How Managers Can Become Less Anxious

Managers need to learn how to calm their mind during anxious times
Managers need to learn how to calm their mind during anxious times
Image Credit: Christophe LEUNG

When we signed up for the job of being a manager, we may not have realized the other things that came along with this job. One such thing might be the anxiety that being a manager can cause in us. This, of course, bring up the question about just exactly what anxiety is. The dictionary tells us that anxiety is a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome. As managers, no matter what manager skills we have, this pretty much describes every day of our lives. What can we do to deal with the anxiety that our job creates?

Emotional Regulation

One of the challenges that we run into when we are dealing with anxiety in our lives is the simple fact that anxiety is not something that limits itself to work. We can start to feel anxious about just about anything. Things that can cause anxiety in our lives include fires in California, hurricanes, nuclear war, and confusion in Washington D.C. One of the biggest problem with these “life problems” is that as we try to find ways to deal with them, we fail to deal with the smaller problems that are also causing stress in our personal lives.

What we all need are new tactics and manager training that will allow us to deal with the anxiety that we find in our lives. What we really want to do is to find a way to make changes to our emotions. Psychologists call this kind of changing “emotional regulation”. More often than not, what we are trying to do is to find a way that we can turn down a negative emotion. There are several ways that we can go about reducing the amount of anxiety and worry that there is in our lives. The first thing that we can do is to switch our attention to something else. An example of this would be when we are waiting in a long line and we start to remember a pleasant vacation that we went on in the past.

Another way that we can deal with the anxiety that we are feeling would be to make a change to the way that we choose to conceptualize the situation that we find ourself in. A good example of this would be when you are driving and another driver becomes angry at you. Instead of taking it personally, you need to realize that they probably have a lot of other things that are going on in their lives and this is causing them to vent to you. What this allows us to do is to make a decision about what we want to focus on and how we want to react to it. The key to this coping mechanism is that we find ourselves in control and that can go a long way in making us feel better.

Anxiety Coping Mechanisms

When we are feeling anxious, we start to look for ways to deal with our anxiety. There are a number of different ways to go about doing this. Some of the most favorite ways to go about reducing anxiety are to engage in exercise, yoga, and meditation. Music can be a powerful tool in help us to deal with the anxiety that we are feeling. What many people do is to create a playlist of their favorite songs that will allow them to calm down and get a handle on their anxiety. Another approach is to convince yourself that there are certain problems that you won’t be able to solve during parts of the day such as between midnight and 6am. During this time you can switch your thoughts to something more pleasant such as a vacation that you enjoyed.

Every manager needs to come up with a way to deal with anxiety that will work best for them. One manager reports that when they are feeling anxious, they attempt to picture a tap of water and then they picture this tap being turned on and they let all of the anxiety that they are feeling run out. Another system that works well is to pick a specific location where you will do all of your worrying. If you are not in that location, then you will not allow yourself to be worried. Anxiety is something that can affect our entire body. This is why many techniques to deal with anxiety have to do with finding ways to relax our bodies. An example of this is one technique that requires us to start out by putting both hands on our chest and then relaxing our body from our feet upwards.

We can’t always control where we will start to feel anxious. This is why some of the most effect techniques for dealing with anxiety have to do with breathing exercises that can be done anywhere. A simple technique is to practice deep breathing and allow the air to enter into your body, fill your lungs and your abdomen and then finally let it out. If you can get your mind off of whatever is causing you to feel anxious, then you’ll be able to calm down. One technique for making this happen is to listen to audio books and allow yourself to become distracted. Writing yourself notes and then placing them where you’ll be able to see them is a good way to remind yourself that it is impossible to know the outcome of an event or what someone else is thinking. What you have to do is to focus on the only thing that you can control: you own actions.

What All Of This Means For You

In these busy times, all managers have to deal with anxiety. This is a feeling that we can’t control things and we start to dread how things may turn out. Feeling anxious can start to have an impact on both our performance at work and in how we manage our team using team building. Clearly we need to take the time to come up with a way to deal with our anxiety.

It is not just work and work related issues that can cause us to feel anxiety. The bigger world contains enough things that if we spend time thinking about them will cause us to become even more anxious and may cause us to overlook the smaller things that are also contributing to how we feel. What we need is emotional regulation which will allow us to take control over our emotions. In order to deal with anxiety you can change what you are focused on and you can conceptualize the situation that you find yourself in. What we need to learn to do

is to not get overwhelmed by events but rather to focus on the only thing that you can control: you own actions. No, there is no way that we are going to be able to get anxiety out of our lives all together. Instead, what we need to do is to find ways that once its there, we can deal with it. We need to find a way to “dial down” our anxiety so that it become manageable and does not impact our job performance. We can only control ourselves and if we can realize this, then we can get our anxiety under control.

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Management Skills™

Question For You: What anxiety management technique do you think would work best for you?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

So is there any downside to becoming a manager? One possibility is the simple fact that it takes time. By the time most of us become managers, we’re not as young as we used to be. What this means is that we find ourselves in a workplace filled with younger people trying to use our manager skills to manage teams made up of younger people. All of sudden it can be very easy for us to start to feel as though we might not be keeping up. How can a manager deal with this situation?