nxiety - a nervous disorder characterized by a state of excessive uneasiness and apprehension, typically with compulsive behavior or panic attacks. It happens to the best of us. Some have it but are undiagnosed, some are treated for it, and it can range from being an annoyance to crippling. Learning how to work through it is a powerful tool so let’s get to it.
Disclaimer: We are not medical professionals, the information in this article is from personal experiences, conclusions, and medical consultations. If you feel like you have this condition and it is greatly impacting your life, you may want to seek medical professional help. There is nothing to be ashamed of and anxiety can be treated through therapy and/or medication.
One great way for dealing with anxiety is to prevent it from happening, I know – easier said than done but I’m going to go through a few methods that I have discovered worked for me and some my therapist suggested.
Know Your Triggers
Are you aware of what sets off your anxiety? Some people do not have circumstantial triggers, but others are triggered by certain events or circumstances. Understanding what causes it gives you the advantage of avoiding those situations or coming up with a solution that prevents anxiety. This may require some practice since common solutions involve a change of mentality.
Here's an example, I was very passionate in school about my studies, I could not wait to become an engineer. This put some pressure on me on top of the already heavy workload. Curiously enough I was confident about my work and exams, I breezed through the courses, had friends, a non-demanding job, but yet I would find myself feeling so uneasy at times. My chest would start to feel tight; my eyes would tear although I wasn't crying, and my breathing increased. I was so baffled because I had no idea what was going on and these symptoms were very strange to say the least. During one of these times I called my older brother and told him what was going on, he said it sounded like I was having an anxiety attack and to focus on my breathing. This made me even more confused because to me these were random events and I had no idea what was causing it, but I listened to him and it worked!
Now I had to figure out what was causing it. This was tricky because it required me to be extra aware of my thoughts and surroundings at all times so that when this seemingly random event happened again, I would be able to pinpoint the triggers. After about three more panic attacks and talking it over with a licensed professional I figured it out! The panic attacks would start after I had been thinking too much about my future, comparing myself to others, and stressing about starting my career early.The solution for me? A change in mentality, understanding and scope. I had to train myself to not put excess stress on my future, to understand and be okay with the fact that I can achieve anything at my own pace. I also started replacing the stressful thoughts with thoughts about how I can achieve these goals instead.
Stopping It In Its Tracks
So, what do you do when it’s too late to prevent it from happening? There is something called the grounding technique, it’s when you distract yourself mentally and or physically from what you’re feeling and refocus on something else. One method is called 5-4-3-2-1, you start off by getting your breathing under control.Begin to take deep breaths counting five seconds to inhale and five seconds to exhale. Next we will go through the senses so if we use the order; seeing, hearing, smelling, touching, tasting – we will point out five things we see, four sounds we hear, three aromas we smell, two objects to touch, and one thing to taste.It helps to try and notice things you usually do not.
As an entrepreneur you may not always be in the position to take a long time getting this under control, or the freedom to use the 5-4-3-2-1 method. Some other helpful tips would be:
Use reassurance statements and self-kindness such as:
o “I am feeling fear, but I am safe”
o “I am strong, and I will get through this”
Doing math (This is my go-to method) – even if you’re not the best in math this will help distract you and get some practice in. I like to challenge myself and try long division in my head
Recitations and Music. Recite something you enjoy or puts you in a good place. Listen to music that soothes you, do not listen to music that makes you sad, angry, or any negative feelings.
Some other options would be:
Take Everything Into Consideration
Take a few deep breaths. Weigh the pros against the cons. Ask yourself, “What’s the worst that can happen?” Allowing yourself a brief moment for deep reflection can really ease any “spur of the moment” tension, and can also enable you to make better decisions by preventing you from taking actions hinged on emotions. Although self-observation primarily aids anxiety, you may also find this device to be beneficial in other aspects of life.
Meditation is very similar to the method above. In fact, you can consider this an additional step to the previous one. However, they do differ. Meditating is a deeper level of reflection. It consists of getting comfortable, placing yourself in a quiet setting, tracking your breathing and essentially calming the mind. By clearing your subconscious, you are becoming fully aware of yourself. As a matter of fact, MRI’s show that meditating frees up space in your brain’s frontal lobe – the component responsible for concentration and reasoning. For a more in-depth explanation and tutorial, check out Headspace.
Take A Break
Allocating time in your schedule to unwind is vital, especially when it comes to such an affliction as anxiety. Get some space. If you’re inside, moving to a bigger area or stepping outside can help calm you.
Nobody is perfect and things happen. What matters is we try and live through it. It is crucial to not be too down on yourself after you have experienced an attack or noticed your anxiety. In fact, one post activity you should get in the habit of is self-kindness. Outwardly and purposefully being kind to yourself stops you from putting yourself down too much which can make matters worse. Try a few similar reassurance statements altered to help you transition into this post anxious space.
Everyone is different, the main purpose of taking action is to shift yourself into a calmer and more relaxed safe place. If you have your own methods of reaching this then great! If these don’t work out for you, you can always brainstorm, learn yourself more, or see a professional. Now that you have a solution you will be able to limit the amount of attacks and their duration which frees up time to be you and enjoy yourself.