Anxiety affects 18% of the US population – about 40 million people.
Anxiety disorders cost more than $42 billion a year, according to “The Economic Burden of Anxiety Disorders” a study in The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry.
There is definitely a need to discuss and conquer anxiety – your anxiety. Of course, there are varying levels and a degree of anxiety, but any form of anxiety is uncomfortable and draining.
In the modern age of business reported anxiety is growing at an alarming rate. Your worries range from ‘will your boss will agree’ to ‘what the neighbors will think?’ and everything in between.
Many people experience worry and anxiety so often that they no longer recognize it. Let’s back up a bit. Everyone worries to some extent. Worry is okay when it opens up your mind to exploring new avenues of solution or when it causes you to drive on the right side of the road (for your protection). But it’s when worry moves into anxiety leading to a physical and emotional toll on you work performance and mood that's when it’s time to take action. Here are six things you can do to take charge of your anxiety and prevent it from controlling your life.
1. Have “worry time.”
Postponing or ignoring what’s worrying you just sets it in the back of your mind where you’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. Removing worries from your mind to paper is a critical first step.
Start today. Write out ‘the worry list’ listing all the things you are worried about that day. Check off the ones that are irrational (we all know which ones those are). Next to the remaining worries, write one sentence of how this affects you. Write another sentence of what you will do to eliminate it. Doing this daily creates the habit of tackling your worries or anxieties head on.
2. Is there really a solution?
Sometimes your worries get bent out of shape when they swim around in your head 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, then proceed onto the next step here.
3. Learn to accept uncertainty.
Not all of your worries are problems that can be solved. You can’t control what others do or say. Uncertainty is a part of life and, while I know this drives 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.
4. Challenge your anxious thoughts.
When anxiety stays in your head, thoughts can become blown out of proportion and you’ll start to see things in black and white or you’ll have worries so large that everything you do seems to support your 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.
5. 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. To face uncertainty you need to place yourself into a state of acceptance and positivity about the future – even though you can’t control it.
6. Check your diet
It’s no secret that there could be a genetic and neurological reason for your anxiety. Hence the need for a good diet that is rich in magnesium and omega fatty acids is good for you. Take an inventory of food triggers that upset your gut or cause any other problems for you. Looking at your diet is something you can take charge of.
Learn to recognize your anxiety and make it work for you rather than against you by practicing these six things. What are you doing to curb your anxiety?
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