How to Short-Circuit Anxiety

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You know that feeling… your heart is beating fast, your palms are sweaty or maybe you’re feeling those butterflies fluttering away? For some, this may feel like the breakfast sandwich finding its way to the top, and we’ve all been there — in the reception area awaiting the big interview, or before a presentation that’s the result of weeks of effort and will be happen in front of hundreds of people. In such a situation, dopamine levels are high, and we either let our nerves take over and bring out the best in us, or we use that rush to propel ourselves into action.

Of course, fear can happen to us anywhere, anytime, especially now that the uncertainty of Covid-19 seems to be pervasive. Whether we run our own business or worry about the safety of our job, nervous stress is a new constant and can be debilitating.

If you find yourself suffering from persistent and extreme anxiety, consult a doctor or therapist in your area. However, with more typical feelings of this type, there are some proactive measures that can lessen their impact.

1. Roadmap and document your feelings

When you’re in tune with your emotions — and the broader contours of your life — you’re more likely to be able to short-circuit fear before it kicks in. Neglecting your finances, relationships, diet, and health impacts mental resilience. This may sound obvious, but it is all too easily forgotten. For example, paying attention to caffeine and alcohol intake, the foods you eat, impulsive online shopping, and mindlessly scrolling social media and setting limits can all reduce stress.

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Related: How entrepreneurs can protect their mental health while being their own boss

I find it helpful to do a “feeling check” throughout the day. The process is simple: set a timer on your phone every few hours, name what you’re feeling, and write it down. The more we become aware of what we are experiencing, the more present, connected and grounded we become. These reviews are especially helpful after a turbulent moment, like reading an article or getting a phone call that threw you off course. Once you can identify the feeling associated with it (anger, sadness, fear), you can move on and not carry that feeling with you all day.

2. Meditate and use breathing techniques

Meditation has a number of health benefits. It can help to gain a new perspective in stressful situations, to connect with yourself and to focus on the present. It can also help reduce negative feelings. If you are new to meditation, start with a 5-10 minute guided version. (Just search Google and there will be plenty of free examples.)

Or consider using a breathing technique; One of my favorites is that of Dr. Andrew Weil developed the 4-7-8 method, which regulates breathing according to specific “on and off” counts – the result of what Weil describes as “a natural relaxant for the nervous system.” Deep and mindful breathing can help with circulation and energy levels. It can also relax the mind and body and help with focus, so consider starting and ending your days with it and/or when confronted with a stressful situation.

Related: 9 ways high-performing entrepreneurs deal with stress

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3. Change focus… and when to make fear work for you

If you start to feel overwhelmed, step back. take some water Call someone. Join a new activity… in short, change focus.

But interestingly, a fight-or-flight stress response can actually be useful when used properly. After all, without fear, humanity would not have survived, and fight or flight is what first responders rely on to serve our communities and keep us safe.

It’s possible to use fear to find solutions you might not otherwise have thought of. When we’re stressed, our body releases cortisol, which gives us heightened awareness until the task or stressful event is over. If you feel your body or mind is tense, take the opportunity to do a big task. Maybe it’s a big sales presentation or report, but This is the time to focus on an item that you may have been procrastinating on. However, the key in this process is to take breaks to relieve stress.

Simply put, be aware that you can transform what’s going on in your mind in a positive way. View a stressful event as a challenge, not a threat. An Iraqi war veteran I’m close told me how he did it when he was on duty. He said that the moment he decided to view his years of service as an adventure rather than a burden, his mindset and experience changed. He no longer felt frozen in fear and worry. It wasn’t that he wasn’t scared anymore, but what became more important to him was getting things done, especially under stressful conditions.

Related: Why showing courage changes everything

4. Find meaning in your actions

why are you in your job If you work for yourself, why did you start the company? Something as simple as earning a steady paycheck could very well be the ready answer to these questions. However, finding broader meaning encourages introspection in general, and the results can be transformative.

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Where are you now and where do you want to go? What actions are you taking daily to get there? For example, if you are currently transitioning a business, what courses are you taking? what books do you read What podcasts do you listen to? What steps are you taking to gain more knowledge?

Then ask yourself, “What am I enjoying today? What makes me happy?” Neurologist and psychiatrist Viktor Frankl believed that people are motivated by something he called “the will to have meaning,” which basically means we’re constantly searching for meaning or purpose—that’s what motivates and drives us to keep going. This often takes the form of a dialogue with ourselves to stimulate curiosity, increase potential and allow us to evolve and grow.

In Barbara Fredrickson’s book Positivity: Discover the upward spiral that will transform your life (Harmony, 2009), the professor of psychology and neuroscience explains how profoundly everyday emotional experiences affect our life course. In one passage she explains: “Blooming goes beyond happiness or contentment with life. It’s true, people who thrive are happy. But that’s not half. Aside from making them feel good, they also do good – they add value to the world.”

Related: 7 steps to finding meaning in your work

When we are able to flip the script and change the narrative about fear, we are able to envision and create better ways. We can also use it to create, inspire and motivate ourselves and those around us. When we are able to control fear, rather than letting it control us, we begin to experience more possibilities, gain confidence and leadership skills, and get more of what we truly want.

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