Disclaimer: Evergray supports both seeking professional help for anxiety, and exploring ideas such as the one detailed below in order to find the best solution for each individual.
Energy is such a special and finite thing - energy to grow your business, and even your anxious energy. We only have so much of it, and if we’re young and healthy, it may even seem like we’ve just got a neverending supply of it. But we don’t.
What we spend our energy on - whether it’s our business, our anxiety, or something else - grows.
Earlier this summer, I was bitten by a tick. (I promise this is relevant!) That tick gave me Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and possibly Lyme Disease as well, and I got sick. I mean, really sick - I had every bodily symptom that you could think of, including hallucinations and what sounded like bugs inside my head, for just about a month and a half before it all started tapering off.
(If you landed here wanting more specific entrepreneurial tips, you’re not going to get that in this article, but you can get that here, here, & here.) This post is about how I manifest my imagination energy into my business, and less of it into unproductive anxiety.)
I’m still young, and have always been pretty healthy, so before all of that tick bite nonsense, I had taken my health for granted quite a bit. But what I also realized that I had taken for granted was my energy.
People who have had health scares or serious illnesses (much worse than my little tick-borne disease!), understand this all too well. Their message usually seems to be to not waste energy on people, places, or things that don’t serve your higher purpose.
Anxiety serves my higher purpose when it’s channeled productively
So if you’re an entrepreneur, chances are - your business is made up of creative, imagination energy. Even if your actual work or day-to-day business is boring - you had the creative vision to make a business out of nothing. You imagined something that wasn’t there before, and then you acted on it. This type of mentality (vision and imagination), also seems to make you prone to anxiety, as this Harvard Business Review article explains.
If you’re capable of imagining up a new business, you’re capable of imagining up negative scenarios, which can manifest into anxiety
Now that we’ve (essentially) established that the connection between your business and anxiety seems to be your imagination energy, we can get right into trying to have less anxiety & more business growth. So here's what I basically say to myself every time I get into a little worry rut:
Start by writing out what you’re anxious about that pertains to your business. Are you worried that you’ll have to get a ‘normal’ job if you can’t maintain consistent revenue? Is it Imposter Syndrome? Are you anxious about not having enough time in the day to make all of this work? Are you worried about sacrificing too much time for your family? Write it all out somewhere.
Now read all of what you just wrote - I guarantee that you’ll find (on trusty Google), that tons of other entrepreneurs have these exact same fears. Many of the ones that end up super successful seem to have tapped into that anxious energy & harnessed it instead of letting it get out of control.
I believe that all energy can be channeled, and anxiety is a type of energy. Seek out professional help if you need it, of course, but I like to try something different too - channeling those fears/anxiety into productive creative thinking and tasks that will grow my business. So Step 3 is where we do this.
For example, if you’ve got anxiety about whether or not you’ll be able to maintain consistent revenue in your business - instead of only worrying about it and letting that anxiety grow bigger and bigger, try to retrain your brain to use that energy on something more productive. Try to focus instead on action that gets you into a place where you’ll have more revenue streams, and therefore a higher chance of having consistent revenue. And you might say 'Yes - but I'm already doing both the worrying & the action parts!' But imagine how much more energy you'd have for action if you got almost completely out of your head.
I've found for me that the more and more I refocus my energy on creative tasks that accomplish business goals instead of just letting anxiety consume me, the easier it gets to repeat the process.
Eventually, anxiety came to be what initiates creative processes for me
Entrepreneurship holds a plethora of tasks that you could be doing at any given moment, but some of these tasks are more creative than others. So the next time that you feel some anxiety run down your spine or a little anxious heart palpitation, try telling your brain to instead focus on one of the specific creative tasks that could eliminate that worry.
*Remember, these are only ideas based on personal experiences with mild 'entrepreneurial anxiety' that I've had & was able to refocus. It's better to speak to a licensed therapist if you're really struggling.