The number of people who struggle with anxiety is rising each year and the pandemic has certainly heightened this. If the past year has made you feel more anxious and you’re feeling apprehensive about a return to “normal”, you’re not alone.
Although anxiety is something that is very personal, we experience it in all sorts of situations, including the workplace. Many of the managers and leaders that I work with mention anxiety as one of the things they struggle with.
I know how they feel.
I’m naturally quite an anxious person which I think was triggered by my tendency to want to be in control combined with my shy personality.
We all feel different physical symptoms for anxiety. You could have a racing heart, feel very hot, sweat, be unable to think straight or shortness of breath. For me, it was a nervous stomach and nausea.
Something that might really help you with identifying and calming your anxiety is recognising what physical symptoms you get and seeing those as a signal that you’re feeling anxious and that you need focus on figuring out what’s triggering it.
Anxiety itself isn’t an emotion. It’s a symptom of other emotions.
When you are feeling anxious, it’s important to understand that there are emotions underneath it that need your attention.
One of the most helpful analogies I’ve learnt when it comes to anxiety is the poem The Guesthouse by Rumi.
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
Instead of shutting the door to some emotions, we should invite all of them in, understanding that all visiting emotions are temporary and will pass through. When you allow your emotions in and sit with them, you are able to better understand why you’re feeling them and how you can help yourself through it.
I find it so useful to remember that there’s no need to be afraid of certain emotions.
Anxiety can feel uncomfortable, overwhelming and sometimes even scary. It’s natural to want to avoid those feelings but if you welcome it in as a guest, you will be able to understand why you’re feeling that way and how you can work through it.
In episode 54 of the Influence & Impact podcast at 14:30 minutes there is a guided meditation I recorded for you to use whenever you’re feeling anxious and you need to recognise and deal with the emotions beneath that anxiety.
Anxiety and worrying is usually intertwined and many female leaders worry about their responsibilities and whether they’re doing a good enough job as a manager or colleague.
If you’d like to be able to stop worrying and focus all that energy and attention on much more positive and productive things, then reserve your place at my free workshop - How To Worry Less About Work.
I share 5 practical strategies that you can use to worry less and feel calmer and more confident. You’ll also learn what successful leaders do focus their time and attention on, and my framework for having more influence and impact as a woman in a leadership role.
Sign-Up here: https://carlamiller.lpages.co/worry-masterclass/
If you’d like to hear the full podcast episode, you can access it here: https://www.carlamillertraining.com/podcast
I’d love to hear your experiences or your thoughts in the comments.
For more articles on the issues that impact women leaders at work follow Carla Miller on LinkedIn
Find out about the various ways Carla works with women leaders and organisations on her website www.carlamillertraining.com