Over the past few months I have been inundated with messages, asking how I manage my anxiety and continue to be productive. Surprisingly, these people have ranged from CEO’s to school children, both male and female, which screams to me that it is a national issue which needs addressing.
Here, I’ve written down some of the main methods I use to keep me on track. I hope they can help you too!
Being cooped up inside is probably one of the worst things for me. Get outside, take a second to appreciate how beautiful and incredible the world actually is. We don’t stop enough to appreciate the small things; the fact that we are even alive is pretty magical.
Possibly THE most important thing when dealing with anxiety or stress. You know that build-up of tension you get in your chest? Get your heart rate up and I guarantee this will help relieve the tightness which then affects your brain to work less efficiently. I find running is the best thing for me but you’ll have to figure out what’s right for you to keep you motivated. I know it’s hard to get up in the morning but if you can do this first thing, it will set you up for the day to feel fresher minded.
Again, a great way to start the day. I use the Calm App but other apps such as Headspace are meant to work just as well. You may think that you don’t have enough time to do this when you first wake up but if you do you’ll be more productive and get out the door and to school/work more efficiently therefore saving time – so don’t hesitate and get started now!
You know that voice in your head when you do something wrong? When you drop something and call yourself ‘an idiot’. Well, these will help you replace that inner negative voice with a positive one instead.
Many people are unaware of this ‘voice’ (myself included, until recently). However this has a lot to do with our self-esteem. We often address ourselves in a completely different manner to how we would talk to others. We would almost never call someone else stupid, yet wouldn’t think twice about internally referring to ourselves this way.
Every time before I went into a boardroom I would repeat positive affirmations to myself to help me feel stronger and more confident – weird, I know – but trust me, they work!
You can find positive affirmations on Youtube to listen to.
Surround yourself with positive people
So many people always see the negatives in a situation and this is actually what I struggled with the most whilst on The Apprentice. Being around negative people will only dull your own sparkle and unless you are a naturally positive person, this will begin to affect your own positivity.
You know yourself, when someone takes a disliking to something at work and won’t stop moaning about it, you can often find yourself moaning about it too – even if at first you didn’t find it an issue. It’s difficult to distance yourself if they’re your friends as you don’t want to seem dismissive but try to take what other people have to say lightly and not begin to take their opinions as your own. Failing that, cut them out. As Albert Einstein says: “Stay away from negative people, they have a problem for every solution”.
Turn a negative into a positive
This is a weird one. And once you realise you can do this, you will completely change your world. People deem things in life as ‘negative’ or ‘positive’ but what if I told you there’s no such thing – just interpretations. For example, the other day I went for a run and it started absolutely chucking it down with rain. I had so many messages from people along the lines of ‘oh that’s a shame’ or ‘how rubbish’ and don’t get me wrong, ‘old me’ probably would’ve seen it like that. However, I turned a negative into a positive. Due to the rain, I had to call in at a supermarket. There, I met a lovely lady who I had a nice chat with, sat down and had a coffee. I then went home and had a lovely hot shower, which I appreciated so much more due to the rain. Had it have not rained, I wouldn’t have had either of these experiences. SO it just goes to show, ‘bad’ things can be turned into ‘good things’.
Write goals and set deadlines to work towards (but don’t beat yourself up if you don’t stick to them)
The problem with ambitious and anxious people is that you will always have a list as long as your arm to stick to. Write these down and set realistic deadlines to stick to. Then, when you’ve completed them, tick them off. Writing them down will allow you to see how you can break things down and manage them. This will stop the several different things you’ve got to do from running around your head over and over again.
The most successful people read. It’s an insight into what other people before you, have gone through in the past and provide you with knowledge without the experience. It’s the next best thing to learning through experiences. As you know, my favourite books are ‘Feel The Fear and Do It Anyway’ and ‘The Secret’. I’m currently getting started on Fearne Cotton’s ‘Calm’ and ‘The Luck Book’. I’ll be reporting back!
Listen to audiobooks whilst commuting
Many anxious people worry about their lack of time. A way to utilise time to the best of your ability is to fill gaps with productive activities. Rather than seeing your commute as a negative time waster, view it as a great time to be able to learn along the way. Recent audiobooks I have listened to are ‘The Alchemist’ by Paul Coelho and ‘The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari’ by Robert Sharma. They both teach you to chase after your dreams. A must ‘read/listen’.
Cut down on alcohol
I know it’s fun, I like to have a drink, but personally, the anxiety the day after is almost just too much to bare and isn’t worth it. Of course, I still drink but I choose now to do it when I think it’s worthwhile. Drinking will only take away from productivity unfortunately, so if you can, limit it to a few times per month, rather than a weekly activity.
Take what you read online with a pinch of salt – a lot of what you see is dramatised or exaggerated
Boy have I learnt this the hard way. I am amazed how much false information can be put out there for the public to see, and what I can tell you is a lot of it is dramatised, fabricated or put with a spin that will, unfortunately, sell papers or create ‘click bait’. At the end of the day, certain things sell in the media, so just be aware that what you read isn’t always the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth as many people have a hidden agenda.
Stay off social media one day per week
Social media ain’t real. Take some time to get away from it and have a reality check. Social media is literally there to look at someone else’s life through rose tinted glasses and can leave us always yearning for more. Give yourself a day off per week for that reality check.
Give yourself ‘worry times’
Rather than spending your whole day worrying, set yourself an hour per day (it doesn’t even have to be that long!) where you allow yourself to have a bit of a worry. In that hour, write down what you need to do in order to combat it, then after the hour, crack on with it. It saves you so much time throughout the day.
Be careful with coffee
I’m being a total hypocrite with this one, as I am a hardcore addict to the stuff. But, it is definitely a trigger for anxiety as it raises your heart rate. If you can, cut down or try to switch to decaff. (I’ll let you know if I ever manage to succeed with this one!)
Cut down on sugary foods
For me, eating rubbish affects my mood and productivity levels massively. I try to stick to a FODMAP friendly diet throughout the week so my mind is focussed and then let myself cheat a bit at the weekend. It’s not the funnest of diets in the week but my productivity levels are my priority at that point. Again, work out what’s best for you but fresh is always best!
It’s ok to say no to plans
I LOVE being surrounded by people. And in the past I have definitely been ‘too’ sociable. To the point where I haven’t put my own well-being first because I’ve been trying to keep great friendships alive. Unfortunately, I have realised that if you are to keep focused on your own goals, some of these relationships will have to take a back seat, as there simply aren’t enough hours in the day. If your friends are your true friends, they’ll understand that you are trying to work towards your dreams and are prioritising yourself. Never feel guilty for looking after yourself.