“Anxiety does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, but only empties today of its strength.”
– Charles Spurgeon
Running your own business has unique challenges. We generally need to become competent in a whole range of areas for which we may not have received any training. We need to read and understand a spreadsheet, be competent with social media, know how to construct a business plan, have competency with design, layout, editing and negotiating as well as be passionate about whatever the idea was that stimulated you to go into business for yourself.
All of these competencies are often juggled in isolation with little business or emotional support or understanding from our friends and family.
As women in business we need to take responsibility for our own health, wellbeing and the creation of our own emotional stamina which allows us to not only survive being in business but to flourish.
Here are my top ten tips to avoid anxiety and build your emotional resilience:
Other people’s opinion of you is none of your business!
If you are to succeed with bringing a passion of yours into the practicalities of business then you will need to be true to yourself and put your energy and effort into believing in what it is that you want to create.
If you’re always comparing yourself to other peoples’ success or if you let everyone else’s opinion dictate how you feel about yourself, you will be buffeted by life and by others view of you. No one makes us feel anything!
If you’re feeling something, they’re your feelings; you didn’t get them from someone else. Stop comparing yourself to other people. You have no idea what their journey has been or how long they’ve been at it. Focus on doing a spectacular job of you. You are without comparison!
Make worry wait!
The mind is forever projecting into the future all of its worries, concerns, fears, limitations and anxieties.
A good day’s worry is far more exhausting than a good day with an axe! After a good day with an axe we fall into bed and sleep soundly whereas after a good day’s worry, we fall into bed and twitch all night!
Stay present by connecting with the senses of your body. Your body is always in the present. It’s never in the future and it’s never in the past. Connect with the present moment by coming to your senses.
Moment by moment, practice being aware of your posture, weight, pressure of the chair supporting your body, touch and texture of your clothing against your skin, any taste in your mouth, what falls within your sight, the sounds that you can hear, the breath as it flows in and out of your body.
If you do this practice constantly you will find that the mind comes to rest and you have access to your intuition, your insight, humour, spontaneity, creativity, compassion and more. You sacrifice these qualities when your mind is full of turmoil about the future or the past. Stay present and make worry wait!
You will find a free practice for coming to your senses here.
Cultivate an attitude of gratitude.
It can be easy to focus on what’s not working, what could be better, what we haven’t done, what we don’t have, what could happen, what we need to succeedâ€¦the list could be endless! Focus on what is working, what achievements you have made and cultivate a sense of gratitude for everything including the challenges.
Expressing your gratitude shifts your focus from other people’s experience to your own. Be grateful for your health, for life, for meaningful work and for the support and love of the people you have in your life.
Practice gratitude for the challenges as well, knowing that it is through embracing them that we learn and grow in our business experience. Reflect upon the blessings in your life and write them down.
Keep a gratitude book on your desk and write down anything for which to be grateful until gratitude is your natural state. Let the last thought before sleep come from a thankful heart.
You are not your body! You have a body!
No vision is realised without the energy to bring it to life. Sustainable energy is built on good health and a feeling of wellbeing and fulfilment in your life. Your health is your wealth!
Regular exercise, nutritious food, sound and restful sleep plus a passion to make your contribution forms the foundation for a sustainable business. It is our responsibility to ensure that we are replenishing ourselves physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.
It takes discipline, especially if we are a sole trader, to make sure that we have a regular routine that addresses all aspects of our personal and professional life.
We’ve all taken our electronic devices to bed where we have continued to work on emails or other projects. That’s ok, but conducting our entire business from bed or in our pyjamas isn’t going to bring us the vitality, drive, focus and energy needed to succeed.
Giving and receiving are the same.
Cultivate a collegial attitude in your work where you freely support, collaborate or cooperate with so-called competitors.
We’ll all get to where we want to go quicker if we support, encourage and help one another than if we only want to protect ourselves from competition. If you want to lift yourself up, lift up someone else.
You’ll find that sharing your insights, time, energy or even just a listening ear with a colleague leave you with a wonderful sense of gratitude that you were able to contribute in a positive way to someone else’s life. And what you put out to the universe will undoubtedly return to you.
Environment is everything!
Make sure you put yourself in good company as our environment is far more powerful than our willpower.
Good company refers not only to the relationships in your life but to the music you listen to, the movies/TV you watch, the environments you put yourself into, the books you read and your daily rituals. It is better to have the company of a good book than to diminish yourself by keeping poor company.
Spend time with people you aspire to emulate. Surround yourself with positive people. Read about inspirational/can do people. Find people who believe in you, will challenge you and inspire you to do your best.
Make sure your environment is clean and orderly and surround yourself with the things that uplift your spirit.
Learn to say no.
We all have limits on our time, our energy and our interests. There are 168 hours in a week and every one of them belongs to you. If you don’t feel like you own every one of those hours chances are that you may be resenting some that you think other people have claim on.
Many people find it difficult to say no. This may be because we don’ want to disappoint people or we don’t know how to look after our own needs.
If saying no is difficult for you then practice in the mirror at home first. Look yourself in the eye and say, I’d love to say yes, but I have to say no or, thank you so much for asking me but I’m fully committed at present or, thank you for asking me. I’ll need to check my diary and get back to you.
Once you feel comfortable doing that, practice on your pet or pot plant until you have the confidence to look someone in the eye and respectfully say, â€œnoâ€ to whatever is being asked of you. It just takes practice!
The one constant in our life is the breath. It is our most profound connection to life. Be present to the breath.
Before any activity, conversation, meeting, beginning a project, before all activities begin, stop, breathe and bring yourself wholeheartedly into the present moment by connecting with the senses of your body and the breath.
Notice the sensations of the inward and outward breath; notice the difference in temperature between the inward and the outward breath as the air is warmed by your body; be aware of the sensations of the breath as it flows over your top lip, into your nostrils and expands your chest/tummy. And aware of the outward breath as your ribcage contracts, your belly flattens noticing the sensations of air leaving your body.
Focusing on the breath brings the mind to rest.
You are not your brain! You have a brain.
Sometimes our brain creates a whole lot of unnecessary electrical activity that enlivens the story we tell ourselves our-selves about all the things we should be anxious about.
Itâ’s quite possible to calm down this electrical storm of activity in the brain through the regular practice of meditation or relaxation techniques. The brain makes a marvelous servant and a really appalling master!
We don’t want our brain running the show. We need to anchor our sense of self in that which is beyond change. Our bodies will change. Our minds change all the time. Our feelings change all the time.
To find the peace that passes all understanding is to anchor our sense of self in our awareness, our consciousness, soul, spirit, Life, Being or whatever it is you like to call it.
You are not your feelings! You have feelings.
Avoid labelling yourself as a feeling.
Rather than say, I am sad/anxious/fearful/upset/angry, change it to, I feel sad/anxious/fearful/upset/angry. The space between you and the feeling becomes a powerful point of choice whereas labelling yourself as the feeling keeps you trapped in it.
So the inner awareness is: This is how it feels to be Petrea feeling anxious. It’s ok to feel anxious and this is how feeling anxious feels for me. Then you notice the sensations in your body, how the feeling is affecting your breath, what is happening in your mind, your heart, your belly.
It’s as if you put the feeling under the microscope and see its effect without becoming overwhelmed by the feeling. You may need to put a time frame around how long you will choose to experience the feeling.
This takes practice and, in time, you will find an inner equilibrium that cannot be buffeted by outside events, people or circumstances. Your feelings change all the time so don’t attach your sense of self to your feelings.
Reclaim Your Lunch Hour
Petrea is hosting a series of webinars to help you “Reclaim Your Lunch Hour” with mindfulness and meditation techniques to help you cope with stress. Click here to learn more.
About our guest blogger:
Petrea King is the Founder and CEO of the Quest for Life Centre in Bundanoon which hosts retreats for people living with cancer, grief, loss, depression, anxiety and trauma.
Since her unexpected recovery from leukaemia more than 30 years ago Petrea King has helped tens of thousands of people find peace in the midst of major life challenges and make meaning of their experience. For the past thirteen years she has been a regular guest on ABC radio with Richard Glover and Tony Delroy talking about the challenging issues in life. Petrea is a naturopath, herbalist, yoga and meditation teacher and is the author of eight best-selling books (including three for children), and more than a dozen meditation CDs.