Anxiety is defined as your body’s natural response to stress, and the feeling of fear about what’s to come.
My definition of “Work Anxiety” is that stress and worrying about what’s to come related to your job.
Work Anxiety can be especially present for entrepreneurs, as there is a lot of uncertainty in our world and most of us are wired a little different.
As Entrepreneurs, a majority of us are Type A personalities – meaning we are competitive, critical, and have a constant sense of urgency.
We always need to be doing something, we view our jobs as a competitive game and we need to keep pushing forward, and everything seems like it needs to be done yesterday.
This can lead to some major work-related anxiety and is something I’ve battled with a lot over my 11+ years as an entrepreneur.
And I know there are plenty of entrepreneurs out there dealing with these same anxiety issues.
In fact, anxiety and depression has increase by 50% over the last 20 years and that number is said to be climbing.
If you are battling with Work Anxiety know that you definitely aren’t alone, and it’s a normal feeling for an Entrepreneur.
In order to figure out how to reduce your work anxiety it’s smart to find out what’s causing the anxiety in the first place.
What Causes Work Related Anxiety?
Anxiety in the workplace can be caused by many different events and factors, but I will list some common causes for me as an entrepreneur.
Uncertainty of What’s Next
As entrepreneurs, we usually aren’t sure what’s coming next. Our businesses are often changing and we need to stay on top of things or our business and revenue can suffer.
For example, if your business is based online like me this could be worrying about what changes the ad platforms (ie. Facebook) are going to make.
Or if you are a small local gym, for example, this could be worrying about a franchise gym opening next door.
Too Much On Your Plate
Entrepreneurs generally wear many hats within their
When you have too much going on in your head it’s tough to take a minute to breathe and relax.
You are always jumping on the next task that needs to be done and you aren’t spending any downtime that your body needs and deserves.
Not Knowing Where Your Next Dollar is Coming From
Many entrepreneurs are basically working paycheck to paycheck, and many are even trying to fight to get out of debt – especially when starting out.
For new businesses sales can be slow and revenue coming in isn’t guaranteed at any time.
As you can imagine at this time things would be extremely stressful, and it would be hard to ever feel relaxed.
Having a Family Rely On You
The pressures of being an entrepreneur are already pretty high, with a high percentage of new businesses failing, but the stakes are higher when you’ve got a family to support.
As a teenager things aren’t too bad as an entrepreneur – if things don’t work out you barely have any expenses to pay and you can often land on your feet just fine.
But when you’re an entrepreneur supporting a significant other and possibly children – if things don’t work out you may be scrambling to keep things normal at home.
How Your Brain is Wired
I touched on this in the introduction, but a high percentage of entrepreneurs have “Type A Behaviour Patterns”.
We are people who are competitive, time urgent, hostile and aggressive (only at times I hope).
How do you know if you are Type A?
- Do you feel guilty if you use your spare time to relax?
- Do you need to win in order to derive enjoyment from games/sports?
- Do you often try to do more than one thing at a time?
- Do you walk, move, or eat rapidly?
If you answered yes to 2 or more of those you are probably Type A (don’t feel bad I answered yes to all 4).
Unfortunately being Type A can cause us to have our “flight or fight” response set off by things in our environment frequently, which is also know as the feeling you get when your anxiety has kicked in.
This is just the way our brains were wired, and there isn’t really a way to change that – but we can work on reducing and limiting those feelings.
Tips To Reduce Work Anxiety
The above causes of entrepreneurial work-related anxiety aren’t fun, but with that said, I wouldn’t trade being an entrepreneur for any job (unless an NHL team wants to offer me a contract).
Here are 5 ways I’ve found to reduce these feelings of uneasiness, uncertainty, and fear caused by work anxiety.
“To-Do” and “Ideas” Lists
Freeing up your head space is huge for anxiety.
I used to often get anxiety because I would be worried about forgetting about things I needed to do, but I’ve helped get rid of that using software called Trello.
Within Trello we have different “boards” that allow me to write down anything that is on my mind to come back to and find easily.
My two favorite and most useful boards for reducing anxiety are the “Ideas + Brainstorming” board and the “To Do” board.
Within the Idea and Brainstorming board we have different lists for everything we create in our business. When an idea comes into my head I can write it down in one of the lists and not have to worry about trying to remember it.
The “To Do” board allows us to brain dump absolutely everything that needs to be done in our business. We then organize the lists with things that need to be done this week, and things that just need to be done eventually.
I use to think I needed to do something as soon as I thought of it because I was worried I would forget about it, but having this Trello board has saved me from some unnecessary anxiety.
Having software to write down anything that comes into your head is extremely important if you want to reduce your work-related anxiety. The ‘notes’ app on your phone would work, but Trello is a much better solution.
A calendar app that you can master is a life saver.
When you can schedule your day and your week your life will be so much more relaxed.
This is something I waited too long to get started with, and if you don’t have a calendar app that you use religiously I recommend you start today.
Part of the “uncertainty of what’s next” that I talked about earlier can simply just be not knowing what you are going to be doing within your business tomorrow.
Not knowing where your time is going to be dedicated each day can cause stress and anxiety that doesn’t need to be there.
Within my Google Calendar app I schedule my entire work day.
Time spent in the office working on my week’s To Do List is in blue. My scheduled workouts and dog walks are in green. My important meetings and appointments are in red. And if I need to be reminded about something Google Calendar has a reminder/task feature that is perfect.
Now I can stop worrying about where I need to be and what I need to be doing and just free my mind to get to work.
If you want to learn more about setting up a Google Calendar system for yourself I recommend Dan’s Productivity Course where he has a lesson on using Google Calendar to increase productivity.
Set Realistic Deadlines
Deadlines are massively important for entrepreneurs if you want to get things done and move forward in your business.
Most of us will procrastinate without a deadline in place and our businesses would suffer.
With that said, deadlines can often be the cause of anxiety.
As entrepreneurs we often underestimate the time things take to get done, and overestimate that amount of work we can handle in a short period.
This leads to setting unrealistic deadlines on projects, which leads to overworking, stressing out, and anxiety.
It’s a very fine line, because we do want to keep moving forward as quick as possible within our businesses, but we don’t want to push deadlines up too far that it causes us anxiety (leading to poor work performance).
This will take some trial and error work within your business, but for each task try to figure out what a realistic deadline should be before slapping a random deadline date on it.
Sometimes it is as simple as hiring an extra hand to help within your business.
This can be tough for a lot of entrepreneurs, especially when there isn’t a lot of revenue coming in, but hiring help can free your time up to work on big tasks that will move your business forward.
In the short term you may be earning less money with the extra expense, but in the long run your business and health will benefit.
When you overwork yourself and your stress and anxiety levels increase your work performance decreases – that is the real expense here.
Write down every single task you perform in your business and figure out which tasks you can hand off to someone else, even if it’s just part-time work.
Slow Down or Take a Break
This is probably the tip that we all need to hear for reducing our anxiety levels – slow down!
If it were easy we would all be anxiety-free. Unfortunately it’s something that needs to constantly be worked on.
We are wired to always keep going, and sometimes we feel like we have no other option when we need to make a living.
In the end, if you don’t slow down and take breaks you are going to burn out or deal with depression that will pretty much force you to stop in a less desirable fashion.
I feel like I could write a whole separate posts on ways I’ve found to help my brain slow down and force myself to take breaks, but my biggest tips here would be:
Schedule in breaks during your day – I schedule in a 1-2 hour window in the middle of the day to take a break from the office and go home to see my daughter, walk the dogs, and/or go to the gym.
Take days off – Schedule in off days. Many of us entrepreneurs tend to work 6-7 days a week and ignore holidays. Take holidays off or if that doesn’t work at least schedule days off throughout your year.
Go on vacation – Get completely away from work at least 2 weeks of the year, and ideally more.
Stop and think – Every so often sit down and take a look at how far you’ve come, what you’ve accomplished recently, and take a minute to realize that if you slow down things are still going to be ok.
Reducing Work Anxiety Recap
Work-related anxiety is completely normal. I would guess that more entrepreneurs struggle with this than those who don’t.
Be in peace with the fact that this is something hire wired into your brain and you probably won’t ever completely get rid of it, but realize that there are plenty of ways that you can help control and reduce your work anxiety.
If you found this article because you’re dealing with high levels of anxiety right now, just know that it often comes in waves and you feel be feeling better soon enough.
If you have any questions or comments related to work anxiety feel free to leave them below or send me an email at Kevin (at) CreateFreedom.com
I hope you found this article helpful and if you think you know anyone who would be interested in reading it please forward it to them.