Have you ever felt so stressed over your business that you seriously thought you were having a panic attack? As a business coach, I see and hear this lot, particularly with new entrepreneurs.
The stress builds and builds and builds. I really do believe that some entrepreneurs experience actual panic attacks, and one of the reasons is that they have not learned some of the critical-thinking skills for managing those feelings of stress.
Recently, I wrote about the emotional side of business. Panic attacks are very much connected to emotions. This state of being serves no one. It can cost you business by way of lost customers, unproductive time, absenteeism, procrastination, migraine headaches, and so much more.
The good news is that there IS good news. There are techniques for managing this kind of stressful thinking.
Wikipedia’s definition: “Panic attacks, also known as anxiety attacks, are periods of intense fear or apprehension of sudden onset accompanied by at least four or more bodily or cognitive symptoms (such as heart palpitations, dizziness, shortness of breath, or feelings of unreality) and of variable duration from minutes to hours.”
I know, with my workload last week, that I could easily have experienced a panic attack. But I didn’t. And I know why I didn’t, and I attribute it all to the critical-thinking skills that I have learned and mastered over the past 20 years.
I want to give you the top 3 steps to avoiding a panic attack that came to my mind last week as I worked my way through the long “to get done” list, the deadlines, the phone inquiries, and so much more. The benefits of mastering these three steps are many – and I’ll cover those at the end of the article
1. BE AWARE
This is a significant first step. Stop. Breathe. Listen. Think. Be aware of what is going on in your mind and around you. So often, we act robotically – just getting one thing done after the other. And so often, things pile up – and quickly – and become overwhelming. I hear it all the time from clients and colleagues – “I am so overwhelmed.” That is a form of negative self-talk. When you tell yourself that is how you are feeling, it is a self-fulfilling prophecy. The more you dwell on those feelings, the more real they become. So, just stop for a minute and take it all in. Be aware and breathe
2. MAKE A LIST
We live and work in a fast-paced world. So often, things pile up and, before we know it, it all feels out of control – and certainly out of OUR control. I know. I get these feelings too! When this happens, and I follow Step No. 1 above, I stop and move to a different location in my office and start to make a list. That list is officially known, in my world, as a “brain dump.” I’ve got to clear my head of all the things bouncing around in there. Once I’ve written the list, I separate it into two categories: items IN my control and items OUT of my control. For those items out of my control, I have learned to let them go! Let. It. Go! For those IN my control, I move to Step No. 3.
As entrepreneurs, especially in the beginning of our businesses, we believe that we can do it all ourselves. As the business grows, I can certainly tell you that it is impossible to do it all ourselves – even though our thinking is that, “Well, I can do it faster myself, rather than making the time to explain it to someone.” You’ve got to learn to delegate, and the sooner you do, the better everything will be. I have a great team, and I am constantly improving my delegation skills. I want to grow my business and still have a life. The panic-attack feeling can easily slip into my thinking if I keep everything on my own plate and attempt to get it all done. That is stupid thinking. If you do not have a team, then get yourself a virtual assistant (or personal assistant) as soon as possible. Your mental and physical health depends on it! And so does the success of your business.
BONUS STEP – REMOVE YOURSELF FROM THE ENVIRONMENT
I have learned over the years to absolutely follow the steps listed above when I am beginning to feel overwhelmed. Once I have done that, then the next step is to remove myself from my office/work environment for a short while. I must get outside, go for a walk, get some fresh air … and breathe, even if it is just for 15 minutes. This action makes ALL the difference in the world! I come back to my desk feeling pretty much like a new person and am ready to jump back in.
There are times, for all of us, when things pile up – and quickly – and we let them take over. Don’t do that. Take the steps I have given you to heart. Implement them immediately and see the difference it will make. The benefits far outweigh the fear you have of trying something new. These benefits will serve you well in your business:
• You get control of your mindset.
• You are in control of your health.
• Your team will thank you!
• You will get more done.
• You will be more fun to work with (and to live with).
• Your business will grow.
• You will be able to focus on the work you love and do well.
There is no point in getting yourself worked into a panic attack. These steps are easy. If I can do them, you can, too!
Photo cred: Signsofthetimes.org.au