The Huge Cost of Anxiety
Too often, many of us let feelings of anxiety creep into our lives, and the results leave us debilitated. Anxiety is a soul- and energy-sucking pest that infests our lives if we do not eliminate it. We can actually choose to abolish it from our lives completely, but if we don’t, we need to be aware of how much a toll it can take on us.
For one client, work-related anxiety actually made her ill.
With so much to keep track of at work, she envisions the worst possible outcome for every scenario so as to be prepared for it if it happens. She suffers from performance anxiety — a gnawing fear that she won’t be able to handle her workload. She consistently enlists the aid of others. She trusts them more than she does herself and expects that she will mess up without their help. Due to stress, she’s not as attentive as she needs to be, and her foresight becomes limited. It’s a vicious cycle that turns worrying about making mistakes into actually making them.
When anxiety strikes, she’s there in body but not in spirit. She attends work meetings, but is preoccupied with other matters.
She is so consumed with anxiety that by the end of the workday that she needs to zone out when she gets home. She has dinner with her husband, but thoughts of work cloud her ability to have real conversations with him. She distances herself, collapses on the couch, and tries to watch TV in order to de-stress. But she can’t. She is worried at all times and it’s making her sick. She sweats, has pounding headaches, stomach aches, and experiences waves of nausea.
Another client, a brilliant PhD, is worrying himself into a mediocre life.
He avoids conflict at all costs. He fears conflict to the point where he agrees with everyone on all matters. He was brought up to be respectful of his elders and authority figures. He was reprimanded any time he had a conflicting point of view.
Now, he is a bobble-head, eternally nodding his head “yes.” He sacrifices his own opinions, his own values and his autonomy in order to have peace. As a result, he approaches everything half-heartedly, and with zero passion. When he does have a difference of opinion and feels conflict, he stuffs it down and stays quiet – until he erupts. He does not have the tools to handle conflict, and his anxiety skyrockets regularly.
Anxiety, like stress, is a silent killer. And it doesn’t just damage our quality of life: when we worry, we are not present. How many days, even years, are we spending not being present?
There are all types of anxiety. Social anxiety. Relationship anxiety. The anxiety of moving up in a company. And more. But what is anxiety, really, and why does it happen?
Anxiety is the anticipation of a negative outcome, and the anticipation that the negative outcome is beyond management. It is the act of playing out all the event scenarios in your mind, expecting them to all turn out badly, and feeling like every single possible outcome is nothing but disastrous.
Fortunately, we can challenge this state of mind by trying one of two strategies:
1. Start using your imagination to visualize really great outcomes instead of negative ones; or…
2. Imagine a negative outcome, and then imagine handling the negative outcome with skill and mastery. Think about what you would do to bounce back from the disaster, and how you can implement a strategy that would allow you to recover with relative ease.
Either of these options will help to dramatically decrease your anxiety over any given event.
Want to learn more about handling your fears and overcoming them? Click here to take our Frame of Mind Coaching assessment and get a grip on the anxieties that drive you.