Women in Business: How to Effectively Deal With Anxiety as a Leader

In 2020, the year of Covid and lockdowns, cases of anxiety soared by 25%. The decrease in social interaction and the looming virus meant that very few people’s well-being remained at pre-Covid levels, but this jump wasn’t as unexpected as you may think. In fact, anxiety was on the rise far before Covid was in the picture. Even now, as the world starts to return to normal, it’s still a huge problem for many people around the world, and cases continue to rise.

If you’re a woman in leadership who struggles with anxiety – post-Covid or otherwise  – you definitely aren’t alone. To help you overcome it and be your best self in the workplace, here are some of the top tips for telling your anxiety who’s boss.

Make Room For Your Anxiety

When you’re in a leadership role, some days you don’t even have time for a cup of coffee, let alone anxious thoughts. So, you push them away. You shove them to the back of your mind and try to maintain uber-focused on the tasks at hand. But this doesn’t cure your anxiety, it simply leaves it to fester and grow.

It’s important you make time to deal with anxious thoughts when they occur to stop this from happening. You might want to take a quiet five minutes to sit with your thoughts and carry out a coping strategy. On days when everything is a bit too much, making room for anxiety could even mean taking a half-day. Your career is important, but no to-do list is worth jeopardising your mental health over. Besides, no matter how often you push the anxiety away, if you don’t deal with it, it’ll keep coming back!

Seek Professional Anxiety Treatment

If you struggle to find time to deal with your anxiety or it’s becoming debilitating, consider seeking professional anxiety treatment. A trained therapist will be able to lead you on the journey to overcoming your anxious thoughts and feelings. From uncovering the source of your issue to working through your negative behaviour patterns, this is undoubtedly the best way to improve your wellbeing.

Having an appointment also ensures you’ll keep working on the problem. If you have a date and time scheduled in your diary, you’ll be much less likely to push it away. Book in for treatment and put your self-care first.

Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle

The lifestyle of many female leaders is a goldmine for anxiety. Not enough sleep, quick food on the go, and very little downtime are all going to feed your problem and keep it growing. If you want to address your mental health, you need to re-work your routines.

By setting boundaries, you can create a healthier lifestyle that doesn’t trigger your anxiety. If someone asks for a meeting at 7 am, for example, say no and offer an alternative time that lets you sleep and have a proper separation between work and home. Make healthy eating a priority and when you’re out of work, turn off your emails and keep your phone on silent so that you can properly relax.

The get-up-and-go attitude that doesn’t leave room for self-care isn’t sustainable. Creating a healthy work-life balance is vital not only to keeping anxiety at bay but also to ensure you don’t burn yourself out.

Address Your Anxious Thoughts

A lot of the time, anxious thoughts are totally irrational. Your mind is spiralling out, causing you to feel panicked over something that really doesn’t need panicking over.

When you feel the first tingles of anxiety, sit down and ask yourself, “What am I actually worried about?”. Sometimes, this can be enough to put the problem in perspective and calm your fears.

Other times, you may find that the thought does panic you. In these situations, remind yourself that worrying won’t do anything. Action, however, can. Is there anything you can do to ease your anxiety and prepare for the situation? If you’re anxious about a speech, for example, practising in front of a colleague or writing down some notes could be enough to still your mind. 

Addressing your anxieties and breaking them down is a lot better than pushing them away. Sometimes, a little perspective and planning can do wonders for a mind that’s spinning out of control.

Find Coping Mechanisms That Work For You

Although addressing your thoughts is wonderful when you know what’s wrong, many people can feel anxious for no clear reason. In these scenarios, it’s particularly important to have coping mechanisms that will calm you down. Some of the most common coping methods for anxiety sufferers include:

  • Aromatherapy 
  • Deep and focused breathing
  • Getting outside amongst nature
  • Writing down your thoughts
  • Going for a run

Not all of these will work for everyone, and it may take time before you find something that calms you down. If you’re struggling, speak with a professional who can help uncover the right coping mechanisms for you. 

Surround Yourself With a Supportive Team

As a leader, you know how important your team is. This doesn’t just apply to growing your brand or furthering your cause but also to providing support. When you’re not feeling great, you should be able to rely on your team for help. 

Having staff that can take your place when you need time off is essential, especially for those with mental health issues. When your anxiety flares up, and you need to take a break, at least one person (preferably more) on your team should be able to take over without fuss. No drama, no questions asked: just ready to go when you need them.

It’s also important that you can be honest with your closest team. You don’t have to tell everyone you work with that you have anxiety, but if your closest circle knows, it’ll take a lot of the pressure off.

Final Words

Anxiety isn’t easy to deal with in a leadership role, and it can quickly get in the way of your work. But, with these tips, we hope you find it easier to begin your journey to overcoming anxious thoughts and become the female leader we all know you are.