As a person who has struggled with anxiety most of my life, I’ve come to learn a few things about working with it. I define it for myself as “the attempt to control an uncontrollable situation in order to feel safe.”
Getting worked up, nervously pacing, impatience, micro-managing team members, criticism, irritability, worrying, concentration difficulty, being quick to anger, unfocused busyness, putting needless pressure on others, sleepless nights are all signs of anxiety.
Three strategies you may find helpful when dealing with anxiety:
1. Recognize indicators of your anxiety. Stop and acknowledge that you’re anxious. I find it helpful to pause and simply say to myself, “I’m anxious right now. And I am committed to finding helpful ways to deal with it in this moment.” I know when we are activated it’s tough to see it. But to avoid hurting ourselves or others, we have to be deliberate and disciplined about the practice of recognition.
2. Recognize that anxiety is a part of life. It’s a coping strategy. While it may have served you in the past, it’s not likely to be helpful to you today. A certain degree of anxiety seems to come with being conscientious. It’s not anxiety that is harmful. It’s what we do with it. Take a deep breath, recalibrate, and be present and relaxed – even if you still feel anxious. Some patience and compassion is recommended. What you don’t want to do is get anxious about being anxious.
3. Ask yourself what you’re afraid of. Then ask what are you trying to control in order to alleviate that fear. Know that fear is always about something in the future. Practice staying present, take whatever action needed that’s in front of you at this moment that will help you let go of control and fear, and keep walking calmly through whatever you’re afraid of.