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5 Ways Anxiety Holds Back Your Success and How To Overcome It

A person with their elbows on a table with their hands folded over their mouth in quiet contemplation.

A boss that’s always on your back, tight deadlines, heavy traffic, family issues, relationship problems and health concerns cause stress and anxiety. While it’s normal to have a certain amount of anxiety about your life, excessive anxiety can actually morph into an anxiety disorder. Left untreated, anxiety holds you back, impacts your health, puts your career in jeopardy and can have a negative effect on your relationships both at work and at home.

Workplace anxiety is especially prevalent, affecting more than 40 million Americans, many of which struggle to become successful. In fact, there are five specific ways that anxiety holds people back from achieving their life goals so they can live their best life. Once you know how to control your anxiety, however, it will actually help you become more successful.

Uncontrollable Fear

Some anxiety disorder sufferers say they feel anxious and fearful to the point of not being able to leave the house, much less get a job, or socialize. When that type of fear grips a person, it is difficult to overcome and can affect every aspect of a person’s life. Not only does anxiety manifest itself emotionally, but also physically, financially, and socially. It becomes more and more difficult for someone with anxiety issues to distinguish between real threats and anxiety induced fear with no real basis.

Loss of Confidence

Anxiety creates strong feelings of worry, negatively affecting a person’s self-esteem, leading to a total lack of confidence. It’s hard enough to compete with other people for recognition, and when you aren’t confident, it’s even more difficult. Loss of confidence leads people to hide in the shadows, trying not to be noticed, just getting by until the end of the day. Any negative reviews, criticism, or negative input from others further erodes the confidence, causing even further withdrawal, in a vicious cycle.

Apathetic Attitude

Long-term, chronic anxiety oftentimes leads to a complete loss of interest in anything outside of an individual’s comfort zone. At work, they are the quiet ones in the back of the meeting room, distanced from everyone else. They aren’t likely to have anything to input, they just plod their way through the day, waiting for quitting time. While the lack of interest limits their exposure to new ideas, it also creates a barrier between them and colleagues that could help further their career.

Missed Deadlines

The vast majority of people work under a certain amount of pressure, usually in the form of deadlines from a demanding boss. An anxiety sufferer may find the deadline to be too close, causing them to stop dead in their tracks, unsure if they’re going to pull it off. As the deadline draws nearer, the anxiety builds up, and the work doesn’t get finished on time. Missing too many deadlines isn’t going to win any favor with the boss. In fact, it’s likely to lead to some form of punishment, perhaps even job loss.

Missed Opportunities

The success stories of countless individuals include one critical component, taking advantage of an opportunity they were presented with. For someone who’s anxious and afraid, opportunities are often perceived as threatening situations that should be avoided. Rather than seek a promotion, try for a higher paying job, take classes, or change careers, anxiety sufferers prefer to remain in a safe spot. They settle for the pay they can get, don’t make any waves, or draw attention to themselves.

Tips For Overcoming Work-Related Anxiety

Some people seem to thrive on stress and anxiety, like those ultra-successful Wall Street stock brokers and traders you hear about. They continually put themselves in high-stakes, high-stress situations where they can literally make, or lose, millions of dollars at any given moment. In truth, some anxiety and stress are actually good for performance, pushing the person to achieve. What’s different about those with Type A personality is that they’ve learned how to turn their stress and anxiety into a motivating factor that helps them succeed, rather than getting in their way. Here are a few tips to help you overcome your own anxieties so that you can find your version of happiness and success.

Accept Your Anxiety

When you begin to feel anxious at work, try looking at the anxiety as a fuel source that will help you perform better. While it’s not a comfortable feeling, with practice you will learn that you can actually tolerate it quite well. Sure, your hands might shake, your palms may get sweaty and you might have butterflies in your stomach. All of those feelings are normal for someone who’s facing a stressful situation. Rather than fight it, accept that it exists and focus that nervous energy into your work. You’ll find that over time, you’ll get better at shifting your attention and directing your energy.

Practice Deep Breathing

When you’re feeling exceptionally anxious, your body’s natural reaction is to go into either fight or flight mode. Your heart rate will increase, your breathing will become quicker and more shallow as you prepare to take off. Diaphragmatic breathing, or deep belly breaths, help relax your body. Sit, or lie down, put one hand on your chest and your other hand on your stomach. Slowly inhale through your nose, allowing your belly to expand. Purse your lips and slowly exhale as your belly returns to normal. There is no rule for how many of these breaths work best, just keep belly breathing until you feel calm.

Talk To A Professional

Anxiety disorders are extremely common, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t serious health concerns. It can be difficult to talk to friends and family members about anxiety, especially if they’ve never experienced it. A professional counselor, however, understands that anxiety can be debilitating and they know how to help. Don’t let prejudice or stigma stop you from seeking the help that you need. Thousands upon thousands of people visit therapists and counselors every year for help managing their anxiety and stress.

If you’re struggling with anxiety, and consider speaking with us about anxiety counseling. We understand that your anxiety is causing you to miss out on opportunities and limits your ability to succeed and we want to help. Our services are available to individuals, groups, families, and anyone needing help improving their emotional health and well-being.