4 Steps to Managing Fear and Anxiety

EQ Durban, EQ South Africa
Written by: Avril Kidd
Category: Life Skills | Stress
Tags: anxiety | fear
During lockdown, I realised how important it is for me to have a purpose and goals to work towards. These give me the focus that I need to move forward and develop a plan of action for the future.

Never regret a day in your life. Good days give you happiness and bad days give you experience. [Unknown]


 1. Recognise and manage fears and anxiety

 The past couple of years has taught me how to recognise and manage my own fears and anxiety.

 It is in trying times when faced with anxiety-provoking situations that I recognise the importance in identifying exactly what I am anxious about and consider, realistically, what the worst is that could happen. Being able to focus on possible solutions or options has helped to shift my focus and reduce the worst-case scenario. I also have to keep reminding myself to stop stressing about the things I can’t change and focus my energy on what is within my control to change or to shift my thoughts and feelings about it.

 Lockdown gave me insight into the type of person I am and what my strengths and challenges are. I realised how important it is for me to have a purpose and goals to work towards. These give me the focus that I need to move forward and develop a plan of action for the future.


 2. Practise self-reliance in times of adversity

Self-reliance helps us rise to the major challenges and opportunities that life presents, and builds confidence in our ability to exercise control. A major building block of that is having confidence in your own judgment and ability and being able and willing to take action. Put aside those limiting beliefs and use both your emotion and logic to make better decisions. Don’t let fear and self-doubt hold you back.

 During the pandemic I have had to shift out of my comfort zone. I was terrified of online facilitation and after a really scary start, I am proud to say that I have run several highly successful virtual EQ workshops with audiences from around the globe and have grown from around 10 delegates per session to 65 and 88 delegates for the Alliance Grow U festival during 2021. This sense of achievement and conquering of my fear has increased my motivation and is enabling me to move forward into 2021 with more confidence.

 I have had to practice using my head, trusting my gut and intuition, being brave in times of uncertainty, and owning my decisions. I have learnt that when decisions don’t work out, I need to take responsibility for them without resorting to regret or blame. I have tried to focus on what I have learned from that situation so that I can make a better informed decision if faced with a similar situation the next time. I am incredibly high in consequential thinking which often causes analysis paralysis and this together with my self-berating for making poor decisions at times can really hold me back. So shifting my perspective from regret to a learning opportunity is a big step.

 I can’t emphasize enough the importance of thoughts, feelings, and actions, how these are all intertwined, and how we need to take failure as a learning opportunity not a dead end.


 3. Improve skills of empathy

The last couple of years has taught me how to deliver bad news and manage disappointment. Empathy again proves critical and there are actions you can take to do this effectively and with care. Prepare what you’re going to say during these times and, if possible, consider the reactions and questions that might arise. Even if the news is urgent, never just blurt it out. Choose your words carefully as well as your tone of voice. Announce your intent to show that your intentions are sincere and caring even if the message may be difficult for the person receiving the news.

 I know many managers who have had to deliver really difficult news when retrenching staff; or health care workers informing families of bad news. Remember, HOW you say something can make such a difference to the person receiving the news. Empathy is critical in these situations.

 Share the context with the person you are addressing and explain what has led to the situation. Expect strong emotional responses during these times and always acknowledge their feelings. Your response should reflect your understanding of how the other person feels.


 4. Maintain an attitude of optimism

Optimism is the single biggest behaviour that positively affects our lives. It doesn’t mean being happy all the time. It means being able to see opportunity whilst being underpinned by resilience, to keep going to achieve that opportunity, even in tough times. Try to cultivate optimism by motivating and encouraging others. Acknowledge the challenges but emphasize the positive. If people are unsure or resistant, find out what their feelings and concerns are.

 Inspiring others means you acknowledge the difficulties but are clear that they can overcome difficulties and succeed. Focus on the positive and remember the TIE principle. Focus on and talk about people’s qualities and strengths rather than their weaknesses or challenges. If you can support people and encourage them when things are difficult, you will be inspiring them to see the best in themselves and the situation. You can also help others to visualize success. Picture what that success looks or feels like. Remember, everyone has a different view of success, so don’t assume what is success for you is the same for others. Ask and really listen to what success means to them.

Challenges are what make life interesting, and overcoming themis what makes life meaningful. [Joshua J. Marine]