The 2-question method to stop debilitating anxiety attacks before they start

Another article on anxiety? Yes – because the triggers for our anxiety are still there, even as we enter a promising New Year. Covid-19 is looming, climate disasters are violating communities around the world and our future in business is uncertain, even if we appreciate remarkably low unemployment.

Instead of dreading the onset of anxiety attacks that will potentially disrupt our work and our personal lives, it’s time to be proactive. Life – and business – goes on, and we must move forward towards innovation, growth and ambitious goals with safety and sanity in mind.

Step 1: Identify common triggers. Yes, anxiety can be everywhere. However, it often happens that specific triggers are more likely to lead to full-blown anxiety attacks. Be aware of these – take stock of your situation and the circumstances when you feel an attack is coming. Over time, you will likely notice patterns or triggers that reappear.

Step 2: As you work to identify triggers, implement a plan to deal with anxiety before it gets out of hand. Much of the advice I have given in this column on anxiety reduction is responsive. Having breathing and calming exercises on hand is commendable, but it’s best to get ahead.

Like Eckhart Tolle posed, anxiety is largely rooted in thoughts and feelings about the past or the future – things that cannot be changed and / or are unknown. Anxiety also feeds on exaggerated feelings that often do not correspond to reality or the facts. To address both when you experience increasing anxiety (i.e. as a trigger), ask yourself two questions:

  1. Does my anxiety stem from thoughts / feelings about the past or the future? If so, consciously shift your thoughts to the present. It helps bring your senses into the equation so that you have a tangible and experiential element to bring you to the present. What do you see, feel, smell, hear right now? Focus on it.
  2. Are my feelings based on reality / facts, or are they rooted in my negative imagination? In other words, is your mind fabricating situations / circumstances that elicit emotional responses – as opposed to what is actually happening? It allows you to identify, in concrete terms, what your feelings are based on. Then match that up with what you know about reality. In many cases, our anxiety comes from fabrications.

It might seem like a silly exercise, but our minds are constantly buzzing, bringing up new thoughts that can trigger a panic attack. If we train ourselves to be aware of the onset of anxiety and take the time to cut it off before it has a chance to develop, we will reduce the potential for upheaval, emotional exhaustion and loss. mental tension.

This is especially important for business leaders who are always on the move, the anxious buzz of their minds always in the background. Instead of derailing meetings, presentations, and critical work, take 5 minutes periodically to answer anxiety with the two questions above. Eventually, you will train your mind to think in the present, a present based on fact and not fiction, calm and not anxiety.

The opinions expressed here by the columnists of are theirs and not those of

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