3 Tips To Manage Anxiety In The Office
I’m naturally a pretty anxious person. In the minutes before a phone meeting, I’m panicking, breathing quickly, stomach fluttering, brain running through all the excuses I could make to cancel.
It’s a strange thing to deal with anxiety when your job as a media entrepreneur is based on uncertainty.
In entrepreneurship, the fear of failure can be more devastating than actually failing. When you’re afraid of risk or afraid to push the boundaries of your business, then you can’t innovate.
I know I’m not alone in those feelings. They are also feelings that overwhelmingly impact women more than men.
According to research by the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, women are twice as likely as men to deal with anxiety disorders in their lifetime. Maybe it’s because women’s brains don’t process serotonin as quickly as men’s. Maybe it’s because we’re living with subconscious bias, centuries of low career expectations and pressure to crack ceilings for our generation.
Either way, it’s something women in business need to talk about.
Side note: The best way to deal with anxiety in your life is a conversation between you and a doctor. (And a piece of personal advice in that regard, if you don’t have a doctor you really like, go find a different one.) Because medically, what works for me may not be what works for you.
But even if you have your anxiety under control, finding a way to manage it within entrepreneurship can be difficult.
I’ve found some simple ways to create comfort in uncertainty. Here’s how I do it.
Whatever the part of your job that makes your anxiety flare up the worst, it’ll be easier to handle if you have a specific plan for the task. For example, phone calls are my kryptonite. So what I do is try to give that phone call as much structure as I can before it happens. If I’m setting up the call via email, I try to plan out an agenda. “I want to ask you about this, and this and this.” And then I sort of mock-up a script of my end of the conversation. You can use this structure in all kinds of aspects of your work. I’ve found that if I nail down the uncertainty on my end as much as possible, I’m less anxious about things beyond my control.
Give yourself random reality checks.
I really spiral when I think I’m messing up. Talk to yourself about how one mistake isn’t the end of your business. And really talk to yourself. Have a conversation on paper or out loud with yourself about what you’re feeling and why. Then remind yourself of all the obstacles you’ve already conquered since you started as an entrepreneur. Think about the mistakes you’ve made and you and your team have recovered from. Also remind yourself that the risks and decisions you’re making are smart. Always gather data and research and check in with your gut so you can make the best decision for your venture. And then take a deep breath and take a risk.
Let yourself off the hook. If you’re having a really bad morning, you’re not failing if you take an hour to watch Netflix, take a walk or read a book or walk away from your desk for a lunch break if you work in a more office-type setting. As an entrepreneur you’re probably giving way more than full-time to your work. You have to give yourself some time too. And you can’t let yourself feel guilty for doing that. Sometimes I have to say, out loud, it’s okay that I’m not working right now. It’s okay to set aside the to-do list and breathe. In fact, it’s better for my business if I take a break than if I keep working without first calming my brain.
It can be hard to manage anxiety and a business, but I’ve been doing it for a year now, and I’m not letting my fears stop me anytime soon. I hope you won’t either.