Different Ways to Say the Same Thing

Recently I read a trilogy by an author who shall remain nameless. In each of her three books one of the main characters in a fit of either exhaustion or frustration “pinched the bridge of his nose.” At first, I thought this was a clever way to show such emotion. I had no idea it was the only way. Throughout each of the three books I read by this author one or more characters pinch the bridge of their nose. It happens at least three times in each book. It got to the point where I was looking for the phrase, almost expecting it. It can stop a reader cold to notice such things…not to mention it takes one totally out of the story. What other body language indicates frustration or exhaustion that this author could have used? Maybe “She ran her hands through her hair and sighed.” Or how about, “He kicked at the ground with the toe of his boot, his brow knotted in frustration.” I would have killed for an eye roll and a hissy fit.
This author isn’t the only one who suffers from reusing fixed phrases to establish an emotion or explain an aspect of the setting. Many are guilty. Perhaps they just find a phrase they like that they feel captures the essence of a situation, not considering that if a person reads all their books they will see more of the same over and over again to the point of distraction. A friend from years back once commented that he was sick to death of opening an author’s book only to find the phrase “yellow glow of the sodium vapor lights” in countless numbers of them. Is this a result of formulaic writing? How does a writer stay away from such mistakes? Or maybe, as a member of my book club pointed out, I need to stop reading books like an English teacher and just enjoy them for what they are.