The feeling of anxiety can be a constant buzz, one that underlies every thought you make or decision you need to reach. And when it gets particularly bad, it can have you feeling both wired up and afraid of something that may never happen, while also feeling drained and defeated.
For entrepreneurs especially, doubt and fear can lead to less than optimal decisions, with potentially devastating consequences for their companies and employees. Moreover, industry leaders facing anxiety can find it difficult to find time to tackle the issue when they have to face the stress of dealing with partners, clients, and investors every day.
To help highlight some approaches you can use to recenter yourself, 13 members of the Young Entrepreneur Council discuss their methods for coping with anxiety. Here’s what they said:
1. Analyze Your Thoughts
When I first started my business, I would get crushing anxiety when I started thinking about the numbers and fine details. I got over this by stopping myself as I was thinking my negative thoughts and asking “why?” Nearly every time there was no reason to feel anxious; I was anticipating things that hadn’t happened yet. The point is, analyzing your thoughts helps you defuse your anxiety and doubt.
2. Stop to Breathe
It sounds simple, but breathing can have a positive impact on anxiety and fear. It’s common to get worked up over things that don’t warrant our reaction. When you stop to breathe, you allow your brain to catch up with your racing thoughts. Once you can analyze the situation logically, anxiety tends to melt away from your thoughts.
3. Consider the Worst-Case Scenario
By asking yourself “what’s the worst that could happen?” we often realize that it isn’t as bad as you think. This allows us to go into that situation without fear of failing or doubt because, either way, you’ll be OK and figure things out. Once you’re OK with either outcome, it allows you to perform better and increase your chances of success.
4. Try to Boost Your Confidence
When I am feeling doubt or anxiety, I try to boost my confidence. I start by focusing on past accomplishments to begin to cultivate a mindset of confidence and joy. Also, it helps ease my anxiety and remind me that I have been in this situation before and I overcame it. I know that if I accomplished something in the past, I can do it again.
5. Focus on the Processes
To build a successful business, you have to develop effective and efficient workflows and processes. It’s all about reasoning and evidence. Anxiety is disruptive, but by focusing on processes and systems, and ensuring that they’re as rigorous and efficient as possible, I can be confident that the business is on a sound footing and I don’t have to spend time worrying about what might go wrong.
6. Make Yourself Uncomfortable
Make a habit of challenging yourself with learning hobbies and skills. Practice change and making yourself uncomfortable. Just like practicing for any sport or presentation, do it enough and it becomes routine and natural.
7. Think Critically About Your Choices
I feel doubt and fear often but try to use them as a tool to improve the quality of my decision-making. These emotions give me pause and force me to think critically about my choices and then remind myself that these emotions are natural deterrents. The only way to get away from them is to go through them one step at a time.
8. Be Transparent With Friends
Leaders might not face unique problems, but they face enhanced problems. It’s normal to have emotions, but you can’t be blowing up in front of your team every other day. If I feel anxious, I talk to friends — typically founders that have gone through similar situations, who are able to relate on a different level and put things into perspective. It’s cathartic.
9. Focus on the Present
It’s said that fear comes from worrying about the future and anxiety comes from worrying about the past. When you focus on the now, which can be accomplished through meditation, you’ll more likely than not find that your worries dissipate. Logically, there’s no point in worrying about what may or may not happen, because there are endless possibilities. Meditation can help convince you of this.
10. Practice Daily Meditation
Unless you have a serious anxiety disorder, a daily meditation practice will go a long way. The calming effects of meditation have been proven in countless studies and it’s something that has helped me a lot over the years as an entrepreneur. Use an app such as Calm or Headspace for just 10 minutes a day and keep a written log of your daily anxiety levels ranked from one to 10.
11. Write It Out
A good way to tackle anxiety is by writing it out. I find that when I write down all my worries on paper, it helps get them out of my mind and I’m able to think more clearly. Plus, by seeing your worries written out on paper, it’s easier to analyze them, judge whether those feelings are valid or not, and come up with solutions.
12. Practice Self-Talk
The mind is a powerful thing. It can make or break you. So when it is trying to break you, remember that you can overcome it. Using self-talk is a great way to calm yourself down. Reassure yourself that you will get through this time, that this is just your mind playing games with you, and that in the past, you overcame obstacles just like this.
13. Talk to Your Doctor
There has been a giant stigma against mental health and I feel like we are just starting to come out of it. If you suffer from anxiety, talk to your doctor about it. Sometimes a fix can be as easy as exercising and eliminating some foods from your diet, but sometimes you might find that you need medication to help yourself out. Don’t be ashamed of that. Be proud of yourself for getting help.