Dealing with anxiety can be heavy, especially if you’re surrounded by people who don’t know how to deal with those who have it. They think you can just turn it off. Or, they’ll make a non-comforting statement like “just get some rest” or even something more offensive such as “calm down”. They assume you’re being dramatic or making excuses about why you’re struggling with certain things in certain areas in your life.
As online business owners, we hear about brand strategy; what to do and what not to do to become successful. We also hear about self-care, getting rest, and taking breaks when needed. What I rarely see is the discussion about mental health in business, especially anxiety. The business mindset is already a daily battle of what to create and market next. Dealing with daily battles of business coupled with battles of anxiety can negatively affect anyone who doesn’t know how to cope with it. It could discourage someone from moving forward.
If your struggle with anxiety is causing interruptions in your business, there are a few things you must do to maintain sanity: treat yourself better and teach people how to treat you.
Treat yourself better
A lot of people that deal with anxiety must stay away from the things or people who flare it. We can’t blame external sources for our struggles until we get a handle on internal sources. We can’t understand how to handle anxiety if we aren’t protecting ourselves from episodes that occur. We can’t treat ourselves better until we stop openly inviting anxiety into our lives and business.
I personally deal with anxiety. It affects my business more than I’d like to admit. The thought of being vulnerable makes me anxious. It makes me bite my nails and grind my teeth. It makes the left side of my face numb. Because I am aware of different things that trigger different mental responses, I stay away from those things if possible. All of these things affect the growth of my business.
My business’s growth is slower than others because I have to make sure I can handle what’s to come. When it’s time to teach online or launch a new product, there is a lot of mental preparation before telling anyone what my brand’s next moves are. I lock myself inside a protective bubble until I am able to manage how to react to certain things. When I do perform, it’s much more effective. This process works for me. It is a daily challenge, but I fight everyday.
Before I came to the conclusion that I should move slower in business, I faced many periods of stress. Over time, I’ve realized that a lot of things that trigger my anxiety are results I’ve unconsciously invited. I’ve also learned that anxiety is only a mental beast if you allow it to be. If you’re struggling with anxiety in your business and want to manage it, your first step is to acknowledge it then take the following actions:
Unplug more often
You have to learn when to stop consuming content and information. Watching and listening to all of the noise online is like plugging your brain into a socket and letting all of the energy get sucked out of you. There are so many brand messages, inspirational posts, success stories, negative content, etc. online that it affects your thought process.
If you’re a creative entrepreneur and have “shiny object” syndrome, you may suffer more than others. Shiny object syndrome means you want or feel the need to try or have any and everything that looks good when you see it. There is a saying, “You can do anything. You just can’t do everything”. This saying is perfect for business owners with anxiety.
Learn to unplug when your thoughts get cloudy. Learn to spend time doing things that clear your mind or calm your nerves. Take social media breaks often. Put your phone on airplane mode. Spend more time with yourself until you re-charge again.
Avoid obvious triggers
If certain things or people flare your anxiety, do your best to stay away from them. If working with certain types of clients make you anxious, create boundaries for your business. Pre-screen them before accepting their money. Make sure the chemistry is right before working with them. If reading certain types of content makes you anxious, avoid those types of articles.
For example, I had a talk with a friend who told me that she gets discouraged when she reads income reports. Not because she doesn’t think that she can attain certain levels of achievement, but because she usually looks at reports that are way above her position in business. For instance, she is 2 years into her business but reads income reports to get tips from someone earning well over six figures. She gets excited initially, then overwhelmed with ideas. The over excitement drains her and she becomes stuck. Now that she is stuck, she becomes anxious. It is a snowball effect. This behavior is repetitive and an obvious trigger. If looking at income reports makes you feel worse than better, you have to stop reading them.
Find logical coping strategies
When you unplug from social media and make an effort to recharge, find things to do that will motivate you to keep going or to help you relax. I find it hard to take a break mentally. I may stop working, but my mind stays on all the tasks left undone. So to give myself a break, I get active because being idle does not work for me. It causes more stress.
If you find yourself feeling the same way when you try to take breaks, do the same. Choose to exercise, to travel, or to visit someone who brightens your spirit. Avoid idle time if it won’t help you relax. Avoid comfort food or drinks as well. They will negatively affect your health and create a cycle of more anxiousness.
Teach people how to treat you
Teaching people how to treat you will help you a lot. Most times, people don’t understand what feeling anxious is because they aren’t made the way we are. They process information differently. They cope with things differently. Unfortunately, they think everyone should respond to life’s circumstances the same way they do. To win the battle with anxiety, make sure you do the following as well:
Tell people how you cope
Explain what you deal with to the people you interact with the most. Tell them how you process information and deal with challenges. Explain what you need from them. Do not assume they should know how to treat you. Most times, people don’t know what you’re dealing with. This includes family, friends, and especially business colleagues.
Once they learn how to treat you, they will be more patient with you. They will learn how to help you work through your thought process or just give you space to let you figure it out. If after you explain what you need from them and they don’t respond, go back to the point in the beginning of this post: treat yourself better: avoid obvious triggers.
Learn to say NO!
This is a common issue with many business owner. Many people don’t know how to say no. Whether it’s taking on too much work or accepting projects because you want to be nice, saying no when the time is right will help you manage your anxiety, plus create boundaries for you and your business. “No” is a complete sentence. Become well acquainted with it. Use it often. It will protect you from a lot of mistakes and most importantly, protect your mental peace.
Anxiety, among other mental health challenges, are more present in business owners than discussed. Once you understand how things and people affect your mental health, it’s easy to protect yourself and others from triggering it. Be mindful of things you do to unconsciously invite anxiety into your business. Create boundaries or safeguards to help you win the battle with anxiety. It can be conquered.
P.S. If you have an advanced case of anxiety, you can always seek medical advice from a licensed professional.
About the author
Natalie Greagor, creator at strategistcafe.com, is a personal brand and online business strategist who teaches creative entrepreneurs how to build influence in their niche, grow their brand online, and get paid on autopilot.