I know lots of business owners are struggling with fear and uncertainty at the moment and it’s hard not to let that show. Anxiety is contagious though, just as contagious as the virus we are currently worried about. It’s heightened by the fact that social media is a constant stream of anxiety... we're not good enough, not successful enough, not doing enough. It's enough to drive you to distraction.
I’ve been doing some work with groups of young people and their biggest concerns at the moment revolve around uncertainty and isolation. They are looking to their leaders to spread calm and a feeling of safety. But how do you control your own anxiety, when there's plenty for you to be anxious about? Here's a three step approach which you might find helpful:
1. Recognise the feeling and call it out
See it for what it is. Anxiety is a feeling of worry or unease about something with an uncertain outcome. It's created by you, through your own thinking patterns. It's not inevitable. Notice that you’re feeling this. Call it out for what it is. Say to yourself: I'm having those anxious thoughts again, and I don't need to think this way.
2. Find a distraction
Occupy your brain with something unrelated. Sing inside your head, recite a phrase, imagine a place or a thing you love. Instead of putting your focus on the anxiety, you’re transferring your attention to something else. This distracts your brain. When it has to focus on something else, it 'forgets' about the anxiety for a few minutes.
3. Make a plan and put yourself in others' shoes
What can you do right now? What action can you take to relieve the anxiety? It might be calling someone to get a bit of perspective and another point of view. It might be doing a mundane task that moves you forward but doesn't need much brain power. What can you do then? If you are blasting out emails to the team...pause for a second to think of the impact your words might have. Will they be misinterpreted? How would you feel if you got that email? Is your own anxiety driving your actions? Will it make others anxious? It’s very easy to create anxiety in others, especially when they are isolated and may have lost some perspective. And an anxious team is not thinking straight and won't be productive.
Keep a cool head. Put yourself in others' shoes. Your business will thank you for it.
Being mindful of the impact you are having is vital at the moment - you want them to stay onside, you want them to stay productive, and you have a huge impact on that. If you continue to find your anxiety a struggle through these times, here are some tips to avoid catastrophising.