Entrepreneurial Anxiety – Why Business Owners Struggle With Anxiety And How To Resolve It
Business owners and water balloons aren’t as dissimilar as you might think…
Remember when you were a child playing with water balloons? You’d fill them up but always thought they could be bigger and better. Surely they could handle more? After all, it’s what they were designed to do.
You’d add a little more water, a little more, just a little more… you’d feel a knot forming in your stomach, start to distance yourself, the anticipated fun ebbing away, anxiety creeping in…POP!!!
As a business owner, you may often feel the need to take on more than you should.
After all, your business is your brainchild. Yours to nurture to maturity. Ensuring that all its needs are met to achieve your goals. You are ultimately in charge of every decision to lead you to your North Star.
And you were born to do it. Surely you can handle the pressure?
But the demands of a high-achievement life build-up and without the right processes and approach, you eventually find yourself overwhelmed, stressed out – and even anxious.
Stress And Anxiety Go Hand In Hand
Hang on, this is a post about anxiety – why are we talking about stress?
When you are faced with a stressful situation it triggers your fight or flight reflex – a natural stress response to make you more alert, focused, and ready to deal with the task in front of you.
Your heart beats faster and your body releases a rush of adrenalin.
Anxiety is your body’s response to stress so that the next time you encounter the thing that made you stressed you’ll feel alert and aware of what’s going to happen next.
If you’ve taken on too much, and are repeatedly feeling stressed because things are being left unstarted, unfinished or rushed, this repetitive stress can cause you to become anxious.
You’ll start to worry about how everything will get done, doubt your abilities, and maybe even fear for the future of your business.
This is entrepreneurial anxiety.
Anxiety Affects Everything And Everyone
Anxiety can be sneaky and insidious. Not only affecting your work life through lack of focus and poor performance but also your home life too. Behaviours that you might think of as sometimes normal can be a result of anxiety – fatigue, mood swings, lack of focus… Sleepless nights, irritability, and restlessness are common symptoms too.
If any of that sounds familiar it’s OK to hold your hand up, admit that you’re anxious, and ask for support. Everyone has a finite amount of energy, brainpower, and hours in the day to get stuff done.
Even the most successful entrepreneurs and business owners can suffer from anxiety.
In January 2021, Tom Bloomfield stepped down from his position as CEO of Monzo Bank after recognising and admitting to his own mental health issues. He stated at the time that he was “doing too much, and not enjoying it”.
I’m not suggesting that you have to quit your job in order to feel better! There are other ways you can resolve your anxiety…
Less Stress Less Anxiety
Stress causes anxiety. That’s a physiological fact.
Therefore, it’s pretty self-explanatory that if you reduce your stress, you reduce your anxiety.
- If your to-do list is causing you stress, delegate some of the tasks that can be done by other people.
- If you’re stressed about a looming deadline, prioritise the work that needs to be completed for that.
- If Brian from accounts stresses you out by constantly bombarding you with emails asking for help, arrange some additional training for him.
Only you can reduce your own personal stress.
Crystal Clear Clarity For A Calm Mind
I talk a lot about the importance of having crystal clear clarity in order to identify and achieve your goals. It’s one of the first things I help my clients with.
You wouldn’t set off on a journey without knowing where you were going or how you were going to get there. So why would you set about a task without knowing what the end result should be and how you’re going to achieve it? In both cases you’ll end up confused, stressed, and… you’ve guessed it… anxious.
By taking the time to know exactly what your end goal is, you’ll be able to make a clear plan of the steps you need to take.
Relieve Your Anxiety In The Moment
Having a few techniques to reduce your anxiety in the moment will help you to regain control of your mind. It can be as simple as ABC:
- Admit you’re anxious – by labelling your anxiety you’re owning up to it, to yourself or others. It can be a big sigh of relief to actually get it off your chest and it will relieve some of the pressure you might have been putting on yourself to ‘just get on with it’.
- Breathe slowly and fully – when you’re anxious you will often take quick, shallow breaths which stimulates your fight/flight stress response and increases anxiety. Focus on slowing down your breathing and taking long, deep and calming breaths. I like to use box breathing for in the moment interrupts.
- Change your focus – Try the 3-3-3 technique. Look around and name 3 things you see, then name 3 things you hear and finally move 3 different parts of your body. This disrupts your anxious racing mind, bringing you back to the present moment.
Remove Your Blocks
If you know what it is you want to achieve but are having trouble getting there, you are probably experiencing mental blocks. They occur when you get trapped in your own thought processes. And your perceived inability to overcome them causes anxiety.
To get over a mental block, it can help to break a project down into smaller, more achievable tasks. A different perspective could also provide the answer, so ask for help to get some fresh ideas.
Stand up and leave your desk.
Hydrate, eat or get some fresh air.
All can help to reset and clear your mind.
This is where having a coach you can call on is invaluable. A good coach will be able to help you to eliminate your blocks, break through your barriers and eliminate the procrastination and productivity problems that anxiety can cause.
Resolving Anxiety Helps You To Achieve More
Having anxiety can be frustrating and interfere with your productivity.
But the answer is pretty simple – recognise your anxiety for what it is and make small changes that reduce your stressors. Implement activities into your week that help to calm you and keep you focused and get crystal clear clarity on where you want to go.
Take a proactive approach to stress management.
The simplest and fastest way to reduce anxiety is to reduce stress. Read my blog on How To Reduce Stress for some useful tips.
Interesting topic – particularly having crystal clear clarity on where I want to go.