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  • Writer's pictureJonathan Bullock

How do successful leaders deal with anxiety?

Everyone suffers from anxiety to some extent, and I have known many leaders who have struggled with it. To be authentic I’ve struggled with it. Some day's I still do.

I've noticed that in myself and others if stress is unmanaged, it can significantly impact decision-making abilities and overall performance.

Many leaders like to prove their power, skills and accomplishments in the workplace. Being seen as strong and not weak is seen as a good thing. Wouldn't it be amazing if leaders - including myself - where more open and shared that they suffer from anxiety and also how they cope with it?

Here are a few tactics I offer leaders to help reduce their anxiety:

Recognise the warning signs

Notice your physiological responses when you're feeling anxious. These contribute to your internal warning system, alerting you to a potential threat. It might be as small as a flutter in your belly, stiff shoulders or difficulty concentrating. I've found that, by recognising physical indicators, you can spot anxiety before it overwhelms you.

Notice your anxiety without rejecting it

Anxiety never appears out of nowhere. So welcome it in an attempt to figure out why it's emerging right now. Avoiding and running away from your emotions never helps. Instead, identify your worry so that you can start addressing and managing it.

Acknowledge your anxiety without being emotionally attached to it

It's common for people to suppress their anxiety to avoid dealing with their fears. However, the most effective way to alleviate anxiety is to recognise it without punishing yourself. Identify anything that makes you feel anxious. I've also discovered that the more you try to manage your anxiety, the stronger it grows, so fight the tug of war by learning to disengage and accept your discomfort. Congratulations! You've made significant progress towards successfully dealing with your anxiety.

Keep an eye out for patterns and categorise your emotions

Anxiety, for the most part, follows a pattern. Stress may create a feeling of fear, which then causes anxiety. It might also be that something goes wrong, and your perfectionist tendencies cause you to become upset, which leads to anxiety. Look for your patterns so that you can classify and understand the events and feelings that contribute to your anxiety.

I am not an expert at any of this and just sharing here what has helped me personally. If you are struggling do reach out to somebody and get professional help. You are *not* alone. EVERYONE goes through it. Be strong.

TAKEAWAY: Anxiety management gives rise to more impactful leadership, both for you and those you oversee. So, try out these tips and gather all the resources you need to deal with your anxiety before it overwhelms you.


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