In threatening situations, people with anxiety tend to zero in on the perceived threat and ignore everything else, Dolcos says. Someone who feels uneasy about flying, for example, will focus on the shaking of the plane when there’s turbulence and forget about the movie they’re watching or the book they’re reading.
Directing your attention in that way only fuels negative emotions, Dolcos notes.
The bottom line:
To ease anxiety on the spot, focus on your surroundings—like the music, decor, or the people around you—rather than the trigger itself.
Better yet, instead of honing in on something neutral, choose a positive element like a friendly face or the bouquet of flowers on the table. This will make calm even easier to come by, Dolcos says.