One thing most of us have in common is that we all worry. Our work performance. Kids. Getting safely from point A to B. Finances. The economy. Being safe in our own our homes, in our communities, at shopping malls. The worries can become overwhelming and paralyzing.
I remember when my twins were two and a half and one of them had a terrible fall in a parking lot. It came on the heels of a girlfriend dying of lung cancer. After a few weeks, I was paralyzed with fear and worry. If my husband was late picking up the girls from daycare, I was in a panic. When the wind blew too much, I was convinced the trees would fall on our house. How would I get them out safely? I ended up seeing a great counselor who helped me work through my worries, and in a short time, I felt human again and able to participate in the world around me.
We all deal with stress and worry in different ways. When it is about work, the anxiety can affect our performance, everyone around us and our world. Before that next spiral hits, there are a few tips that should help.
Name it and share it. We all have those confidants out there. Name it and share it with one of those who can talk you off the ledge. Talking it through will bring more clarify around the concerns, and perhaps a well-needed reality check. A trusted colleague can often help process what we’re seeing and provide a different perspective that we may be missing, often because we are too close to the situation.
Reassign it. The worry you’re facing is a worry. It isn’t you. You don’t own it. Don’t let it become you. Much like you are not your job, you are also not your worries and fears. Envision it in a box and see yourself closing the box….or holding the rope in a game of tug of war and letting it go. Recenter your control.
Refocus. Is there something else that you can focus on instead? From a work perspective, toss your energy into another project that helps distract your concerns long enough to be productive elsewhere.
Reflect. Once the scenario causing the worry has passed, reflect on what took place. Did your mind get away from you in a way that ended up putting an excessive amount of energy into the situation that was unproductive? Here’s what I’ve learned after years and years (and years) of reflection: what I worry about never really pans out to be as bad as I expected.
Perfect scenario: I perseverate over an angry parent meeting at work the next day. I don’t get a good night of sleep. I go over the conversation in my head over and over and over. And after it happens, it is never as bad as I had imagined. What I’ve learned from this reflection is that its okay to worry and plan for it, but wallowing in what I can’t control expends extra energy that I simply can’t lose.
Reflection allows me to gain perspective in the aftermath.
I’ve also learned that there is only so much I can control in life. When I was expecting the twins, I had a high risk OB/GYN who told me, “As a principal you’re used to being in control. Once these girls are born, you’ll never have control again.”
She was partially right. My ‘reflection’ in the twinning experience was that I have control over what I want to think about and how much control I need to have. I’ve learned to slow down, compartmentalize anxious thoughts, and connect with those who help to ground me.
Your turn! Now, make it a great short week.
Want to read up on this topic? Here is a great article from Psychology Today. It espouses that facing fear is the biggest step to addressing your worries.
Need to view a little inspiration around controlling fears and worry? Look no further that this short video. Five minute video that says you can overcome fears in 30 seconds. I tried it. I was sold!