Dealing With Anxiety // Polka Dot Tiered Dress + Black Heels
It’s starting to feel like almost everyone these days is suffering from some degree of anxiety, whether it’s just unnecessary worry or full on panic attacks. I’m sure the pressures of living and working in NYC don’t help, but I guess my anxiety would fall somewhere in the middle, sandwiched between my boatload of irrational fears. It’s manageable, but running a business while it feels like a cloud of doom is following me is far from easy.
My anxiety causes me to be pretty irrational. For example, if one of my sponsored posts isn’t doing well on Instagram, I’ll have anxiety that the brand will be upset, that they will never work with me again, that other brands will pass me over as a result, and I will be out of business by the following week. That’s basically my thought process every time I check on the photo. And the worst part… I can’t stop checking. Not being able to pull myself away from the post means I spend less time engaging with my followers, writing more blog posts, and doing what it takes to actually grow my business. It’s a constant struggle.
The problem is that minus going out of business, I’m actually not that far off in that the brand probably won’t work with me again if I don’t deliver the desired results. The issue with letting the anxiety take over though is that rather than work to boost the post’s engagement, I become wrapped up in its failure. Maybe that’s why I’ve become a Ted Talk addict, pulling inspiration and motivation wherever I can to fight my tendency to spiral into self doubt.
But the worry doesn’t start and stop with my Instagram likes. In fact, it doesn’t discriminate on any aspect of my business. I get anxiety about receiving so many emails from brands or not receiving enough, meeting deadlines, figuring out my work schedule for the week, RSVPing to too many events, negotiating campaign offers, planning my content calendar, and even booking photographers, because what if I choose the wrong time or date or person?! My mind is an endless stream of worry from morning to night and if you’re wondering how I can fall asleep with all that stress… well, sometimes I don’t until the exhaustion takes over.
So how do I deal with my anxiety?
I have an incredible husband who calms me down by letting me tell him my daily to-do list and deadline schedule in excruciating detail so we can figure out my work priorities. We’ve been together since my blog was less than a year old, so he understands most of the industry terms and struggles now, which helps a lot. Having a support system is vital, whether it’s a friend, spouse, or family member, but there’s nothing like talking it out.
I write and rewrite my to-do list. It’s a bit time consuming, but writing down even the smallest tasks like, “Email H&M back,” helps me clear my mind. Including the small stuff also means I get to cross out tasks more often which makes me feel more productive. As soon as the list gets messy with strikeouts, I rewrite it and add anything I may have missed.
I put my phone away. While I have a pretty strong work/life balance, I haven’t quite figured out how to manage both at the same time, so when I’m working, I try to concentrate on that completely in order to stay focused and be timely with my deadlines (which are frequent and almost always very tight).
I stay proactive. I’m not sure if it comes with the anxiety or it’s just the way I was wired, but I’m a bit of a control freak, so I do what I can to stay in control of my work schedule. Sometimes that means pushing brands for more time to create content, blocking off certain hours for downtime if I know I’m about to have an insane week, or RSVPing no to events that aren’t near where I’ll be that day. The nature of this industry is very fast paced so it’s not always possible and I’ve been in many situations where I’ve had to wake up at the crack of dawn to shoot a product before work in order to get the photos to the brand by the following day. Knowing that, I do what I can to minimize the amount of juggling I’ll have to do in a given week.
Stop. Watching. Stories. When you’re anxious, there’s nothing worse than looking at other bloggers’ Instagram pages who seem to have it together. It just makes you compare yourself to them and inevitably feel like you’re failing.
I stay productive. The more productive I am, the less anxiety I feel. When I wake up early, start my day with coffee and a Ted Talk, and plug away the entire day, my anxiety is usually at a minimum. If I sleep ‘til noon; however… cue the anxiety.
I take breaks when necessary. Since I have a hard time pulling myself away from a project, I usually run errands on my breaks, walking to the post office, going grocery shopping, or even making returns. I’ll take my time and enjoy the fresh air, but accomplishing something at the same time helps me continue feeling productive, which means less anxiety.
I work at my desk. Before I had a home office, I would work from bed and usually fall back asleep within the first hour, which would have me waking up in a panic that I wasted my day. The couch wasn’t much better. Now that I have a designated work space, I’m able to get into the right state of mind and accomplish more. Keeping my space neat also helps me feel more in control and less anxious.
I focus on the big wins I’ve had as a blogger, which helps alleviate the feeling of doom. Even if I’m having a slow month, I remind myself that business has come my way before and it will come again. Rational self talk is the enemy of anxiety.
I don’t put all my eggs in one basket. This is actually a major issue in the blogging community as so many bloggers rely solely on their Instagram pages to make a living. If their accounts got hacked tomorrow, they would literally be jobless. I definitely make the most of my income through Instagram, but I’m slowly trying to diversify by maintaining my blog, starting a YouTube channel, selling on Poshmark, and freelancing on the side. Tumblr used to be the most popular social platform out there. I don’t know a single person on it anymore, so we’re fools if we believe Instagram will be there forever. While diversifying is hard work and stressful in itself, it gives me security which overrides anxiety every time.
Let me know how you deal with your own anxiety in the comments below.