Three Steps To Deal With Your Anxiety
January 20, 2022
When in a work setting, no matter what position you may be in, there will be many situations where you will feel a sense of anxiety. The source of the anxiety could be a looming deadline, lack of business traction, some presentation to deliver, a commercial negotiation, or a high-impact restructuring you are in the midst of. Having some anxiety is a universal experience.
There is always some underlying reason for you to feel anxious. For example, things may not be going as you expected, or you are worried about how the future will unfold, or you don’t feel like you are in control, or you have this nagging sense that you are not doing enough and need to be doing more.
Every person deals with anxiety differently. For most, some level of anxiety is always useful. It can trigger you to take necessary action to reduce anxiety.
However, for some, anxiety can lead to negative patterns of behavior. It can distract them, preventing them from focusing on what they have to do. As a result, they feel paralyzed, unable to take proactive actions or make decisions for fear of going wrong. Another manifestation is ignoring the help and advice of others, making faulty assumptions, or jumping to conclusions.
So, we know anxiety is bad. How do we deal with it?
There are three simple steps to deal with anxiety.
Become Aware Of Your Anxiety
The first step to deal with anxiety is to know that you are feeling it. Acknowledging that you are feeling anxious will help you address it constructively. Some people try to distract themselves from their anxiety, hoping that it will disappear. Unfortunately, it rarely works because the underlying reason is not addressed.
When I feel anxious about anything, I try to become aware of the feeling. I can sense that I feel uncomfortable, my shoulders tense, and sometimes I can palpably feel my heart and mind racing.
I tell myself I am anxious as soon as I become aware of the tell-tale reaction in my body.
Identify The Trigger For Your Anxiety
As soon as you become aware of your anxiety, take a moment to figure out the source and trigger for this feeling.
- Are you putting yourself in some situation that is making you anxious? E.g., You are speaking at some event or making a pitch, and you feel the pressure to perform and worry that things may not go as per plan.
- Is there some task you have to undertake that is causing the anxiety? E.g., you have to convey some bad news to someone.
- Is dealing with someone causing stress? E.g., a dominating colleague who is making you feel incompetent or inadequate.
When you identify the triggers for your anxiety, you can start figuring out how to deal with the root cause.
Slow Down And Act Intentionally
Our anxiety is always a reaction to some trigger. An excellent way to pull yourself out of the reaction mode is to slow down and take a deep breath. Slowing down will help you consciously prepare for a more effective response. Instead of the anxiety controlling what you do or don’t do, you can intentionally decide what you will do.
For E.g., if you are stressed about the impending presentation, instead of giving in to the anxiety when you slow down, you will realize that the only logical course of action is to prepare well, focusing on the present instead of thinking about the future imagining the worst.
Similarly, if you are anxious about making the best decision- instead of feeling stuck with anxiety, if you slow down, you will start reflecting on all the information you require as well as the people you can reach out to for advice or guidance.
To deal with the different challenges we face every day, we need a set of actionable models in our Mental Toolkit. The three-step process of 1. Becoming aware of your anxiety 2. Identifying the triggers for your anxiety, and 3. Slowing down to act intentionally-is a good mental model for dealing with your anxious moments.