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12 Things You Can Do To Stop Worrying So Much

12 Things You Can Do To Stop Worrying So Much

Have you ever lost sleep to worrying, dreaming up a series of scenarios for what could do wrong? Don’t worry – you’re not morbid or a pessimist. Anxiety is a natural evolutionary response to a perceived threat, and worrying is your way of taking control over an otherwise uncertain situation. Worrying is a form of planning for the worst, and preparing accordingly.

In that sense, worrying can be productive. It’s a self-soothing mechanism when you are scared, sad, or angry about events beyond your immediate control. However, anxiety is also linked to depression and a host of physical symptoms, including insomnia, digestive disorders, and headaches.

Worrying is an illusory form of control. If anxiety is negatively impacting your life, it’s time to consider how you can stop worrying so much and get back to living boldly.

1. Set Aside Time to Worry

Carve out 15 minutes a day to worry, and only worry. When time’s up, you’re done. If worries start creeping into your day at other times, tell yourself you can think about it during your ‘Worry Time.’  Soon you’ll realize how much time is wasted by worrying, especially when you are worrying about the same things over and over again.

2. Prepare for the Worst

Worrying is a form of preparing yourself to face challenging situations. So go ahead, think of the worst case scenario and how you might respond. For example, let’s say you are losing sleep over a big presentation coming up at work. What’s the worst case scenario? You could completely bomb, forgetting your notes and having trouble getting the projector to work. People might laugh.

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In most cases, you can survive the worst case scenario. So don’t worry too much about it.

3. Hope for the Best

On the flip side, worry can be combatted against with an optimistic outlook. So if that same upcoming work presentation is causing you anxiety, it can be equally helpful to consider all the potential wonderful outcomes: your boss notices what an asset you are to the company, you increase credibility with your colleagues, and you might even discover a talent for public speaking.

4. Be Proactive

You can sit around agonizing over how to handle a certain situation or project, but the best way to alleviate worry is to tackle the issue head on. Remember, worrying is a form of planning, but it’s a waste of time if you don’t follow up with specific actions.

In other words, in order to stop worrying about how to do something, you need to get busy doing it.

5. Distract Yourself

When you are hyper-focused on worrying about one thing, it takes over your life. This kind of tunnel vision causes you to lose perspective. A college student might be tormented over a single paper, forgetting it’s ONE assignment for ONE class for ONE semester. So, yes, this might be a crucially important paper – perhaps the paper that will be the difference between passing or failing a class – but in no way is it the Single Most Important Event of this person’s life.

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Get out of your own head by distracting yourself with other activities you enjoy – working out, listening to music, going out for a nice meal, or meeting up with a friend.

6. Seek Support

Sometimes the quickest way to manage anxiety is to call on your support network. Find a family member, friend, or trusted colleague with whom you can openly discuss what you are worried about.

A good source of support is a person who does not minimize your concerns, big or small, offers advice when asked, and listens without judgment.

7. Support Others

A good way to stop worrying about your own problems is to help someone with theirs. Halt your internal dialogue about all of your worries by asking a friend, “How are you?” and really listening.

Consider volunteering your time with an animal rescue or homeless shelter, and shift your focus on helping other people contend with their personal struggles.

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8. Have a Conversation with a Professional

Relentless anxiety might be a sign of a medical condition, warranting a visit to the doctor or a licensed mental health professional. If anxiety is interfering with your quality of life, there is absolutely nothing wrong with approaching it the same as you would any illness and seeking medical help.

Alternatively, you can schedule an appointment with a trusted clergy member or similar spiritual authority if you are someone who derives strength from your faith.

9. Put It On Paper

In addition to setting aside time to worry, consider writing out your anxious thoughts in a journal. Sometimes seeing something on paper helps us better digest the information. Additionally, if you write down what you are worried about, over time you will likely notice a pattern in specific anxieties and your triggers.

By recording your worries, you will get bored of them, acknowledge the worst case scenario rarely (if ever) come to pass, and understand how to anticipate and cope with specific people or situations who cause you to worry in the fist place. 

10. Trade Anxiety For Appreciation

You know the saying, “Count your blessings”? Anxiety is related to fear, stress, anger, and a sense of desperation. Worrying about what you may or may not lose seems less productive when forcing yourself to remain cognizant of what you already have.

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So while you may not get that promotion you’ve been angling for, you might instead be grateful for secure employment with a paycheck that allows you to support yourself and your family.

11. Look for Role Models

It’s fine if you’re not a naturally anxiety-free person. History is full of plenty of distinguished persons who had to train themselves to stop worrying in order to accomplish great things. Abraham Lincoln, Sir Isaac Newton, and Sigmund Freud are all said to have struggled with anxiety disorder.

Eleanor Roosevelt overcame debilitating shyness to become the First Lady of the United States and a world-famous humanitarian. She advised, “You have to accept whatever comes and the only important thing is that you meet it with courage and with the best that you have to give.”

12. Challenge Yourself

Ultimately, the best option might be exposure therapy; challenge yourself to face your fears, big and small, until you no longer worry about their potential impact on your life. If you’re afraid of flying, book a flight, or even consider taking a flying lesson. If you worry about giving presentations at work, join a public speaking group.

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Last Updated on April 11, 2019

How to Improve Communication Skills for Workplace Success

How to Improve Communication Skills for Workplace Success

Possessing strong communication skills will help you in every phase of your life. This is especially true in the workplace.

I have personally worked with several leaders who were masters of communication. A few were wonderful speakers who could tell a great story and get everyone in the room engaged. Those of us in attendance would walk away feeling inspired and eager to help with what came next. Others were very skilled at sharing a clear direction and job expectations.

I knew exactly what was expected of me and how to achieve my goals. This was the foundation of an energized and vibrant role I was in. What I have found is strong communication skills are incredibly helpful and sometimes critical in how well we perform at work.

Here we will take a look at how to improve communication skills for workplace success.

How Communication Skills Help Your Success

Strong communication skills pave the way for success in many ways. Let’s look at a few of the big ones.

Create a Positive Experience

Here are two examples of how well developed communication skills helps create a positive experience:

When I first moved to the city I now live in, I began a job search. Prior to my first live interview, I was told an address to go to. Upon arriving at the address provided, I drove around and around attempting to find the location. After 15 minutes of circling and looking for the address, I finally grabbed a parking spot and set out on foot.

What I discovered was the address was actually down an alley and only had the number over the door. No sign for the actual company. The person that gave me those very unclear directions provided a bad experience for me.

Had they communicated the directions to get there in a clear manner, my experience would have been much better. Instead the entire experience started off poorly and colored the entire meeting.

As a recruiter, I frequently provide potential candidates with information about a job I’m speaking to them about. In order to do this, I also provide a picture of the overall company, the group they might be joining, and how their role fits in and impacts the entire company.

Time and time again I have been told by candidates that I have provided the clearest picture of a company and role they have ever heard. They have a positive experience when I clearly communicate to them. Even when the position does not work out for them, often times they will want to stay in touch with me due to the open communication and beneficial experience they had during the interviewing process.

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Strong communication skills will provide a positive experience in virtually any interaction you have with someone.

Help Leadership Skills

It’s certainly a skill all its own to be able to lead others.

Being a mentor and guiding others towards success is a major hallmark of great leaders. Another characteristic of effective leaders is the ability to communicate clearly.

As I referenced above, having a leader who can plainly articulate the company’s mission and direction goes a really long way towards being the Captain of the boat that others want to follow. It’s like saying “here’s our destination and this is how we are going to get there” in a way that everyone can get on board with.

Another critical component of everyone helping to sail the boat in the right direction is knowing what your portion is all about. How are you helping the boat move towards its destination in the manner than is consistent with the leaders’ vision?

If you have a boss or a manager that can show you what it takes for not only you to be successful, but also how your performance helps the company’s success then you’ve got a winner. A boss with superior communication skills.

Build Better Teams

Most of us work in teams of some sort or another. During the course of my career, I have led teams up to 80 and also been an individual contributor.

In my individual contributor roles, I have been part of a larger team. Even if you are in business for yourself, you have to interact with others in one manner or another.

If you have strong communication skills, it helps to build better teams. This is true whether you are in an IT department with 100 other fellow programmers or if you own your own business and have customers or vendors you communicate with.

When you showcase your robust ability to communicate well with others while interacting with them, you are building a better team.

Now let’s jump in to how to improve communication skills to help you pave the way for your workplace success.

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How to Improve Communication Skills for Workplace Success

There are many tips, tricks, and techniques to improve communication skills. I don’t want to overwhelm you with too much information, so let’s focus on the things that will provide the biggest return on your time investment.

Most of these tips will be fairly easy to become aware of but will take time and effort to implement. So let’s go!

1. Listen

Ever heard the saying you have two ears and one mouth for a reason? If you haven’t, then here’s the reason:

Being a good listener is half the equation to being a good communicator.

People who have the ability to really listen to someone can then actually answer questions in a meaningful way. If you don’t make the effort to actively listen, then you are really doing yourself and the other person a disservice in the communication department.

Know that person who is chomping at the bit to open his or her mouth the second you stop talking? Don’t be that person. They haven’t listened to at least 1/2 of what you’ve said. Therefore the words that spill out of their mouth are going to be about 1/2 relevant to what you just said.

Listen to someone completely and be comfortable with short periods of silence. Work on your listening skills first and foremost.

2. Know Your Audience

Knowing your audience is another critical component to having strong communication skills. The way you interact with your manager should be different than how you interact with your kids. This isn’t to say you need to be a different person with everyone you interact with. Far from it.

Here is a good way to think about it:

Imagine using your the same choice of words and body language you use with your spouse while interacting with your boss. That puts things in a graphic light!

You want to ensure you are using the type of communication most relevant to your audience.

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3. Minimize

I have lunch with a business associate about 3 times a year. We’ve been talking for several years now about putting a business deal together.

He is one of those people that simply overwhelms others with a lot of words. Sometimes when I ask him a question, I get buried beneath such an avalanche of words that I’m more confused than when I asked the question. Needless to say this is most likely a large portion of why we never put the deal together.

Don’t be like my lunch business associate. The goal of talking to or communicating with someone is to share actual information. The goal is not to confuse someone, it’s to provide clarity in many cases.

State what needs to be stated as succinctly as possible. That doesn’t mean you can’t have some pleasant conversation about the weather too.

The point is to not create such an onslaught of words and information that the other person walks away more confused than when they started.

4. Over Communicate

So this probably sounds completely counter intuitive to what I just wrote about minimizing your communication. It seems like it might be but it’s not.

What I mean by over communicating is ensuring that the other person understands the important parts of what you are sharing with them. This can be done simply yet effectively. Here’s a good example:

Most companies have open enrollment for benefits for the employees in the fall. The company I work for has open enrollment from November 1 to 15. The benefits department will send out a communication to all employees around October 1st, letting them know open enrollment is right around the corner and any major changes that year. There’s also a phone number and email for people to contact them with any questions.

Two weeks later, we all get a follow up email with basically the same information. We get a 3rd communication the week before open enrollment and another one 1 day before it starts.

Finally we get 2 emails during enrollment reminding us when open enrollment ends.

There’s minimal information, it’s more of a reminder. This is effective over communication.

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5. Body Language

The final critical component to how to improve communication skills for workplace success is body language. This is something most of us have heard about before but, a reminder is probably a good idea.

When I am in a meeting with someone I am comfortable with, I tend to kind of slouch down in my chair and cross my arms. When I catch myself doing this, I sit up straight and uncross my arms. I remember that crossing arms can many times be interpreted as a sign of disagreement or conflict.

In general, the best rule of thumb is to work towards having open body language whenever possible at work. This means relaxing your posture, not crossing your arms, and looking people in the eye when speaking with them.

When you are speaking in front of others, stand up straight and speak in a clear voice. This will convey confidence in your words.

Conclusion

Possessing strong communication skills will help you in many facets of your life and most certainly in the workplace.

Good communication helps create better teams, positive experiences with those we interact with, and are critical for leadership.

There are numerous tactics and techniques to be used to improve communication skills. Here we’ve reviewed how to improve communication skills for workplace success.

Now go communicate your way to success.

More Resources About Effective Communication

Featured photo credit: HIVAN ARVIZU via unsplash.com

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