How to Use Your Stress and Anxiety for Your Greater Good

Feb 26, 2019
If there are three feelings that doctors and their practice members, know well, they’re stress, anxiety, and overwhelm. We not only are prone to these but also care for many practice members battling these emotions and their consequences all the time. Learning to manage our stress level is vital for success.
What if, instead of trying to manage them, we lean INTO them and learn how to use them for the greater good of our practice and our personal lives?
Yes, these traditionally “negative” emotions can be used to boost your life and practice. Learning to see them as gifts rather than burdens can be tricky, but once you do, you can utilize them to minimize your struggles.
Be Curious
For me, what this all boils down to is curiosity. Rather than trying to ignore or numb stress, I believe that you need to be curious about what it means. I once had a teacher who told me, “Something will never go away until it has taught us what we need to learn.” Looking at it from this perspective, stress, anxiety, and overwhelm are teachers whose lessons can completely revolutionize the way we approach our lives.
Are you feeling like this because of something real? Is this a reaction to something? Could it be a habit or a learned behavior? Asking these questions will help you discover the why behind your overwhelm and your curiosity will lead you to the answers and lessons you need.
That Little Voice
Everyone has that little voice in their head. You know the one! It whispers all of your anxieties in your ear, often making you doubt yourself. That little voice can be almost impossible to silence, and attempts to do so can result in it getting louder. So don’t try to ignore it. Instead, ask yourself what that little voice really means. If it tells you that you’re anxious about something, ask it why? What’s the next step?
Take Care of Yourself First
Is your stress and anxiety die to lack of self care? This is especially true for women who, generally, take care of others before they take care of themselves.
If you want to be at your best, you need to care for yourself before you care for others. Maybe you need to take a couple of long, deep breaths before seeing your next patient. Or maybe meditate to find your center. Stop worrying about the past or future and instead start focusing on the now. We can quickly become stressed when we aren’t in the present moment.
Boundaries and Standards
By leaning into your stress, you might start to question your current boundaries and standards. When we weaken, or even violate, our personal and professional boundaries, it can cause us great stress. It’s the same with our standards. They need to be clear. When they are too high or too low, stress can follow. All of these feelings can act as an early warning system that something is wrong and it might be time to reevaluate your boundaries and standards.
Honor the Differences
Conflict can be stressful. Asking what specifically this conflict about and why you feel so overwhelmed by these conflicts can lead you to more closely examining the differences you have with others.
Whether it is with your partner, your teammate, or your best friend, a difference of opinion can be a massive source of stress. To better manage this feeling, we need to learn to honor ourselves and our differences, just like we have to honor their differences. I mean, we would all be bored out of our mind if everyone was the same!
Multitasking is Not Your Friend
Feeling stress and anxiety can be a sign that we need to stop multitasking. There is this idea out there that we can do it all and, because of that, we try to do twenty things at the same time. Now, I’m not talking about listening to a podcast while you’re working out. I’m talking about lack of present time consciousness and focus. Distraction is your enemy. You can’t be successful if you are constantly distracted.
By stopping multitasking, learning the art of present time consciousness, and the superpower of focus you will decrease stress. We can spin a ton of plates, absolutely, but maybe not at the same time!
Burned Out
Burnout is an epidemic and something that can be almost shameful to admit, even to yourself. If you’re feeling stress, anxiety, and overwhelm, it might be worth asking yourself if you’re experiencing burnout. If so, there are a number of things that you can to do help.
When was the last time you got an adjustment? Went on an adventure? Or even just sat down to breathe for a few minutes? As I said above, you need to take care of yourself before you can take care of others. If you are experiencing burnout, you need to get help, put yourself first, connect to what nurtures you, brings you joy and feeds your passions. The bigger your dream the more support you need.
Build New Systems
If I didn’t have well-functioning systems in my life, I think I would lose my mind.
If you can’t seem to get traction and business is on a downward trend, this obviously can cause a lot of stress! If that is the case, you may need to pay closer attention to your systems. By using effective systems at work and home, things will be able to take care of themselves without you always having to worry about them. Once you have things under control again, you will feel much better!
What’s in a Name?
Names have remarkable power. When you name something, you put a set of values and power on it. For example, imagine telling yourself that what you feel right now is anxiousness. Your heart rate is up; you’re sweating; you might even be a little dizzy. Those are all signs of being anxious, right? Yes, but that’s just because you’ve decided to name it as such. What if you called it something else instead? Something like…. excited?
Athletes do this all the time in interviews. A journalist will ask them if they feel anxious or nervous and they will respond, “Nah, I feel excited!” The physical signs are the same: elevated heart rate, sweat, and butterflies. The difference between anxious and excited can boil down to the word you use to describe it. So, the next time you believe you are feeling anxious about something, maybe rename it instead. You aren’t stressed; you’re excited!
Return of the Little Voice!
If someone, had the nerve and said to you what that little anxious voice in your head says, you’d probably want to smack them. But here is the thing, that little voice? It’s you. Whatever you say to yourself in your head becomes reality. Your self-talk is what you create in your life. That’s why you need to be careful about what you name, claim, and say.
It can sometimes help to get that little voice out of your head by journaling. I find this very useful, especially at times when I feel anxious. Getting all of those feelings down on paper can be an effective way to harness them and take control. Asking, is this true, is a powerful strategy to decrease anxiety.
Don’t Forget to Laugh!
More than anything, I want you to remember these three words: live, love, laugh. Find a way to love yourself, love others, and laugh like crazy.
In the End…
It’s important to remember that you have multiple resources to decrease, avoid and manage and use stress, anxiety, and overwhelm.
To discover how to harness these feelings for the greater good, remember to chunk it down, ask what they mean, look for the gift and silver lining, figure out your next step, and never let it be the boss of you. And finally, we all feel stress, anxiety, and overwhelm. So please remember, you’re never alone!

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