Are you under intense pressure at work? Perhaps you're a busy entrepreneur and founder of a startup racking up 60 hours per week to keep your business afloat. Or the CEO of a company that just got handed three months to turn the ship around.
Whatever high-impact role you're in (it could also mean you're the receptionist managing an insane amount of calls per day as the gatekeeper of a growing company), things like anxiety, burnout, constant worry, and even depression may be par for the course.
Mental health is serious business, and not staying on top of yours can seriously affect how you perform. If things are turbulent right now and anxiety is beating up on you, you can get your peace back. But it takes looking in the mirror, acknowledging the truth, and making changes.
Here are eight ways to take control.
1. Don't figure things out by yourself.
Whatever problems you're facing now, they will only amplify if you isolate yourself and think you can handle it all on your own. If that's you, your first move is to reach out and seek community and support. Then go to battle to defeat your depression or anxiety with trusted loved ones at your side. When you can believe that you are not alone in this and have everything you need to go into battle--resources, support groups, counselors and coaches, fellow peers, family members, friends--your chances of recovery are much quicker.
2. Be real with how you feel.
Self-confession is key. Don't deny your feelings--they are legitimate and they don't make you weak or broken. Once you embrace them and come to terms that you're powerless over your condition, work in community and accountability in making drastic new lifestyle changes to deal with your emotions.
3. Be OK with some things being out of your control.
Many times, your worries are a direct result of the fact that you're not in control of everything. The things that are in your control, you can manage just fine. So take your foot off the gas pedal, take one thing at a time, and focus on what's immediately in front of you. This will help to ease some of the discomfort you experience from your anxiety.
4. Practice self-care.
Quite truthfully, this whole article is about self-care. But practically speaking, you want to start pursuing activities that bring you peace and joy, and that put bounce back in your step. You also want to take care of your mind, body, and spirit. What is it that you love to do? What are some hobbies that have been buried for years? How's that exercise routine you've been neglecting? How's that fast food diet working for you? When was the last time you connected to your Higher Power?
5. Be conscious of your intentions.
Throughout the day, check in with yourself. When you sense that control may be slipping away, pause, take a breath, and revisit your intention. Take notice of how the quality of your work shifts every hour, as you become more conscious of your intentions.
6. Focus on positive thoughts.
If you're feeling anxious, move. Literally move -- go outside and get some fresh air. Put on your earbuds and start listening to your favorite relaxing music (give the speed metal or gangsta rap a break) while going for a brisk walk. Try to take your mind away from what's bothering you. Focus as you walk on positive thoughts that will make you feel safe, accepted, loved, and honored. When you're at homeostasis, reflect on how fortunate and blessed you actually are.
7. Practice mindfulness.
Mindfulness is one of the best-kept secrets to help busy people deal with anxiety. You can practice it by intentionally putting the focus on your emotions, and accepting in a nonjudgmental way whatever thoughts and sensations you're experiencing in the moment. Matt Tenney, author of The Mindfulness Edge, summarizes it like this:
We train our awareness so that we become less distracted by our own thinking, which allows us to enjoy our lives more, to be more present with people, and to see our world, both inner and outer, with greater clarity.
8. Train your brain to stop the fear response.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt famously said, "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself." It's this fear that paralyzes you before you make that super important call, walk on stage for a keynote the first time, or introduce yourself to the girl of your dreams. The anticipation of fear kicks in and you turn to Jell-o. But after you pull it off, you realize you're not in danger and no monster ate you. So training your brain to accept that there's no threat will help you to switch off the fear response. You'll soon realize that it's the fear of fear that you fear, nothing else. And that will eventually become easy to manage.