Anxiety is often caused by a fear of something you believe may happen, rather than an actual event. Be aware of yourself and recognise when you start to feel anxious. Breathe slowly to help you to focus, then identify the specific thing that is causing your anxiety. What is it that you think might happen? Why do you believe this will happen. You may be thinking of several possible scenarios or outcomes. Look at each one objectively and establish what it is about each possible situation that makes you anxious. Some situations are out of your control but you can control how you respond or react.
Ask yourself these questions:
What specifically am I afraid will happen?
What is the likely outcome of the situation I am imagining?
What action can I take to avoid this situation from occuring?
How have I dealt with situations like this in the past?
If I am unable to avoid the situation from occuring, what can I do to minimise it’s impact, using the skills and strengths I already have?
Whatever the outcome, how important will this feel one week from now? Or one month?
Let’s look at the example of being stuck in traffic and feeling stressed and anxious. Are you worried about being late for work? There is likely to be a much more specific outcome that is making you anxious. So what are the possible outcomes of being late? You could get behind with your workload and beunable to catch up, or are you worried about being in trouble with your boss if you are late? Are you already envisaging having to spend the rest of the day working extra hard to try and catch up, apologising to customers and colleagues affected by you falling behind? Are you dreading a difficult conversation with your boss about timekeeping?
Accept the things that you cannot control, in this case the traffic. You can, however, control your beliefs, your reaction and your response. In this example you could take back control by phoning ahead to warn the boss that you will be late. Agree to work through your break or stay late to catch up. Think of the tasks you need to do and change the priorities is necessary, so that urgent work is done first. Understand that your boss may have to speak to you about being late, but don’t take it personally. Remind yourself that this is just part of their responsibility when running a business. The conversation may happen, but then you can move forward.
Putting things in context and seeing the bigger picture makes them much easier to handle. The lack of control can be stressful enough in itself, but breaking a situation down into elements that you can control makes it much more manageable.
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