John Malouff, Ph.D., J.D., earned a law degree from the University of Colorado in 1979 and a Ph.D. in clinical psychology from Arizona State University in 1984. He currently works as an associate professor of psychology at the University of New England, in Armidale, Australia. He has co-authored five books and several dozen articles in scientific journals. He writes a blog on Using Psychology in day-to-day life.
Link to original document: Problem Solving Strategies
Do the opposite of what you have been doing.
This 180 degree shift in approach is often essential for helping individuals reduce anxiety about specific situations, such as public speaking or seeing someone bleeding. Phobics tend to avoid the situation, thereby making their anxiety increase. The best way to reduce anxiety is to expose oneself, gradually or not, to the feared situation. This principle also comes into play when a physician notices a patient is getting worse and worse. That may be the time to decrease the medication rather than increase them — if the medications are causing the worsening.
Try a totally different approach.
If many individuals have tried to solve a certain problem and failed, it might be helpful to try an approach that is not just somewhat different but very different. One might describe this method geometrically as moving the attack to a different plane. Einstein did that with his theory of general relativity. Most such efforts will eventually be considered crackpot; some will be called a work of genius.