How many of you have had nights when you’ve woken up in a panic, convinced that you had to do something important right then and there and if you didn’t, the world would end or something seriously catastrophic would happen? (I’m raising my hand right now) How many of you have been in a board meeting, and have begun considering (in your head) all of the things that you have to do in order to prevent the company from falling apart at the seams? (Again, raising my hand here).
The fact of the matter is that we worry. We worry a lot. We worry about the business. We worry about our family. We worry about our relationships. It’s a lot of worry and it’s not easy to get rid of it. When it becomes harmful is when it turns from worry into anxiety and begins physically and emotionally taking a toll on our performance at work and our mood at home. So what are some things that you can do to get control of your anxiety and prevent it from controlling your life?
Have “worry time.”
Sounds silly, right? I mean, who would want to dedicate time to actively worrying? Well, you, for one, should. The thing is, when we try and postpone or ignore what’s worrying us, it’s always in the back of our mind and we’re constantly thinking about it, but not actually dealing with it. When you set aside time to actually confront your worries, it allows you to face them and actually do something about them.
Ask yourself if the problems you’re worrying about are solvable.
Sometimes our worries get bent out of shape when they swim around in our heads for too long. When you decide to confront something that’s causing you anxiety, ask yourself if the worry you have is actually solvable (hint: sometimes they can’t be solved). If you can solve the problem, then that’s fantastic! If you can’t, well then, you have to proceed onto the next step here.
Learn to accept uncertainty.
Not all of our worries are problems that can be solved. Uncertainty is a part of life and, while I know this will drive all of you planners nuts, sometimes you just have to accept the fact that unknowns are going to spring up at any time and you’ve just got to face them rather than worry about them.
Challenge your anxious thoughts.
When anxiety stays in our head, thoughts can become blown out of proportion and we’ll start to see things in black and white or we’ll have worries so large that everything we do seems to support our worry. When anxiety gets to this level, it helps to write these thoughts down and then do what I like to call “taking the statements to court.” Write your anxiety down. For example, say it’s that you aren’t going to finish this project on time and your career will be over.
Now write down all of the evidence that actually points to this being the case. Maybe one of the departments is behind schedule. Perhaps one of your bosses told you this was very important to your career. Now write down all of the evidence to the contrary. Whether it’s the fact that you’ve never missed a deadline before or that management has always praised your performance. Chances are, when you take your worries to court, you’ll find a lot more evidence against your anxiety, than for it.
Stay in the present.
Oftentimes, our anxiety is over tasks that are going to be happening in the future. But you know what? It’s not the future yet and you can’t do anything about it right now. Practice staying in the present and being mindful of the problems and tasks at hand that need to be solved right now.