Tag: <span>Anxiety</span>

extreme close up photo of frightened eyes

5 Actionable Steps to Overcome Fear and Anxiety

Fear is a powerful emotion that we all experience in our lives, and it is something that can be very challenging to deal with, but you can learn how to overcome fear and anxiety.

When we are pursuing a new experience, like a new job opportunity, relationship, or starting a business, fear can hold us back. It can make us see challenges as insurmountable or make us over-prepare to the point that it slows our growth.

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Fear and Anxiety

Quote: Every time your fear is invited up, every time you recognize it and smile at it, your fear will lose some of its strength

“Every time your fear is invited up, every time you recognize it and smile at it, your fear will lose some of its strength.”

Thich Nhat Hanh 

The best way to deal with fear is to face it. In facing it, you get to see if the story you made up around the issue is true or what you may be lacking to help you move forward. The more we avoid the problem, the more anxiety we consequently cause around it. For example, if you are constantly thinking about whether you will do well on an upcoming exam, you can’t sleep. The consequent exhaustion then triggers even more anxiety because you can’t concentrate and study, further impacting your sleep– and just like that, the worry has just become a debilitating cycle, confirming your worst fear- you won’t be ready for the exam and will fail.

Instead, the goal has to become to lean into the fear so you can disarm it. What if you acknowledged what your worry and fear was in the first place instead of reacting to it. Could we possibly find a better response so it loses some of its strength?

How do fears get in the way of being successful?

Culturally, I’ve been raised to not speak over others, and I think I have this natural resistance to being seen, and it’s my kryptonite that shows up at the wrong time. I can still recall moments sitting “at the table” with people in my profession and listening to them give their opinions on things and wanting to give my two cents but struggling within myself to speak up. 

Fear and anxiety work like that to cripple you within yourself. 

Those experiences can be triggered by various fears like the fear of judgment, failure, or the fear of being alone, and sometimes even the fear of being successful. 

When challenged in that space, it can have this counter-response that looks like overthinking, avoiding opportunities, missed deadlines, low energy, feeling disconnected from your work, procrastination, perfectionism, irritability, or indecisiveness.

How can we overcome fear and anxiety?

Fear is a built in instinct to protect you, so we don’t want to get rid of it, but we do want to help our brains understand the moments we are in fact safe and don’t need that fear reaction. The most effective way to overcome fear, in that case, is to repeatedly do the thing that causes it, but in a safe and controlled way. During this process of exposure, coupled with some skills, you can learn to ride out the anxiety and fear until it naturally subsides.

When the emotion of fear or anxiety seems overwhelming, try to shift your focus to a healthier thought or a skill that will reduce the feelings, so it is more manageable. A stress-reduction approach like mindfulness or simply taking a break and disconnecting from the issue and going for a walk may help you better take the actions you need to be successful. I would also add to be patient and add some compassion into the process. Your mind is working to keep you safe when these responses are triggered. It can’t always tell the action you want to take isn’t a dangerous risk but one you can handle and necessary to improve your current situation.

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How to overcome the fears of growth as a professional

Start by identifying the fears holding you back from reaching your next level. Our thoughts are powerful, but they can be damaging and limiting when building out your dreams. The fear of failure is like the dark cloud that follows most professionals as they work on advancing their careers, especially through entrepreneurship. Rather than simply stopping people from being entrepreneurial, fear of failure can also serve as a motivator for success with a better understanding of your response dynamics. To help you better recognize and challenge your internal reactions to growth we put together some exercises to help you find those fears with the Believe Bigger Workbook available here.

Here are a few prompts from the workbook to challenge your mindset:

  1. Once you’ve identified a few of your fears, can you think of specific experiences from your life that might have formed these fears?
  2. What do you feel is holding you back from more significant success?
  3. Recall a time you were afraid. How did you move past the fear?
  4. Pause for a moment and identify and write about five of your strengths.
5 Actionable steps to overcome fear and anxiety. Prompts and steps to reduce fears and challenge your mindset.

To deepen this practice and find the root of self-sabotaging behaviors, try keeping a journal over a period of two or three weeks. Look for any patterns you notice, the source of those fears (family, culture, financial, criticism, etc), and their validity. Fear is often fed by false stories making your experience seem much worse than it really is.

In Summary:

  1. Lean into your fears. Figure out what it’s about, and if it is valid for the direction you are going.
  2. Practice stress reduction techniques like mindfulness or disconnecting from the source of distress at the moment.
  3. Shift your focus to more positive thoughts or emotions. Use your imagination or visualization to picture that same fearful experience with a positive outcome, and embrace the positive emotions you anticipate feeling with your successful outcome. The control and calm you experience during your visualization can actually help you get through the actual ordeal with more ease.
  4. Challenge your mindset around the fear with journal prompts like the one above and other exploratory resources like the Believing Bigger Workbook for Women in Business.
  5. Practice Compassion. Your mind is only trying to keep you safe.

Related Reads:

How to know if negative thinking is affecting your business

Why do we let ourselves down

At home treatment for children with anxiety

Amanda Fludd, LCSW-R is a Licensed therapist, speaker, and Mindset Coach for high achieving women in business. Her joy is addressing mental health on multiple levels from the boardroom to your virtual office.

Disclaimer: There are affiliate links on this page, which means we get a small commission of anything you decide to buy to support our tea-drinking habits at no cost to you. 

4 Useful Ways to Ease the Stress of Change for Women Who Lead

The mass exodus back to normal has heightened stress levels, and it’s important to acknowledge that change can be stressful. If you are someone who gets upset and loses focus when things don’t go as expected or strongly dislikes change, automatically expects the worst, and struggles to adapt, this piece is for you.

 

Do you think we are ready to return to ‘normal’? 

Well, whether we’re fully ready, we have to be prepared and adapt. In the ever-changing landscape of life and work, adaptability is a crucial skill for managers, leaders, and anyone looking to navigate change successfully. Adaptable people tend to be happier and more content as they’re not struggling against the resistance of change, and can skillfully ride the wave.

 

The Brain Behind Change

Our brain hates the unknown that comes with change, and that can show up as anxiety, which is your brain’s way of protecting you from the unfamiliar. However, that can mean saving you from a necessary or required action. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, “stress is a response to a threat in a situation. Anxiety is a reaction to the stress.” The threat is that feeling of not knowing and the associated fear of what could happen in the future. Sometimes that fear is rational, and sometimes not. Sometimes it’s about something that will happen in three minutes (getting on a call to close a deal, for example) or in 30 years (having enough money to retire).

Depending on how you respond to your brain’s conceptualization of the fear can make change or transitions so difficult. It’s easy to feel powerless in these moments, but your power is in the ways you decide to navigate change.

You can decide how you want to think about the situation and what you want to do about it.

We can’t resist returning to work, going back to college, or whatever transition is on the horizon, but you always have a choice within the change. I’m not dismissing that it won’t be hard at times, but this is about being skillful so you can continue to live, lead, and enjoy life.

Let’s jump to 4 quick tips to navigate change and ease the fear of transition:

  1. Notice when an interaction or the thought of a situation upsets you and examine why. Acknowledge out loud any unhelpful thoughts going through your mind, then take those thoughts and challenge their accuracy to determine whether they represent reality. Perhaps you can then find another way to think about them that allows you to move forward.
    How you think or what you are ruminating over is often connected to the experience of procrastination, perfectionism, overwhelm, or feeling unmotivated. Learn to challenge and change the thoughts behind those responses.
  1. Successful leaders often react to anxiety by working harder, holding themselves and others to impossibly high standards, only to cause further stress or burnout in themselves and others. Examine your use of time and what you are asking of others. Putting in place a support infrastructure that includes breaks for you and your team and time to discuss expectations openly.

 

  1. Find a practice that eases your stress. Sometimes our minds operate like a runaway train. If you can quiet your mind for just a moment, you may notice there is always a fork in the road. One road allows your anxious thoughts to derail you, and the other will enable you to inject more positive thoughts and intentional actions.This can look like daily mindfulness practices, laughing, or sometimes more high-intensity activities like running or a good cardio workout. These practices short circuits the stress response by getting you out of your head, incorporating your body, and allowing the experience of stress, anxiety, and worry to subside.
  2. Don’t stay on your island; build connections. You are an expert at what you do, and getting things done is your superpower. However, we all will face the challenge of transitions and change that can make you feel alone or cause you to isolate and withdraw. Do the opposite. Instead, try coming out of your office and chatting with a colleague, or reach out via text, call a friend or  maybe even perform a quick act of kindness. Be open to also ask for help or outsource tasks to create more time and space for wellbeing.

 

In this time of crisis and change, where many are experiencing anxiety for the first time, it is an opportunity to develop our ability to adapt and contribute to a culture the prioritizes the importance of emotional wellbeing.

 

Amanda Fludd, LCSW-R is a passionate advocate for positive workplace culture, supporting the ambitious mindsets of women, and improving mental health in all settings. The goal is to simply get you out of your head, so you can stress less, and focus on your success.

Make sure to register for “Catch your Breath” a free live mindful practice series for Minority Women Who Lead running through the end of July 2021. UPDATE: The series was such a success it WILL CONTINUE through the end of 2021. Every first Monday of the month.  #minoritymentalhealthmonth #strongcommunities

 

Brilliant Ways To Manage High Functioning Anxiety

by: Amanda Fludd, LCSW-R

Anxiety affects over 40 million people worldwide, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. It is one of the top 3 reasons people come into therapy. When you think about anxiety you usually correlate it with easily flustered, nervous, scared, and constricted because of impossible thoughts about uncertain outcomes. All of the above is true, but most recently we’ve seen an increase in successful clients at Kensho Psychotherapy, who can achieve high levels of success because of their anxiety, but still find themselves unhappy, anxious, and overwhelmed. High-functioning anxiety is the term used to describe folks who are ambitious, high achievers, and also anxious. Didn’t know that was a thing did you? Well, it is. You would be surprised to know that anxiety for them is constant and unpleasant, even though their accomplishments make it seem like everything is extraordinary. They however, secretly can’t enjoy their success, and are constantly at war with themselves and relentless expectations.

So how do you know if this is you? It may look like this:

• To-do lists for the to-do list
• Always expecting the worst in terms of your performance despite prior success (those are conveniently forgotten)
• A high demand for excellence that may show up as perfectionism
• Mental and physical exhaustion
• Constant overthinking or worry
• Jam-packed schedule due to an inability to say “no”
• The Workaholic – staying late to do just one more thing and not hesitating to take work home
• Never satisfied with gains and already thinking about what’s next
• Procrastination galore
• A clandestine fear of failure

 

Are you thinking, “Yes that is me?.” Often those who suffer from high functioning anxiety may ask themselves, “How did I get here?”. It can evolve from genetics, brain chemistry, or in response to personal life events (like a deep fear of failing and becoming like your parents, or underlying feelings of shame or guilt related to a trauma, so you work hard, ALL THE TIME) and is often an automatic process that is out your control.

Regardless of the reason, it’s not your fault! You may not have total control over the chemical make-up of your brain, and you certainly didn’t choose your life circumstances, but now it’s up TO YOU to figure it out.

 

This is where brilliance comes in to restore balance:

1. Get grounded. Clear your mind and recharge your energy by practicing techniques such as deep breathing and focusing on the present. When you are fully present, or have the mental dexterity to bring yourself back using your breath, it reduces anxiety. Think of it as training your mind to come back to center or back “home.”

Let’s practice:
Follow Your Breath

Dim the lights or close your eyes, and as you inhale (big breath in), trace the air as it enters your nose or mouth and goes into your lungs, and as you exhale (release), follow the air leaving your lungs and exiting your nose or mouth. Repeat for a few breaths.

This grounding technique gets more effective with practice. The key is to pay attention to your breathing, notice if your mind wanders, and if it does, say “that’s ok” and gently bring it back to the breath. Let your body lead and your mind will follow. Set a timer and try it for 2-3 minutes and build your practice from there.

Pause and Regroup

2. Evaluate your lifestyle – Gain the upper hand by treating your body like the queen or king that it is. Commit to going to bed an hour earlier every day this week to get more sleep (ok, pick one night to start), get in at least one healthy meal (go light on the carbs), and embrace some form of exercise. These slight changes are rejuvenating and helps you better tackle the mental mind field of anxiety.

Repeating to yourself “you got this” or another mantra while doing deep breathing exercises may be effective to reduce the experience of anxiety.

3. Utilize mantras – a positive personal statement that counters those unhelp automatic thoughts like “I’m never going to be successful” or “I messed up”. It can work wonders on one’s self-esteem, confidence, and even create a calming effect for you and your frazzled nerves. Try one like: “I am ____” and fill in the blank with what you need, like capable or strong. You can also try one of acknowledgment and reassurance, like “I am scared and I’m going to do this anyway”. There are even apps for this, so get connected and be consistent with your practice.

4. Practice saying “no” – often those with high-functioning anxiety overextend themselves by saying yes to every invitation thrown their way. Do yourself a favor and say “no thanks” every once in a while. You don’t even need to explain yourself or feel bad about it because having a healthy mind and choosing you first is reason enough.

5. Ask for help – You may be thinking, “I don’t want to burden anyone with my problems.” Many who struggle with these issues suffer in silence. Keep in mind that while deep breathing and affirmations go a long way, at some point you have to tackle the core issues you are probably avoiding. This is where therapy is dope and can help anxiety sufferers understand their love hate relationship with anxiety, unpack core beliefs, and teach how to break up with anxiety and enjoy your success. You deserve that.

 

Kensho Psychotherapy Services is located in Valley Stream, NY and specializes in Anxiety, Depression, and Trauma. Amanda Fludd LCSW-R is the Executive Director.

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