Perform better professionally by quelling anxiety -- and even using it to your advantage – with the help of these seven tips.
1. Embrace Fear – To A Point: Sometimes, fear of failure can be your best motivator. So rather than run from anxiety, reinterpret it as excitement. Translate fear into the energy needed to power maximum effort toward accomplishing your goals. “Fear can help you move fast and think sharply,” says Bruce D. Sanders, a consumer psychologist and business author. The trick, of course, is to keep fear manageable. Past a certain point, fear dilutes your quality of thinking and ability to perform.
2. Picture Success With Positive Visualization: Often, anxiety arises from negative thinking – worry that a sales call will go awry or that you’ll fail to meet quota. Counteract worry-filled thoughts by replacing them with vivid visualizations of positive outcomes. “Imagine asking your clients questions about their needs, and listening closely to their responses,” says Joy Rains, a Maryland-based meditation speaker and author. “Imagine being totally ‘present’ in your time with your client. Imagine a partnership forming between you and your client, as you take a consultative role. Imagine the handshake at the end of your time together and a promise for business to come.”
3. Focus On What You Can Control: Instead of worrying about things you can’t control – like whether a prospect will buy – focus on your own processes. Key in on performing all actions that optimize your chance of achieving your desired result. “Focusing on things you can control is empowering and will ultimately lead to better results,” says Peter Shalek, co-founder of Joyable, which offers a self-service app that helps people overcome social anxiety.
4. Steady Your Breath: When anxiety rears, turn attention to your breath. Focus to make it steady by inhaling on the count of five, then exhaling on five. Do this three times, thinking the mantra, “When I control my breath, I control my life,” says corporate wellness coach Guy Joseph Ale, president of Lifespan Seminar.
5. Try Pressure Point Exercises: Alleviating tension at important pressure points in your body facilitates relaxation. One exercise Ale suggests involves using your thumb, forefinger and middle finger to gently apply pressure in your lower forehead just above the eyebrows. While so doing, breathe into the place where your fingers touch the skin. Another exercise entails using the tip of your forefinger to lightly poke under your earlobe in the dip where it meets the jaw and the neck; breathe steadily and freely while doing this.
6. Debunk Your Fears: “Start by defining your fears with specificity, either in your mind or, better, by writing them down,” says Andy Thompson, life coach, international faith leader and cultural commentator. “Be sure you conceive what you believe to be the ‘worst case scenario’ and the probability of that coming to fruition. The worst case scenario rarely plays out, so you can rest easier on that front. Once all of your fears are itemized, for each one detail how you would move past it if it were to materialize. Determining the likelihood of each feared event and how each would be dealt with can give you an invigorating sense of reassurance.”
7. Accomplish Something Easy: When anxiety gets the better of you, change up activities and do something simple. Perhaps you’re stressing over ideas to present for a client’s campaign. Switch from that project to a less demanding task that can be accomplished with relative ease. “Research indicates that success in the (second) task dissipates fear and anxiety for when you return to the prior task,” says Sanders.