Anxiety was taking a toll on my health, both mental and physical. The worse nights were those when I was suffocated and found it hard to breathe. Desperate calls to friends in the midnight didn’t help. I realised something was not right in my life. And I understood this anxiety was an external manifestation of my internal woes that resulted into a disequilibrium in my life. I started delving within to face boldly these internal woes that were causing disequilibrium, and my anxiety levels reduced considerably.
Anxiety is a feeling of getting pushed to a wall attached to the belief that you have nowhere to go from here.
When we are anxious and overwhelmed, we are completely different people as compared to when we are calm and stable. Because when we are calm, the prefrontal cortex takes the lead so we are capable to make conscious and informed decisions. But, when we get fearful, the amygdala and the lower regions of our brain dominate and we cannot think properly. We get disturbed and cannot make right choices or decisions!
But, remember anxiety is a natural human response and part of our lives, just like sadness and happiness. So, we cannot dismiss it completely. In fact, we need to make it a healthy part of life, which can be managed. We have to learn to cope with it and stop it from becoming unhealthy.
Counselor, Roger S. Gil explains that the real challenge of anxiety is when the body and brain get ‘wired’, they are on the lookout for potential threats, which may be real or all imagined, but coming from any direction.
You start developing a thought pattern where every event in your life is perceived as a threat and this becomes a never-ending cycle. It doesn’t seem to go and you live with it on daily basis. A lot of people don’t recognise it as an issue as it’s so much a part of their lives.
How ANXIETY affects us
It is simply the sense of fear and apprehension that makes you alert with heightened sense of awareness so that you are charged up and prepared to face potential threats. Sounds a good thing to happen to you? Yes, it is until you feel it excessively and constantly.
In such a case, your body will not turn off this fight or flight mode. Though we don’t need to feel anxious we continue to keep feeling so, without a reason. Constantly anxious people are always alert and on the edge, with no rest to their body and mind. Anxiety felt persistently is a problem.
It’s difficult to cope with anxiety as you never know what caused it. It can trigger without a reason. It’s an internal response.
Though, if you delve within yourself, it’s possible to decipher its origin.
Anxiety leads to negative thinking, which further makes us more anxious. Anxiety feeds on negative thoughts. To tackle it, you need to be flexible and think that you can change things. A rigid mind thinks that a particular scenario cannot be changed. This kind of thinking isn’t growth oriented.
I am sure the next thing that comes to your mind is, how does all this affect your productivity?
An assistant professor at Harvard Business School named Alison Wood Brooks conducted a study, which delved into the thought about how we react to the idea of stress. Her finding was interesting; people who perceived their anxiety as excitement performed much better than those who made useless attempts to hide it away with calmness.
In our professional life and may be personal life too, we spend a lot of energy defending our perceived threats to our worthiness, which makes us anxious and less productive. The most powerful energizer of productivity is the feeling of being secure and having trust in ourselves and the world around us. So, ‘drive away the fear’ should be the agenda for employers and employees too. Organizations should also encourage this feeling of being trusted amongst the employees and culture that minimises fear.
Anxiety drains our working memory capacity, affects our decision-making ability, decreases our confidence thus, harming our overall performance.
When we know this is an everyday affair, matters start getting worse.
Whenever you are stressed you react with anxiety, fear and self-doubt, you will feel like that in all similar situations. Psychologist found a solution to this called as ‘cognitive reappraisal’. Here you don’t let negative self-doubt to exceed and run wild. You identify when you are going down on a negative path and then stop yourself.
How it happens practically
Write your thoughts down, this will help you identify what triggered it. For example, “Your boss sent you an SMS asking you to call her up. The next thing you do is start worrying that she hates me and my work so, she called to yell at me. Write down these thoughts and ask yourself, “Is my work bad?” “Will she yell at me at all?”
After you answer these questions, you will know your fears are redundant and baseless. Look at how self-doubt turned into self-belief.
This is how your initial assumptions and thoughts will have no grounds to support. Further, write about your success. When did you get your last promotion? Write down things that challenge your self-doubt and note down your strengths. Think, and think more!
Or go to the other extreme, and think that your work is bad. Tell yourself it’s worst. “There has never been a worse software developer than me.” Consider yourself lucky that people don’t reject you just to make a better world. This will make you laugh & think how absurd your thoughts are.
Often anxiety builds when you perceive a threat which doesn’t exist. Such fears push you down and stop you from taking up challenging tasks. Just fret this freight and move ahead.
Only when fears dispel, growth propels!
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