How to overcome Anxiety and gain confidence as a business owner
Guest Post by Kathryn Marr of Blue Ivory Creative
I’ve always been a perfectionist. When I was a kid, my parents pushed me to be the best that I could be, and I took that challenge seriously! I would sacrifice time with friends to perfect my math homework or practice flute.
But somewhere around adulthood, that perfectionism shifted to anxiety. I began to worry – What if I wasn’t good enough? Why was it taking so long for someone to respond to a text message? Could that normal, friendly statement I just made somehow offend someone?
You see, anxiety grows. It’s a seed that embeds itself in your mind, and stretches its roots out to all of your thoughts. And soon, you can’t think of anything else but that one little thing that you’re worried about.
My husband and I started our digital marketing company in 2013. It’s something that I’m incredibly proud of, but of course, anxiety likes to butt its head in whenever it has a chance. There are endless opportunities such as waiting for feedback on a website design from a client or responding to that feedback. And, handling any of the stresses and concerns that naturally come up when you own your own business.
But I’ve learned and grown a lot over the last four years, and I’d like to share with you the top 5 things that I’ve come to know. I truly believe these will be helpful to you whether you struggle with anxiety, or just get stressed once in a while!
1. Set valuable boundaries to avoid stress and worry
This was (and sometimes still is) one of the biggest things that I struggled with. It’s easy as small business owners to feel as though we need to be on the clock all the time. And I’ve certainly felt that if I wasn’t, I would be letting down clients.
But the truth is, if we’re on the clock all the time, we’ll become stressed, anxious, and burned out. It’s reasonable and healthy to set appropriate boundaries, even (and especially!) when you own your own business.
For example, I set specific hours that I work, and after a certain time, I turn off my business number, and close my email. While it can be tempting to check voicemail or email after I’m done working, sticking to my boundaries allows me to rest and have precious family time.
Make sure to take some weekend time off for yourself, and take occasional vacations. Email auto responders are an easy way to keep clients informed without having to respond to each one during your time off.
2. Create a “safe space” that you can use if you’re hit with anxiety
Find an activity that you love to do, that is relaxing and can take your mind off of things if you feel as though anxiety is taking over. This could be a favorite show, an adult coloring book, or the latest novel you’ve been dying to read.
And if you’re not in a position to be able to do any of those things, take a few moments to focus on something relaxing and peaceful. The beach, a mountain getaway, a treehouse in the middle of nowhere. Close your eyes, take deep breaths, and imagine that you’re there, with all of your favorite things around you. This is an excellent way to calm your mind and your thoughts.
3. Make a list of things you’ve accomplished
If I ever feel anxiety related to my self-confidence or accomplishments, I’ll sit down and make a list of the things that I’ve done. The clients I’m working with, the amount that my business has grown, even the places that I’ve been able to travel.
Sometimes it’s just necessary to remind yourself of all of the blessings that you have and that things that you’ve been able to accomplish. It’s so easy to forget everything in the heat of the moment! Keeping a list in the drawer of your bedside table or desk allows you to pull that out whenever you’re anxious. It’s great as a quick pick-me-up and confidence boost.
4. Find a great accountability partner
Finding someone to hold you accountable is one of the most important things you can do as a business owner, especially if you have anxiety. I always recommend that you find someone who’s in a life place that you want to be in, so they can help guide you towards that same place.
Choose someone that fits well with your personality. For example, I need an accountability partner that is encouraging, rather than one that might push me too hard (I do that enough to myself!). You might need someone a little different.
But I know you’ll find that having someone to celebrate successes with you, walk you through situations that you’re unsure about, and provide a gentle reminder when you get off track is a huge help.
5. Remember that your value isn’t determined by your success
You’re not important or valuable because of the things that you do, the people that you please or the money that you make. You’re valuable just because you’re you.
Now, that may sound cliché, but it’s true. So responding to that email tomorrow morning instead of tonight isn’t going to make you less valuable. Taking a few days off once in a while isn’t going to make you less valuable. Even if someone’s unhappy with you, that doesn’t change your value.
Remembering this during your most anxious times can help you gain perspective and keep in mind what’s really important.
Honestly, these all come down to one common thing: be willing to give yourself a break. You can’t be perfect, and you can’t please everyone, no matter how much you want to or how much you try.
So take a day for yourself once in a while, take a few moments when you’re stressed, and remember that you’re valuable. Trust me – these tips can make a big difference!
Our Confident Life Contributor
Kathryn Marr is the co-founder and Chief Creative Officer of Blue Ivory Creative, a digital marketing company based out of Nashville, TN. A graphic and web designer, as well as social media manager, she brings a passion for entrepreneurship and creativity to the table. Kathryn loves helping people pursue their dreams and be successful doing what they love to do.