5 Ways to Deal With Anxiety When You’re out of Your Comfort Zone
Anxiety is crippling. As I’m writing this right now, I feel my heart racing. My hands are twitching as I tap into my keyboard. My eyes, lightly filled with water. And I don’t even know why.
Breathe in. Breathe out.
The first step into discomfort
Stepping out of your comfort zone can initially be exhilarating. The initial excitement hits you like a warm wave. You’re caught up in your ideas of what-ifs and the potential. I know that’s how I felt when I decided to start a business.
It all started with a small seeding of an idea. I talked to over a 100 of my friends to see what they were struggling with. What their pain points were. And if I had anything within me to help ease their burden.
Living in such a go go go world, we seldom have the time to stop and answer for ourselves:
Is this what I really want to do?
Am I on the right path?
Am I happy with where my life is going?
Am I living out my full potential?
These were the questions my friends struggled to answer. And this was the problem I knew I had to fix.
Together we watered the seedling. We showered it with so much love and support. Words of encouragement. Honest feedback. My friends helped me grow my business into something I couldn’t NOT share with the world. I knew it had the potential to solve my community’s biggest pain point.
But then the anxiety came in
Suddenly I got lost in my head. I created this business that was ready to launch. Yet I was too scared to press the launch button.
I’m not uncomfortable exposing myself, but the idea of exposing my baby to the world terrified me. I had never done this before.
I found myself sleeping longer days. I found myself swimming in constant panic attacks. I found myself making excuses to watch Keeping Up with the Kardashians (oddly therapeutic) than work on my craft.
And it came to a point where I was almost MORE ready to let this blossomed flower die than show it off to the world
My fears of failure and uncertainty were slowly hacking away at it.
But I had a mentor who reminded me why I even started in the first place: To help people.
To help people like me: young, ambitious, confused, scared, full of hope and potential to truly change this world (but sometimes need a little help to get there).
This business was bigger than me. And as long as it could help one person, then I could find a way to temporarily stop watching the Kardashians and work through my anxiety.
How I dealt with my anxiety (and how you can too)
Emotions are a powerful thing. The only thing I’ve found more powerful is the mind. It has the ability to bring your body out of its negative state and back to a positive state. Below are some exercises and ideas that I used to manage my anxiety and hopefully they can work for you too.
1. Breathe. Aka Power Breathe
This is simple. Deep, slow breaths help us relax but the Power Breath goes one step further. Just breathe out for double the time that you’d breathe in. For example, I count 2 beats in my head breathing in. I count 4 beats in my head breathing out.
Breathe in (1–2)
Breathe out (1–2–3–4)
I often fall back to this exercise as the exercise makes your body go back to a calm, relaxed state. Focusing on the counting also helps revert your focus from your anxiety triggers to keeping track of your breath.
“Where focus goes, energy flows” -Tony Robbins
2. Identify all your triggers and where they’re stemming from
After doing the power breath and bringing myself back to a relaxed state, I get out a piece of paper or my laptop and I start identifying all my triggers for my current anxiety.
In this case, my two triggers were:
- Fear of uncertainty
- Fear of failure
Then, I try to go down deeper. I break it to its root issues. What exactly am I anxious about?
- I’m anxious about people not finding my service
- I’m anxious about people not finding value in my service
- I’m anxious that I cannot support the business costs
- I’m anxious that this will blow up into a million pieces
- I’m anxious that I will self-sabotage myself and not push myself to share this with as many people as possible
- I’m anxious that this will not work out
- I’m anxious about building the reputation and credibility I need
- I’m anxious about the time it’ll take to get the ball moving and my general lack of patience with it
Putting feelings to paper helps me see my feelings, acknowledge them, and start working with them rather than them against me.
3. De-risk all the Worst Case Scenarios
Write down all the worst case scenarios. And I mean every single thing you can think of. Even if it’s totally ridiculous.
Then next to it, write down what you can do to prevent it from happening or decrease the chances of it occurring.
- My initial business model of coaching will not work → Create multiple points of revenue so if one model doesn’t work, try another. For example, online products, working directly with colleges, live events, and seminars, working with other people in this space
- Nobody will want to buy my service → Talk to your customers. See if there’s a middle ground where you’re both comfortable with the value you’re providing
- Nobody will find value in the service → Get feedback from your friends. Offer free runs of it in exchange for honest feedback and testimonials. The long shot game is more important than quick wins
- I won’t be able to afford running my business → Take a side job to help pay off expenses. Watch your own spending habits. Walk more. Take fewer Ubers. Create a budget plan
- I won’t have enough time to run the business → Block out times in your calendar and ONLY work on the business then. Have clear goals of what you want to accomplish each week
- Nobody will want to work with me → You have people who can vouch that you’re good at what you do. Use your advocates to show your value. Work from the ground up
By de-risking your worst case scenarios, you have a go-to plan should anything go south (and chances are, most worst case scenarios won’t happen. But hey, now you’re prepared).
“When thinking about life, remember this: No amount of guilt can solve the past, and no amount of anxiety can change the future.” - Unknown
4. Define all the Positives and Benefits of Action
Our brains have a negativity bias. It can take up to 5 positive thoughts to reverse one negative thought. We’re hard wired this way due to our evolutionary past of surviving in the wilderness. For the action(s) anxiety is preventing you from taking, write down all the positives and benefits of taking it.
- I’ll be able to devote my life doing something which I absolutely love, helping people figure out what they want to do and supporting them through their journey
- Help people realize their true wants, needs, and purpose, and help them pursue what they truly want to do
- Give back to all the people who have supported and guided me
- Prove to myself that I could do this
- Provide time, attention and love to all the people I care about in this world
- I’ll be able to support myself, do what I want and when I want it without worry
Building up what I call a fountain of happiness provides you a place to soak in all the good vibes and thoughts when the evil face of anxiety calms crawling back.
5. Pinpoint the Price of Inaction
I use this exercise to show me what my anxiety is holding me back from. This helps me push through because the price of inaction is often higher than I could bear in the long run.
Be specific. What is the price of inaction for you? Think emotionally, physically, psychologically, financially, and beyond yourself. Think next 6 months, 1 year, 5 years, 10 years, your life.
- There will be at least one person who will be miserable in their career because they didn’t know how to deal with their limiting beliefs, discover what they actually want to do, and learn all the skills to get a career they love. And I couldn’t help them
- I will constantly be thinking what-if and be mad at myself for not taking action on something I truly believed in. And pretty sure that would lead to a depressive spiral
- I would save some money from not running the business but would lose a huge upside by not pursuing it at all
- I will lose all the potential learning of running a business which I can use for my next venture
- I will lose out on all the potential connections I could make with people who are going to change the world
- I will not push myself to ask for help, work with other creators in this space, and not build a network of people who inspire me to do what I love
- I will lose out on creating a career that I love
When you see the cost of not acting, it creates a new drive in you.
Even when anxiety is knocking at your door, you see that you have something bigger than yourself to live for and to work for. And that is a powerful thing.
I go back to these exercises when I feel my anxiety coming back. They don’t always stop it but they certainly help me manage my anxiety. I hope you find value in them as you go out into the world and do your thing. You’ve got too loud a voice to let anxiety keep you from singing.