“Oh my gosh!” she said.
“What’s wrong?” I asked.
A few months ago, I went to the doctor’s office for my standard yearly check up.
The nurse brought me to the back room, made small talk for a few minutes, and then, per usual, had me lift up my sleeve so she could check my blood pressure.
And the next words that came out of her mouth were something you never want to hear from a medical professional…
She looked at me, shook her head, and responded, “Nothing actually…I’m just amazed that your blood pressure is so low!”
I couldn’t help but smile.
Because only a few short years ago, my anxiety was so out of control that I had the resting heart rate of a squirrel after a 3 scoops of pre-workout.
Anxiety attacks…of the “I can’t breathe and I think I might die” variety…were a monthly occurrence (I even checked myself into the ER on three occassions one year).
But today, even with all of the stress, responsibilities, and challenges of growing a new business…I’m calmer and more relaxed than ever before.
Not because my life or business are easier than they used to be (they aren’t)…
But because I’ve structured my life in such a way that anxiety cannot exist.
As an entrepreneur, you deal with more stress and overwhelm on a weekly basis than the average person does in a year.
And even though it’s normal to feel anxious from time to time, you need to build habits and structures that mitigate and reduce your anxiety so that you can perform at the highest levels and make progress toward your biggest goals.
Today, I’m going to share the 9 simple tips you can use to recover from an entrepreneurial anxiety attack and ensure that they never happen again.
They might be simple. But I promise you…they work.
If you’ll take action on these 9 tips and make them a regular part of your life, you’ll be able to beat entrepreneurial anxiety for good and achieve a level of performance and productivity you never believed possible.
1. Get Outside
On New Year’s Day in 2006, I thought I was having a heart attack…I could feel my chest tighten, my heart racing.
But at that point in my life, I had the (very incorrect) belief that I was unstoppable. I was a know-it-all with the attitude that nothing could stop me.
I pushed through the pain for hours, unable to eat or sleep and convincing myself over and over again that I was “fine”. Then, around 11 p.m., I realized that I had to do something…
I made my way down the eight flights of stairs in the apartment building and pushed through the doors to the empty streets of Toronto.
And instantly, I felt a flood of relief. Nobody was around. It was cold and snowy, but still…the fresh air somehow lifted my spirits. And so I discovered one of the simplest but most powerful tactics for de-escalating an anxiety attack…getting out of the house and out into nature.
When you’re in the depths of an anxiety attack, don’t waste your time pacing around your house for hours. Get outside.
Studies have shown that getting outside is one of the most effective cures for anxiety and something as simple as listening to the sounds of nature or looking at a landscape on your computer can help calm the chaos in your mind.
Whether you go for a walk in the park, sit outside on your porch, or carve out a few hours for a long hike up a mountain, get out of your daily environment and into the real world.
Do what works for you, but just do it.
Obviously this isn’t a panacea for anxiety. But it’s an easy yet powerful first step to get you back on the right track.
2. Connect with Someone Who Cares About You
One of the “Catch 22’s” about anxiety is that it causes you to resist human interaction…even thought connecting with another person is one of the most important things you can do to escape from an anxious state.
It’s all too easy to suffer in silence and avoid getting vulnerable with the people in your life (especially when they think so highly of you)…but there’s no shame in asking for help.
I learned the power of connection after checking into the E.R. at the Toronto General Hospital.
My stay began with typical tests and loads of questions. After confessing that I had drunk seven Red Bulls the night before (yeah I know…bad idea), the shocked nurse took my blood pressure, checked my heart rate, and then placed her hand on mine.
That small human connection was what I needed to restore a sense of peace I’d been missing all day. Between that and the doctor informing me that there was nothing wrong with me, the anxiety that had crippled me began to dwindle.
If I could feel so much better just from the simple touch of someone I didn’t even know, imagine how much better you can feel by connecting with someone you know, someone who cares about you.
Don’t lock the doors on the people who can help you, thinking isolation will somehow improve your situation. It won’t.
Reach out to the people you can trust, the people who genuinely care for you.
Tell them what’s going on and ask for help.
I promise, it will help more than you know.
3. Get the Lego Pieces Out of Your Head
I once gifted my business partner, Matt Smith, with a 4,000 piece Lego Death Star for Christmas (something he still claims to “hate” me for to this day).
Just imagine…dumping 4,000 little blocks on the floor and then trying to put them all together until they resemble a planet destroying star ship.
That’s what your brain is like when you’re struggling with anxiety…
All of these random pieces are cluttered in your mind, taking up space and preventing you from achieving the clarity and focus you need to perform.
The key to beating entrepreneurial anxiety is to get the lego pieces out of your head and clearing the clutter from your mind so you can think clearly.
And the easiest way I’ve found to accomplish this is with a daily “Brain Dump”…taking 15-minutes at the end of each day to list out everything that needs to be accomplished.
Whenever you feel anxiety starting to set in…stop.
Pull out a sheet of paper, list out everything contributing to your anxiety, and then set a plan to either accomplish or eliminate it from your schedule.
Your plan won’t happen all at once, but simply knowing exactly what you’re up against and what needs to be done will give you the clarity and peace of mind you need to get centered and banish the anxiety taking over your life.
4. Dive Deep Into the “Why”
When you’ve completed a brain dump, or several, hopefully all the pieces of the puzzle will be sitting right in front of you.
And now it’s time to ask yourself…
WHY did you have an anxiety attack in the first place?
What were the physical, emotional, and professional factors that led to your anxiety and, more importantly, how can you eliminate them in the future?
Were you running on 4 hours of sleep? Overly caffeinated? Doing too much and putting 10 lbs of potatoes into a 5 lbs sack? Suffering in silence without asking for help?
Dig deep into the “why” to figure out the real problem and then…fix it.
My friend Bedros Keullian suffered from an anxiety attack similar to mine because he, like many entrepreneurs, was trying to do it all. He worked night and day, struggled with staff members who made his business more challenging to run and never shared any of this with the people he loved…the people who could actually help him.
He was trying to fit 10 lbs of potatoes into a 5 lbs sack, and one morning, it caught up to him. He felt like he was close to death as he gasped for air, but he decided to drive himself to the hospital…because, well…he’s Bedros.
And guess what? Even after seeing the warning signs, he continued to suffer in silence, hiding his struggles from his family.
At first, Bedros didn’t dig deep into WHY he had had an anxiety attack. He brushed it off and tried to keep up the lifestyle that was hurting him.
I guarantee Bedros wouldn’t be where he is today if he hadn’t finally taken a step back and made the necessary changes to keep anxiety out of his life.
And I can also guarantee that he’d been even more successful if he’d reached out for help sooner.
Don’t wait. Identify the root causes of your anxiety and then do everything in your power to cut them out of your life.
5. Delegate the “Low Hanging Fruit”
Nine times out of ten, anxiety is caused by one thing…trying to do everything by yourself.
If you’ve experienced an anxiety attack, I’m guessing you’re like most entrepreneurs out there who try to run their business, keep employees happy, engage with clients, manage finances, and keep the office clean…all while trying to keep up on their personal life too.
And I can promise you, if you keep this up, and you’ll be on the road to another crippling anxiety attack (which I know you don’t want to happen).
Luckily, there’s an easy solution.
After completing your brain dump, look at the items on your list and ask yourself, “Does this need to be done and if so…does it need to be done by me?”
Chances are, you’ll find at least 5-6 things you do every week that YOU do not need to do.
And the second you identify these tasks, I challenge you to find a way to either automate, eliminate, or delegate them to free up the time and energy you need to perform at your best.
Pay a social media manager to engage with your followers on Instagram.
Hire someone else to cook your meals and clean your house.
Ask if the 15-year-old down the street is interested in mowing your lawn.
Pay an assistant to manage your inbox and your calendar.
Stop letting the small tasks stand in your way of a clear mind. Buy back your time and your well-being by handing off even just a few small things that don’t require your area of genius.
6. Prioritize Recovery
When an anxiety attack strikes because you’ve been doing too much, you can’t expect to keep doing too much and get a different result.
You need time to recover.
You might not feel like you can prioritize the time you need to recharge your batteries and get back to 100%. But if you don’t, you’ll remain stuck on the roller coaster and your anxiety will only get worse.
Instead of returning to your intensive weight-lifting workout right away, try going for a long walk outside. Take a hike with someone who cares about you. Get a massage. Try meditating. And be sure you’re getting enough sleep.
Say “no” to new projects and opportunities. Outsource everything you can. Hack away at the non-essential until you can breathe again.
After you feel like you’re over the initial slump of an anxiety attack, continue making self-care a priority.
And if you don’t feel like you have time for these practices just remember…you don’t have time for another anxiety attack either!
Trust me. Making self-care a priority in your life will pay great dividends.
Moving forward, schedule massages, workouts, lunch with your best friends, etc. in your calendar BEFORE you put a single sales call, meeting, or project down and then protect these routines with your life.
Treat these events the same way you would treat meetings with your top clients. No excuses. Your business and your family deserve to have you performing at your best.
7. Use the Farm Boy “Morning Miracle”
How do you start your day? Do you struggle to get up, and then race around trying to make up for all the times you hit the snooze button?
Or have you already mastered waking up early to get a headstart on your day?
Whether you’ve already got a solid morning routine in place or not, I want you to try something new…
Start by waking up 15-minutes earlier than usual and invest that time into what I call the “Farm Boy Morning Miracle.”
Instead of waking up and engaging in perverse procrastination by meditating, doing yoga, reading, or journaling (all practices I recommend, by the way…just not first thing in the morning)…wake up, drink some water, do a few minutes of exercise to get the blood flowing…
And then attack the #1 thing that’s causing you anxiety.
If it’s a big project, work on it first thing in the morning. If it’s your debt, spend that time to make extra cash.
Whatever it is, work on your MOST crucial task, the one that, when done, will help you kick anxiety to the curb for good.
Plan the night before what first thing in the morning so you can wake up and get to it without wasting any time. The trick is simply to get up and get in motion.
15 minutes isn’t long, but you’ll be amazed at everything you can accomplish in that time and how much better you’ll feel having knocked out at least some of your biggest challenges. Making the most out of the first minutes of your day will give you the momentum you need to own the rest of your day.
8. Ask “Who”
Listen, it’s not enough to ask WHAT needs to be done to help you fix your anxiety…
All the yoga, affirmations, meditation, and body restoring moments won’t be enough. Taking a morning walk or scheduling regular workouts can help, but they aren’t sufficient to keep anxiety at bay for long.
Even getting your most important work done in the morning isn’t enough to eradicate overwhelming stress from your life.
It’s time to humble yourself and realize you CAN’T do it all on your own.
After you’ve done everything you can to keep anxiety at bay, it’s time to ask yourself WHO you need to help you fix this.
Is it a coach to help you fix the leaks in your business? An assistant to delegate the small tasks that are taking up too much time in your day? A new sales rep to handle inbound leads?
Unless you get some sort of outside help, you’ll continue suffering in silence until anxiety strikes again.
9. Get Outside Eyes on Your Life and Business
The single most powerful way to change your life and business is to enlist the help of someone who has “been there, done that” to give you objective outside eyes and hold you accountable to taking new actions.
It might seem counterintuitive that accountability could reduce anxiety…isn’t that just another thing to add to the list?
But here’s the thing…finding someone to whom you are accountable and who has fresh eyes on your business will help you make the changes you need to avoid burnout and anxiety in the future.
When I in the depths of my anxiety…working 12+ hours a day Monday-Friday and then partying until 4 am in the morning on the weekends (the same time I would wake up during the week), my mentor Mark Ford gave me a simple prescription…
…He instructed me to wake up at the same time every day, including weekends, no matter what time I went to bed the night before.
Making this simple change shifted the course of my entire life and reduced my anxiety.
He saw an area I could improve that I wouldn’t have figured out on my own. Those fresh eyes and the accountability gave me the kickstart I needed to head in the right direction.
Hiring a coach or using a mentor to get outside eyes on your business will put you on the fast track to success and do what you need to avoid troubles ahead.
Find someone who you deeply do not want to disappoint. It’s not enough just to have a friend who you can text each day with updates or have your spouse check in with you. You need a coach or a mentor who can get you to the level you need and who you will help you stay on track with a vision-aligned plan.
Taking this step will help you change the way you see yourself. You’ll align your actions with what you truly want. You will make real progress toward your goals. You’ll keep anxiety at bay.
Discover the step-by-step “Anxiety Killer” system to banish your entrepreneurial anxiety for GOOD!
Just click here to get a copy of my book Unstoppable where I’ll teach you the exact strategies and step-by-step systems I used to beat entrepreneurial anxiety and reclaim control of my life.
I promise, if you’ll implement the lessons in this book, you’ll NEVER struggle with anxiety again.