Any leader who is worth their salt has reason to worry over difficult topics. Sometimes that worry generates anxiety.
If this is you, you’re not alone. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, in 2018 about 18% of adults in the United States were diagnosed with an anxiety disorder.
COVID-19 has likely increased that number.
That’s more than 40 million Americans. Those statistics don’t include those of us who haven’t been formally diagnosed and experience low-level anxiety.
Statistically, one in five people reading this are anxious. Even if you’re not anxious right now, tomorrow may bring different circumstances.
When (not if) anxiety rears it’s ugly head, how do authentic leaders move through it and still be with their team?
Answer: Authentic leaders initiate anti-anxiety protocols before they are needed so they are second nature when anxiety hits.
Here are four easy favorites you could implement right now to prepare for and address anxiety (of course this is never intended to replace medical advice specific to your situation):
Sleep On It - You like breathing, right? And your brain cells? Sleeping is as important to life as breathing. A study released in 2014 showed a remarkable connection between sleep deprivation and death of brain cells. Lack of breathing may kill you in minutes, but lack of sleep also kills. It’s a slower demise riddled with anxiety and mental struggles making you statistically more likely to contract Alzheimer’s. Getting “enough” sleep (7-9 hours per night) improves mental health and mood. When’s the last time you went to bed as a cranky-pants curmudgeon and woke up acting more like your usual self? There’s a reason for that - your body is thanking you for not killing off more brain cells.
Caffeine is Not Your Friend - As enjoyable as a hot cup of warm goodness may sound, the repercussions of caffeine are mind altering and anxiety inducing. The half life of caffeine ranges from about 4-6 hours (depending on your metabolism), and since one of the common side effects of caffeine is artificial energy, the body is likely still working through the tail end of that mocha you enjoyed at lunch when you’re trying to avoid killing brain cells by sleeping enough at night.
Walk It Off - Physical activity - even a few minutes at a time - is a huge mood lifter. It gives your mind a break by letting your body do some of the work for a change.
Drink Up - No, I’m not talking about hitting the bottle. I’m talking about nature’s nectar, water. Remember elementary school where you were shown the outline of a person with water covering about 60% of the body? That’s still true. Dehydration sometimes mimics anxiety symptoms, such as racing heart, dizziness, weakness, and more. You have enough to worry about without your organs simulating an anxiety attack due to dehydration.
Leaders have enough to worry about in our current environment. Don’t waste precious time focusing on anxiety, rather work on what is in your control to reduce anxiety.