11 steps to reducing anxiety in your business
In the early days of starting my own business, anxiety followed me everywhere. I actually assumed this was my normal state – just who I was.
Then I read Sarah Wilson’s First We Make The Beast Beautiful and finally I had a name to call that thing that always followed me around.
Then I burnt myself out, my whole life and business dismantled and my body packed it in so I shipped myself off to a forest for 2 months and reassessed what the heck I was doing.
I’ve been back for almost 12 months, gradually rebuilding my life, health and biz.
Anxiety now for me is not a constant, every day thing. It’s more of an indicator when something is off-balance.
And for that, I’m grateful.
Here’s what I’ve done to help reduce anxiety in my biz:
#1 Clean up your diet
Coffee and sugar are big contributors to anxiety. Try cutting them out for a week and notice how different you feel by the end of the day. And hey, you don’t need to miss out – I still treat myself to a decaf soy latte and I probably consume too much dark chocolate and homemade bliss balls… yummy, anxiety-free treats.
#2 Blue light blocking glasses (wearing ‘em right now!)
Okay, maybe these have a placebo effect, but I purchased myself a pair of these a couple of weeks ago and all I can say is WOW. When I wear these, I can actually work longer (probably not a great thing) and definitely don’t feel anywhere near as wiped by the end of the day. I also find I don’t grind my jaw when I’m wearing these…
#3 Work hours that work for you
We get so locked into having to work the standard 9-5.
I’m loving playing with starting at midday and working into the evening… (because my man works those hours) or taking a two hour lunch break with a long walk in the sun. Some days I work a lot of hours and some days I only work a couple.
I love spending some time in the morning prepping something in the slow cooker to eat that night. I rarely start work before 9.30am and try not to schedule appointments in the morning because I’ve discovered I need spaciousness and slow mornings. If I’m rushing or have to be somewhere by a certain time… hello anxiety.
What are the work hours that work for you?
#4 Move your body
I don’t think I need to say much more than that. Make it a priority to do that every day.
#5 Be realistic about what you can achieve
There’s that saying: we overestimate how much we can get done in a day and underestimate how much we can get done in a year… it’s so true.
Often anxiety creeps in when we’re feeling overloaded. If you’re finding that you’re not getting through your daily to-do list and it’s leaving you twitching, then it’s time to do an audit of where your time is going and maybe be more realistic about what is actually achievable each day.
You might also like to do a 90-day plan to get clear on your priorities.
#6 Turn off notifications
This is the SINGLE BEST THING I HAVE DONE IN MY BUSINESS. I’m not just talking about social media notifications – all notifications – even text messages and whatsapp messages. Most people don’t realise you can do this in the settings on your phone.
I’m no longer bombarded, constantly distracted and carrying that niggly feeling in the back of my mind every time I hear the phone go off. It’s such a small thing but makes a HUGE difference.
#7 Set up an auto-responder on your email
I’ve setup an auto-responder on my email which states the days and times I answer emails (unless urgent) and let’s people know when they can expect a response from me. Currently I’m answering emails this just once a week – on Thursday afternoons. I block out 1-2 hours to go through my emails. Since doing this, my inbox has been extra clean and no more inbox anxiety!
#8 Let people know your office hours.
Just because you have an online business, doesn’t mean you have to be available ALL the time. In fact, that’s just crazy when you think about it!
I originally got this idea from Meg Summerfield. She defines her office hours clearly on her website as well as stating that she takes phone calls by appointment only (when I saw this I audibly exhaled – she gave me the permission to do this too!) Check out her post here on ways to take time off as a freelancer. I particularly love that she writes her emails and then schedules them to go out only during set office hours.
#9 Embrace Business Minimalism
Do less but be more potent. Quality over quantity. Sustainability over Stupidity (ha!). This is what I’ve been saying to myself as I grow my new website design business.
I talk more about that over here.
#10 Stop pushing and forcing
For those of us that are ‘doers’ (you’ll know if you are!), anxiety is pretty common. We often feel like we’re not moving fast enough and there’s so much we want to get done.
But when you’re pushing, you’re not moving at the pace and with the healthy flow of your business. What happens when you’re not in flow? Your timing is off. Things are harder and nothing seems to work.
If you keep to the pace of your business and tap into the healthy flow, the perfect opportunities come your way, that perfect person mentions that perfect thing at that perfect time… you know how it goes.
But if you’re pushing and forcing, nothing ever lines up.
Take your foot of the pedal and RELAX back into the flow.
#11 Attune to your cycles and the cycles of your business
Some weeks you’re going to be creatively inspired, some weeks you’ll want to hide away (pretty common when we’re bleeding), some weeks will be about wanting to get shit done and ticked off the list (I’ve just come off one of those weeks). Sometimes the tide is in and sometimes it’s out.
If you tune to these cycles, you’ll be way more effective and carry way less guilt.
Bonus tip: Sleep
Some evenings, when my mind and heart are racing, I’m worried and can’t seem to switch off, I put myself to bed, listen to a meditation and speak to myself in soft tones, like I would a child. “Go to sleep” I say to myself “And if you’re still worried about this tomorrow, we’ll address it then”. Because, almost always, without a doubt, things always look better in the morning.
How are your anxiety levels right now?