Do you feel anxious at work sometimes? We all do! A big presentation, an interview for a promotion, a meeting with a new customer. All of these can give us anxiety.
It goes without saying, though I will say it anyway, if you feel you might be experiencing anxiety disorder or if your anxiety gets in the way of your day-to-day activities, please consult a medical professional or a mental-health professional.
But most of us have good mental health and only experience occasional anxiety. What is the best way to deal with that?
Firstly, there is not ONE best way, you should have a variety of tools in your toolbox for dealing with occasional anxiety. All of those tools will include mindfulness so that you know what is going on. Many of us, when we are experiencing anxiety, undergo what Daniel Goleman calls an “amygdala hijack” – when our emotional brain takes over, all of the sudden, before our rational brain has a chance to react and stay in control. But there is often some physical sensation that you get first before the amygdala takes over. If you learn to recognize that sensation, you can get ahead of the anxiety by breaking the cycle.
How should you break the cycle? One way is to pre-occupy your mind with something unrelated, perhaps a mini crossword puzzle or a sudoku. You don’t have to complete it, just break the cycle. I think a better way would be to do a quick self-compassion meditation like the one developed by Dr. Kristin Neff. You can find her 5-minute self-compassion break online.
There are many strategies for dealing with anxiety, many more than I can do justice to in a short newsletter. But realizing that you are susceptible to anxiety and knowing how to break that downward spiral is the first step. Once you have accomplished that first step you are in a much better situation to take care of yourself and break out of your funk. Then you can get back on track and start flourishing again. And that might be the best way to stop anxiety!