings on action versus inaction.The researchers found that anxious people predominantly expressed negative feelings toward action.

Contrary to popular belief, chronic procrastination isn’t actually linked to perfectionism, but rather to impulsiveness, according to Piers Steel, researcher and author of The Procrastination Equation.

In the clinical realm, it’s common for a therapy client to self-identify perfectionism as the source of being chronically stuck. “I couldn’t get the report in on time because I feared it wasn’t going to be my best effort.”

Let’s be honest, perfectionism sounds better than impulsivity as the driving force behind inaction. Regardless of semantics, science is data-driven, and the stress to self-worth and relationships is formidable.

 

Here are five things to do next time the fear of imperfection rears its ugly, flawed head:

 

1. Recognize impulsivity. For some, this means calling or texting a loved one incessantly. For others, this is self-medicating or going into panic mode. Identification of unhealthy coping skills is the first step toward choosing to Do differently next time your mind is hijacked by stress.

 

2. Practice being okay with uncertainty. There’s a fine line between wp themes making an informed decision and obsessively surveying your friends for an answer nobody can provide. Vulnerability can be scary, but it’s essential for growth.

 

3. Breathe in to let go. It’s impossible to be simultaneously anxious and calm. Take three slow, deep breaths to slow your brain and body and prepare you for reframing paralyzing thoughts. “This job transfer feels overwhelming right now, but after a week, I’ll get the hang of things.”

 

4. Choose one or two people to talk to. No need to poll all the people in your life, plus, you’ll save time and precious emotional energy by narrowing your inner circle to a trusted few. And hopefully one is named Shrink 😉 .

 

5. Remind yourself of all the times you got it right. Research shows our brains are wired for negative bias. This means we’re extremely adept at remembering bad events, while discounting positive experiences. Focus on what you’re doing well every day.

 

Perfect is unattainable unless your name is Photoshop. The truth is most of us don’t feel comfortable with uncertainty, and that’s perfectly okay.

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“Calming Your Anxious Mind” is a course in mindfulness, relaxation and finding peace in the chaos. Click here for more information.

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Yours in imperfection,

—Linda Esposito