Nearly 40 million Americans are affected by an anxiety disorder. Many more of us are grappling with situational anxiety that can arise from something as seemingly innocuous as being stuck in traffic or having to give a presentation at work. Or we might feel a nearly constant uneasiness about an issue that feels too big to get a grip on, like paying our bills, dealing with a difficult relationship or the fragile state of the world.

One especially debilitating symptom of anxiety is catastrophizing (or spiraling out of control), which is a cognitive distortion that leads people to immediately believe the worst possible outcome will play out, even though there is little evidence to make or support that conclusion.

“Your mind is going to the worst-case scenario, and in the process you’re getting really, really anxious,” psychotherapist Rene Gonzalez recently told us, Raj Punjabi and Noah Michelson, the co-hosts of HuffPost’s “Am I Doing It Wrong?” podcast. When this happens, it prevents us from seeing the scenario accurately, which can keep us spiraling in our anxiety — and from finding a solution or path forward. But there are effective ways to calm ourselves down and get a grip on the reality of the situation.

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