Anxiety is disruptive to many facets of everyday life. Whether you’re a freelance entrepreneur, an employee, or even a stay-at-home parent, anxiety can all-too-easily derail your daily activities. Knowing how to work through anxiety and stay the course is essential to success in all areas of your business and your life.
According to data from the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, anxiety disorders affect 18.1% of Americans. But even individuals who haven’t been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder experience it from time to time–especially during seasons of uncertainty.
If you struggle to stay focused at work due to anxiety, here are a few easy things you can do to take control and stay the course.
Acknowledge how you’re feeling right now
The first step to taking care of anxiety is acknowledging how you feel in the moment. Take a few minutes to observe the sensations in your body and the thoughts you’re having. Some people notice a racing heartbeat or tightness in their chest, among other signs and symptoms.
Often, anxiety causes our thoughts to spin out of control. If you can recognize your anxious thought patterns before they take over, it’s much easier to switch your logic-brain back on.
Once you’ve pinpointed what’s happening in your mind and your body, you’ll be able to take action to start feeling better.
When I’m feeling anxious, it’s infuriating for someone to tell me to breathe. But, taking a few minutes to focus on breathing almost always helps me to determine how to work through anxiety in that moment. Practicing breathing exercises can calm your body and mind, and help you increase mindfulness when the world feels chaotic.
Give yourself some time to process how you feel
When it comes to how to work through anxiety, sometimes it’s helpful to take a few minutes to process your feelings. Consider setting an alarm for five or ten minutes, and set your work aside. Then, let yourself think about your worries until the time is up.
While you’re processing, you can ask yourself questions about what you’re feeling. What are the facts? Are you relying on logic or emotion to draw conclusions? What are the possible solutions?
Break out the journal
Journaling is an effective method for processing your thoughts and untangling your emotions. During your break, grab your journal (or login if you use a digital one) and free-write about how you’re feeling. Web-based journals like Penzu and Journey or journaling apps like Day One and Daylio are all great digital options.
Your journal is a safe place to brain-dump and overthink. Sometimes, when we see our thoughts on the page, it becomes easier to assess them objectively. In other words, we can literally separate our thoughts from our emotions when we write them out.
Focus on what you know you can control
If you need help determining how to work through anxiety, focus on the things you know you can control. Anxiety arises from feeling wildly out of control of our surroundings. Therefore, it helps to remind yourself which factors in your life you are actually in control of.
Next, focus on those things–and try not to think so much about the things that are out of your hands. Trying to take control of factors that are outside your reach will just exhaust you and make your anxiety worse.
Avoid numbing out…
…at least, not for long! It’s easy to numb anxiety using games, social media, and other distractions. While those methods might work in the moment, procrastinating on essential work tasks will undoubtedly make your anxiety worse later.
If you do need to give your brain a break for a few minutes, do so (I do!). But set a timer so you get can back to work.
Move your body
Mental health professionals widely recommend exercise as an effective way to manage anxiety. Professionals who want to know how to work through anxiety should consider adding exercise into their daily self-care routine.
There are many options for making exercise a part of your day. Take a walk, roll out your yoga mat, or take a streaming workout class. If you need moral support, ask a friend to partner up with you (even remotely!) for accountability.
Connect with colleagues more often
Connecting with coworkers, colleagues, and mentors can help lift our spirits and brighten our mood. After all, many of us work from home these days–and working from home means we spend a lot of time isolated from others.
Anxiety tends to make us want to turn inward, rather than reaching out. But chances are, if you’re feeling this way, another entrepreneur you know is feeling the same.
Connect and team up with other professionals in your industry to maintain plenty of human connection and to keep each other accountable. Use videoconferencing software such as Zoom or Google Hangouts to host remote office hours with colleagues–or to just say hi.
Remind yourself this isn’t forever
When anxiety hits us full-force, it fools us into believing it will never go away, and that nothing will ever be okay. But anxiety is momentary, and it does pass–especially when you have strategies to help you overcome it quickly.
Whatever is happening in the moment, it’s so powerful to remind yourself that this isn’t going to last forever. The panic will ease, your breathing and heart rate will return to normal, and you’ll feel like yourself again.
Seek help from a licensed therapist
If anxiety is disrupting your daily activities and simple techniques are not helping you manage it, you may need to get help from a licensed therapist. Your therapist can help you learn to navigate anxiety and panic in productive ways, and they’ll give you a safe space to express your feelings.
Sometimes, anxiety must be managed with prescription medication and more specific forms of therapy. Your provider will recommend treatments based on your individual situation.
Many professionals experience anxiety–so if you’re feeling anxious or overwhelmed, especially during a season of uncertainty, you’re not alone. Taking excellent care of yourself is the first step to overcoming the emotions you’re experiencing right now, so start today.
Are you an entrepreneur or professional with anxiety? What are some of your tips for how to work through anxiety? We’d love for you to share with us in the comments section.
Featured image via Azat Valeev / shutterstock.com