How to manage and thrive – Anxiety about going to work
Anxiety seems to be everywhere. And it is no stranger to work. Deadlines, challenging coworkers and clients, more work than there are hours in the day. For students it’s assignments, midterms, exams, and tutorials. All of which can be anxiety inducing.
I have clients that struggle with anxiety. Not all, but some. I always let them know that I am not a psychology, psychiatrist or any form of psycho-therapist so if you have anxiety issues, so they should consult a professional. However, I share some of the things that have worked for me in the past.
You won’t eliminate anxiety overnight and the first step is catching yourself in moments of anxiety. You first start off as unconsciously-incompetent: meaning you don’t know when you’re being anxious. So step 1 is to get to consciously-incompetent: where you’re anxious and can’t do anything about it, but at least you’re aware of it.
The tougher parts are to move to conscious-competence: meaning you are aware you’re anxious and have moved beyond your anxiety. With the ultimate goal is to get to unconscious competence: meaning that you get over your anxiety and didn’t really have to think about doing so. Here’s a few tools that might help you get there.
Change your perspective
Listening to a podcast (it was either a Tony Robbins or Jerry Colonna one, though can’t completely recall), a compelling thought about anxiety was mentioned “Anxiety is energy with a story attached to it”. The interesting revelation is that excitement is the same physical state but with a different story.
So how can you change that story and turn anxiety into excitement? You’re anxious about an upcoming presentation? Could you instead be excited about being able to share information with your colleagues?
Change your body and surroundings
Your mind and body are intertwined. If you’re in an anxious mental state, often changing your physical state helps. Stand up. Move around. Take a walk. Go a less anxious space. Relax. Then take that relaxation back with you.
So what, now what?
Anxiety can stem from worrying. I should have done this or that instead. Perhaps a lot of “should’ves” or “could’ves”. A quote that resonates in this instance is: “worrying is like a rocking chair, it gives you something to do, but doesn’t get you anywhere” (I haven’t been able to find a proper attribution for this one, so if you know who said it, let me know). Linda Cliatt-Wayman, an educator and principal of some of the toughest schools in the US uses a related quote “So what, now what?”. Said a different way, you can’t change the past (so what). You can learn from them, and focus on what to do with that learning in the present (now what).
When you’re feeling anxious, perhaps you could tell yourself “so what, now what?”
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