WORK-LIFE BALANCE

5 Tips for Dealing With Anxiety

Worry and anxiety are familiar feelings for most entrepreneurs. Here's what to do when it feels like things are spinning out of control.
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No matter how confident you are in your business, dealing with worry and anxiety--that fear of the unknown--is part of entrepreneurial life. Even the most successful founders know what it's like to lie awake at night wondering if they will make payroll that week.

That anxiety can take a huge toll on your body and your mind. Your heart rate and blood pressure go up. You get insomnia. You feel paralyzed. And you start making bad decisions.

In my practice as a nutritionist, I've found that taking better care of yourself can actually help mitigate those feelings of worry. Here are some healthy ways to deal with anxiety and stress and get back to being more productive:

1. Eat well.
Stress and anxiety makes you crave sugar and other junk food, but eating junk actually messes with your brain chemistry. Scarfing down that brownie may feel good now, but after the sugar rush wears off, you'll feel worse. Instead, reach for whole foods like fruit, vegetables, and complex carbohydrates such as brown rice and beans. If you need a snack, try carrots with hummus or a banana with some peanut butter.

2. Lay off the coffee.
Excessive amounts of coffee can deplete the serotonin levels in your brain and leave you feeling more jittery and anxious. Instead, try green tea, which has a fraction of the caffeine in coffee.

3. Exercise.
A good workout releases endorphins, which help you feel calmer and less stressed. Plus, exercise can actually help with problem solving. Stepping away from your desk can help clear your mind. And moving both sides of your body engages both sides of your brain, which may help you think more clearly.

4. Make a plan.
Get all the facts and make a decision about how you are going to handle it. Empowering yourself with a plan of action will help lessen your anxiety. Sometimes, it helps to mentally accept the worst possible outcome. That way, you can start thinking about solutions to the problem instead of worrying about the unknown.

5. Be thankful.
Instead of dwelling on everything that isn't going right in your life, think about all the things you love and give gratitude for those. When you focus on the positive, you make less room for the negative.
 
It may not help you make payroll, but engaging in healthy behaviors and positive thinking will go a long way towards helping you calm your mind.

IMAGE: nottinghamtrentuni/Flickr
Last updated: Apr 8, 2013

BARBARA MENDEZ | Columnist

Barbara Mendez is a nutritionist in New York City. For more information about her private practice, visit BarbaraMendezNutrition.com.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.



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