School is out, and the sun seems at the highest point in the sky, and so is our anticipatory anxiety. There is so much we want to do, see, and accomplish that our minds are like a runaway subway car bellowing through the city. I want to travel, finally, write a book, maybe read a book, take a course that has a book, think I need to schedule my physical, paint my living room, take a day off, and head to the beach, but oh my god- summer is almost over! And on and on and on until panic kicks in. Sound familiar?
Racing thoughts, unlike subway cars, often don’t come to a stop on their own, with our minds quickly advancing from a single topic to multiple unrelated ideas; it’s an experience that quickly disrupts your focus and raises your anxiety.
Entrepreneurs and ambitious women who lead are no strangers to anxiety. They’re just as susceptible as the rest of the population, and dealing with it effectively requires a better understanding of mental health. While we’ve made significant gains around the stigma of mental health, we often don’t recognize its role in daily functioning, specifically how common anxiety is. An estimated 275 million people suffer from anxiety disorders. That’s around 4% of the global population, and according to the world economic forum, 62% of those suffering from anxiety are female (170 million).
A hallmark of anxiety is the impact on your thinking process and physical response. It can look like:
- Thoughts going a mile a minute
- Trouble sleeping at night and a mind that is not able to “shut off”
- Procrastinating on tasks
- Second-guessing your abilities
- An inability to relax, tension headaches, sweaty palms, racing heartbeat
What’s important to know is while this can directly impact your ability to get things done, there are things you can do to solve the stress of anxiety and still enjoying the summer (or whatever season it is).
Embrace the power of Curiosity
By learning to tune into your experience around anxiety, we can short circuit your reaction to it and establish a new neural pathway to boot.
Recognize. I encourage clients to think about or recognize what they are thinking about. Start to notice the thoughts driving your worries and stress. Ask yourself is it helpful? How does this make me feel in my body? Do I need to think about this right now?
Focus on your thoughts, and with less judgment.
We are sometimes our worst critics, but try curiosity over judgment. Getting curious about your experience will help you shift from reacting to responding, and interrupt your typical operating system, which creates the opening for something better.
Release. Letting go of what no longer serves you takes courage, but change and growth are just outside your comfort zone. Find and release the thought of worry by imaging it floating away like a balloon. For the physical feelings of anxiety, like fear and tension, breathe deeply into that spot until it expands and then exhale, letting it go. Let go of what’s familiar, whether a limiting belief or an old way of responding.
Respond. Once you begin to slow your thoughts and settle your automatic physical response, you can create space to act from a more intentional space. Here you can write out your clear goals for the next few months, or even for today or in the next hour. Or maybe decide to speak and act from a more mindful space. Or finally, make a clear request with the shadow of intense emotions and most importantly, take a new action.
Which of the 3 r’s will you focus on for the rest of this week? Share in the comments below.
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 help you get out of your head, 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 beginning July 19th, 2021. #minoritymentalhealthmonth #strongcommunities