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Anxiety and Work: How to Deal with Anxiety as an Entrepreneur

Memory is a funny thing.
Somehow, I manage to forget all important stuff like where I left my keys, when I paid the bills last, or if I turned the stove off after making breakfast.
And yet, I can remember a lot of things that I’d really rather forget.
Deal with Anxiety as an Entrepreneur
Pin me please ūüėČ

Like the day my dad accidentally ran over my pet kitten when I was seven and all the bad that ensued after that.

The day my wisdom teeth were pulled. (#I’dRatherGiveBirth!)

Or the day I had my first panic attack…

It’s a feeling I’ll never forget.

The racing heartbeat.

The sense of the world closing in on me.

How I felt as though I couldn’t breathe. And how I completely broke down.

Panic attacks and general anxiety are nothing new to me.

As far as family history goes, mine is fraught with anxiety and other mental and emotional health issues.

Though I don’t personally suffer from depression, general anxiety is something I‚Äôve dealt with for the better part of my life.

Like a lot of people who deal with this, I have my triggers.

Large crowds of people in small, crowded spaces. Or New York.

Yeah. Not a fan of Manhattan… like, at all.

I don’t like most downtown areas of cities for this fact.

Phone calls that I’m not prepared to take. Networking at conferences. Speaking at seminars… (I did that already and just about died!)

There are plenty more…

Like writing this post, for example.

Definitely not easy for me to do, but I’m doing it anyway.

Why?

Because I know that I’m not the only entrepreneur who deals with these types of stresses, and I think that the more we talk about these issues, the healthier and more sympathetic we can all become.

As you’ve probably read in my blog once or twice before, I suffer from what I’ve dubbed the Wonder Woman complex ‚ÄĒ this silly notion I get in my head where I think I have to be able to do everything and hold the whole world on my shoulders.

It’s stupid.

Logically, impossible!

And still, I’m like this.

So when I open up and say that I’m not as amazingly strong as I like to think and that I struggle with anxiety, believe me when I tell you that it is not easy for me to do this.

But, I didn’t just start this blog to make money.

I did it for something more:

To make an impact on others.

Anxiety, depression, and other mental health disorders are so common today, and they are on the rise.

Problems like these don’t just evaporate when you make the jump into entrepreneurship.

In some cases, they’re aggravated or even triggered.

So if I can open a small window of communication on this topic, then by golly, I’m gonna do it!

Let’s Be Frank About Anxiety and¬†Work

How to deal with anxiety

Want some cold hard facts about anxiety and work? Here’s a few:

Approximately 40 million adults in the US alone suffer from some anxiety disorder.

Globally, it’s estimated that more than 350 million people suffer from depression.

These statistics¬†don’t include other mental health disorders like people who are bi-polar or the countless others who go undiagnosed and without help.

It’s staggering really…

Granted, we all deal with stress and anxiety.

It’s not something that will just evaporate¬†though we’d all love it if it did.

Personally, though, I’ve found that even though I love my work and I’m proud of myself for the small measure of success I’ve had doing what I do, my anxiety levels have been at an all-time high.

I’m a working mom that gets to stay at home with my kids while I work.

I know that I’m very blessed to have this opportunity, but it’s also not easy.

I loved this quote I found in¬†an Inc. article on this topic of “Entrepreneurial Anxiety” because it illustrated the feeling perfectly:

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“It’s like a man riding a lion. People think, ‘This guy’s brave.’ And he’s thinking, ‘How the hell did I get on a lion, and how do I keep from getting eaten?”

Okay, okay.

Maybe that’s a little dramatic.

But when the kids are sick, no one is sleeping through the night, I’ve got deadlines to meet, meetings to be rather involved in and all the blechy life drama stuff all comes together, well..

It’s a perfect storm that makes me feel very open and vulnerable to fading into a mental place I’d rather not be.

Perhaps you’ve felt something similar?

The danger that I’ve found with these emotions is how harmful they are when we turn them inward.

Someone who may not have a genetic slant towards depression may experience these anxieties more often than they used to or ever did before, and it can be a slippery slope downhill from there.

That’s not something I want anyone to endure if it can be avoided, so I put together a few things that I’ve found helpful and that have been proven to help people deal with anxiety.

7 Tips on How To Deal with Anxiety as an Entrepreneur

1.) Write it out

This is something I took to doing as a teenager.

Having a journal to place my disquieting thoughts and walk myself through why I felt out of sorts has served me well over the past ten years or so.

dealing with anxiety and work: write it out

After reading articles like this one, I understand why.

Like many writers, I can express myself better in written words than verbal ones.

However, the power here is that you can get all that anxiety you’re internalizing out of your head and body.

I’m a believer in the idea that negative thoughts can make you ill, but getting them out and on something that is tangible is a great way to help you maintain your health.

2.) Find Someone to Talk to About It

This may be easier for some and harder for others, but it’s nonetheless a good idea.

My husband and I both run our own businesses, so we understand the stresses that come from our work.

As that’s the case, he’s my constant confidant and vice versa and it’s been amazingly helpful to getting my feelings out of my head.

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That was one of the reasons behind why my friend, Gina Horkey and I partnered up in launching our Mamapreneur Mastermind Group.

As a work-at-home mom, I wanted to find a sounding board where I could connect with other working mamas that understood the struggle that uniquely comes to parents that work while being their kids’ primary caretaker.

It’s been amazing to connect with the mom and women in our group.

If you’d like to join, we are opening the group again in March to new members, and I’d love to get the chance to get to know you!

Click here to join the waitlist!

3.) Digitally Unplug

This is a hard one, but it’s probably one of the best things you can do for your sanity.

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I do quite a bit of work as a social media manager and everything is linked to my phone. That means that my phone is constantly ringing and dinging in a way that could easily drive me crazy.

This generation of people (like me) is addicted to screens.

We have TVs in every room of the house and phones that keep us connected to the whole world.

While this technology has its advantages, it’s not all that healthy for us.

Entrepreneurs especially can have a hard time with this.

We’re always checking our email, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and many other apps.

We do this because we want to be prompt about responding.

And while I understand, you need to set aside some time to digitally detox your head.

There was a fascinating article on Fast Company about how great a digital detox can be for people.

It covered how neuroscientists studied CEOs, entrepreneurs, and a few others when they spent some time without devices and in each other’s¬†company.

They learned that the unplugging helped these people to

  • Have better posture
  • Create deeper friendships
  • Improve memory
  • Sleep better
  • Gain new perspectives

You can read the whole thing right here.

I’d highly encourage you to do your own research about the benefits of a digital detox.

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Even something small like keeping your phone out of your room at night, or turning off all your screens after a certain time at night can be a huge help.

My family rule is that there are no phones at the table during dinner and we all eat dinner at the table together.

We spend a ton of time together as a family anyway, but the dinner table is a WiFi dead zone.

4.) Watch What You Eat

It may sound odd, but some foods can actually trigger anxiety or panic attacks.

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Though I’ve known this, I didn’t have trouble with food doing this to me until recently.

People who meet me quickly learn two things about me:

  1. I LOVE coffee, and
  2. I LOVE beer

Coffee is my first love.

I’m a true blue addict.

However, recently, I’ve had to cut back my caffeine intake significantly. (*sob*)

I usually only drink about 2 cups of coffee a day, but the past few months have proven even that to be too much for my body.

If I drink too much then I can pretty much guarantee that my whole day will be ruined with that knot in my stomach, scrambled thoughts and the feeling of just being on edge.

Though I hate to miss out on a cup of coffee, I have to for my health.

Coffee isn’t the only thing that has triggered anxiety. I’ve also had to cut out hard liquor, wine, and light beer. (Dark beer is totally fine… strange right?)

I’m learning that I’m not 15 anymore and need to start taking care of my body if it’s going to take care of me.

If you notice that you start to feel off after eating certain foods or by missing meals, start taking note in your phone or a notepad.

Avoid those food triggers and see how you start to feel. Also, read that post I linked to above.

It’s really enlightening.

5.) Start Exercising

This is something else that I’ve started doing that has been helping me so much.

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I’m an ex-gymnast and I honestly don’t mind the sweat and training, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy.

Psh, far from it!

Especially after two kids, bad knees from me being stupid on a snowboard, and a bad back from a couple car accidents!

But let me tell you…

The days where I work out and watch the type of foods I eat versus the days I just let it all go to pot are like night and day when it comes to my overall disposition.

Having that outlet is very cleansing in just about every aspect of my life, and while I don’t work out every day, I want to get to a place where I am.

Exercise has been shown to help people who want to figure out how to deal with anxiety.

I know it’s not easy, but why not talk to your doctor about the type of exercise you can do and figure out a plan to get you off your desk chair and breaking into a sweat a few times a week?

6.) Surround Yourself with Positive, Upbuilding People

We are the people we associate with.

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And negative people will always find a way to wiggle in, rob you of your joy, and get you down.

Those are the ones we have to learn to cut out of our lives.

The hardest part is that sometimes these ones we need to cut out of our life are friends or family, which can bring on its own set of struggles and stresses.

But sometimes you just gotta do you.

Out with the bad, in with the good.

7.) Don’t be afraid to get help if you think you need it

Sometimes, there are things that no amount of exercise and healthy eating can fix.

If your anxiety or depression is getting worse, you’re having odd mood swings you can’t explain or you’re having thoughts of harming yourself then please, please, please…

Do not ignore it.

Don’t brush it off.

If you think that you might need help, then talk to a trusted friend or family member about your thoughts regarding this and whether they agree that you should talk to a doctor.

My husband lost his father to mental illness, and I have more friends that have experienced the same sort of loss.

Talk to someone, and if you need help, don’t be afraid to go looking for it.

Wrapping It Up

I should buffer all of this above and below that I am not a psychologist or a doctor. What has worked for me might not work for you. And you should always talk to your doctor before implementing any major changes that can affect your health ‚ÄĒ even if it is to your benefit.

However, I think talking about this topic is something that can help more than just myself.

Maybe this post is something no one will like or even read.

But maybe…

Maybe it will help one person for the better or open the door for some conversation.

And if it does, then I’m happy that I swallowed some pride and spent the time to write it.

If you think this post is worth sharing, then I’d love for you to post it to Pinterest or share in a Tweet.

What are your thoughts work and anxiety? Do you deal with anxiety? If so, what have you found that helps you cope?

Ari Rule

Hi! I'm Ariel ‚ÄĒ a Freelance Writer and Marketer for hire. I started Freelance Freedom Fighter to help others like myself who wanted help making a living from their words. When I'm not writing, I'm sipping on coffee and spending time with my awesome Hubby and kids.

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4 Comments

  1. This is an excellent piece, Ariel. As someone who has suffered with a severe anxiety disorder in the past and who manages anxiety day-to-day now, I found this really refreshing. For me, the biggest thing I can do to help when I’m feeling overwhelmed is to step away from it all and get a new perspective from a distance. I go for a walk, or see friends and family so I can remind myself that there is more to life than work and worrying!

  2. As someone with chronic PTSD, Depression, and Anxiety, I can definitely relate to this. Thank you for sharing your perspective with us!

    I have found that one of the best things for me to do is go to listen to some calming music, or take a shower to refresh and feel “clean” again. I know it seems silly, but it helps feel like the negativity is washing away. That may be more with in relation to my PTSD, but it definitely helps me when I feel overwhelmed. Even just washing my hands (when a shower is not exactly a possibility) helps a lot.

    Your suggestion to “write it out” is also a big one. Letting it all out to my always-understanding journal or notebook is one of the most the therapeutic things I can do when things get overwhelming.

    Thank you again for sharing this great post!

    – Alexia P. Bullard
    http://www.alexiapbullard.com

  3. Elna Cain

    Hey Ariel,

    What a great post. I can relate to the coffee thing (I
    don’t like beer though..). My husband, who also works form home (we are
    very similar girl!) tells me I’m a wreck after my second cup of coffee
    mid day. I normally have two (sometimes three) and I’m realizing it’s
    not the best for me either.

    Anxiety is very real for many people.
    And we all have different ways to dealing with it. For me, I end up
    procrastinating, which then cycles to anxiety and then back to
    procrastinating. I’m working to change that though.

    1. I hear a lot of people have this problem with coffee. I think if I was moving around a lot, the coffee wouldn’t affect me as much as it does with me just sitting or standing at my desk. I’m hoping it all gets a little easier with some effort on my end ūüėČ

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