Anxiety is like a traffic jam: How to get unstuck

atlanta rush hour traffic

Does your life feel like a perpetual traffic jam with no movement forward? How anxiety inducing is it to be stuck in traffic? Just the thought of being gridlocked in Atlanta traffic with no ability to get out to stretch your legs or use the restroom is the stuff of nightmares, am I right? When our progress depends entirely on external factors it’s only natural to feel helpless. We’ve all been there and it sucks to feel powerless.

It sucks to feel stuck

What if I told you that you are the traffic in this metaphor and you are making yourself feel unsuccessful? By not recognizing and celebrating your achievements, no matter how small they may seem, you are creating a gridlock of feelings of powerlessness. Unlike a traffic jam, your success does not entirely depend on external factors. To put it another way, you’re succeeding every single day and you may not even realize it!

Avoiding wrecks

Would you believe that your mental health can be impacted by achievement gridlock? When we feel powerless in achieving our goals, nasty emotions (or car wrecks) can really get in our way. So, what kind of negative emotions can result from not celebrating small achievements?

  • Frustration and irritability from feeling like a failure
  • Anxiety that we can’t live up to our own standards and be successful
  • Dread of facing another day of hardship and certain failure
  • Depression and sadness that you aren’t succeeding in life
  • Resentment that others make success look so easy

Yikes! Think of all these emotions as huge semi-trucks filling up the roadway.  Not only are you blocked from progressing to your destination, but you can’t see the way forward at all. When we don’t recognize our small achievements we are setting ourselves up for a long and gruesome road ahead. All these feelings stem from a fear of failure and can actually lead to failure. What a vicious road trip!

Clearing the traffic

So, what are some reasons you should celebrate small achievements other than not feeling bad emotionally? What are the emotional and mental benefits of clearing out this metaphorical traffic in the way? There are certainly many benefits you gain when you celebrate your small achievements.

  • Increases motivation to keep succeeding and breeze down the highway
  • Helps get you unstuck so all that traffic takes a quick exit out of your way
  • Honors accomplishments that you’re making every day (because every mile is a mile closer to your destination)
  • Build confidence in your ability to drive your life
  • Leads to big achievements so you have even more to celebrate and more sites to see
  • Increases happiness which makes the trip unquestionably more enjoyable
  • Creates successful habits so your road can always be traffic-free

I don’t know about you, but when I read those benefits I already feel the traffic clearing out of my way! How cool is it to know that all of these things clear the road? When we are breezing down the highway, we feel free and like we’re making progress towards our destination. You can have that feeling of freedom and success every day of your life!

Avoiding traffic jams

Okay, so all of that sounds super awesome right? But how do you make this change? How can you take steps to achieve goals while living life with more confidence? Let’s review some steps to achieving our goals without traffic jams.

  • Break it down into smaller goals so you can see your progress along the way
  • Track your progress by writing it down as you go so you have tangible evidence of success
  • Change your perspective because our goals are always changing and growing (there is no finish line or final destination)
  • Change your to-do list to set more realistic goals that can be checked off throughout the day or week
  • Reward yourself for every achievement you make (you wouldn’t pit stop without grabbing a snack, right?)
  • Stop pressuring yourself so you don’t leave any room for feeling like you’ve failed

Who would’ve guessed it’s that easy to get that traffic off the road? Every time you celebrate your achievements, both sedan and semi-truck in size, you are clearing the road for yourself. Recognizing your own badassery makes your life vehicle feel like a Tesla and makes the entire experience so much more rewarding. No one can touch a Tesla, right? They own the road. And so do you.

Share the drive

Of course, sometimes assistance may be needed to help clear the road. Working with an understanding therapist who has all the bells and whistles can help you clear all the traffic in your way. If you find that your anxiety has you feeling stuck in gridlock and need someone to help open the road, schedule an appointment with a counselor who has the sirens and lights today either through the client portal or call the office at 770-283-8386. We can help you clear your road to success so you can breeze through life in your own luxury vehicle. 


Nadya Clontz, APC brings her heart and humor into her work with chronic illness warriors, emerging adults (17-24ish), and LGBTQIA+ folx. Read more of her blog posts or schedule an appointment with her.

4411 Suwanee Dam Road, Suite 450
Suwanee, GA 30024

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