You might think that only people with little means worry about not having money. In fact, in our practice we help extremely successful people who are surprisingly anxious about money and career issues. A number of our most highly productive clients use the fear of losing everything as their primary motivator. While that can work, it takes quite a toll.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 19% of U.S. adults suffer from an anxiety disorder, and 31% will deal with a disorder at least once in their lifetime. Even millennials feel the pressure; they are often referred to as the “anxious generation.”
While some anxiety when you are dealing with a difficult situation is common, the problem is when it becomes crippling and affects your ability to think clearly and make decisions. If you find that you regularly expect the worst outcome, see things as all good or all bad, or imagine what people think of you in negative terms, these tips from the Harvard Business Review may help:
- Recognize the signs. Figure out your pattern before an anxiety attack, so you can take steps to “divert your brain” away from what is causing your stress. Also remember that you survived it the last time it happened.
- Write down your thoughts. In our anxiety, we only consider one possibility, but we can force ourselves to consider other outcomes. Draw a T-square, with Fear in one heading, and Fact in the other. List your fears and doubts in one column and verifiable facts in another and compare them. The action of writing things down helps us unbottle the fears we are holding in. Writing also aids your ability to store each Fact in your memory and summon your list when Fear makes its move.
- Take your own advice. Research has shown that we dispense advice more easily than we heed it because it is easier to see someone else’s bigger picture, while we tend to get myopic about our own. If a friend or colleague was dealing with anxiety, what would you say to them? Most likely, you would tell them some of the things mentioned above or other strategies you have used to deal with stress.