November 10th, 2008
When you think about your “most valuable asset” what comes to mind?
Is it your Job?
Is it your house?
Is it your stock portfolio?
How about the people who love you?
All of those things are valuable (some, more than others – I hope!), but are they the most valuable?
Well, let me put it another way… if you ceased to exist, would any of these assets have any value to you at all?
Think about it… you, are your most valuable asset because without you none of it matters.
So, how do you protect you, and prevent your most valuable asset from depreciating?
- Practice stress reduction techniques like meditation and deep breathing in order to tame your anxiety and its effects on you and your environment.
- Make sure you’re getting enough rest, and that you’re making time for leisure activities with family and friends.
- Exercise, Exercise, Exercise and make sure that you’re feeding your metabolism delicious and nutritious meals full of macro and micro nutrients so that you’re energized all day long.
Focus on what you can control - YOU!
And that way you can really enjoy your other assets.
Related Article: How to Quell Financial Anxiety
Q. Day after day of economic turmoil is making it hard for you to concentrate on your work. You can’t stop worrying about your job security, your retirement portfolio and your whole future. Is this normal?
A. It’s only natural to feel anxious during a financial crisis. But understand that anxiety can distort reality, disrupt thinking and erode performance — unless you take steps to manage it.
“Our minds are trying to protect us by bringing up things we should worry about,” said Margaret Wehrenberg, a clinical psychologist in Naperville, Ill., and co-author of “The Anxious Brain.” Too easily, though, these negative thoughts can crowd out all others as they replay in an endless loop inside the brain.
“Right now, the whole United States is a little uptight,” Dr. Wehrenberg said. But the feeling is worse for people “who tend to ruminate a lot anyway and have a hard time turning off those worried thoughts,” she said.
Psychologists distinguish between fear, which has a specific cause, and anxiety, which may not. “One of the things that makes anxiety so debilitating is that you can’t entirely put your finger on it,” said Sigal G. Barsade, associate management professor at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and an expert on group psychology.
Q. How can anxiety affect people’s work?
A. Anxiety creates cognitive distortion and can make it harder for people to concentrate and to process information, said Myra S. White, a clinical instructor at Harvard Medical School who focuses on workplace performance. Their decision-making is impaired, and they are more likely to make mistakes, she said. Because they can’t listen as well, they may need to have instructions repeated to them several times. They may also have shorter fuses and become more impatient.
“Anxiety is living in the past or the future; it’s not living in the moment,” Dr. Wehrenberg said, so the work in front of you is bound to suffer.
Q. Can your co-workers have an effect on your anxiety level?
A. It is very easy to “catch” anxiety through a process known as emotional contagion, Professor Barsade said. Densely populated workplaces, she said, are particularly vulnerable to this phenomenon.
So if one of your colleagues is moaning that her portfolio has fallen 40 percent and that she will never be able to retire, or another is ranting that your company is sure to go under, be aware that you could “catch” their emotions almost as if they were colds.
“Stay open to both positive and negative emotion,” Professor Barsade said. The key to absorbing negative emotions is “to take them in but not let them take over,” she said.
Professor Barsade said anxiety might be worsening the financial crisis. A kind of collective anxiety — in part emerging in the workplace — could cause people to take overly drastic actions with their money, which could hurt the economy, she said.
Managers need to be aware that their employees are feeling anxious now, Professor Barsade said. They should let employees express their anxiety — and should discuss and clarify the company’s situation honestly.
Q. Are there physical aspects to anxiety?
A. “Anxiety can wreak havoc on the body,” said Dr. White, who has a doctorate in psychology. Physical symptoms, she said, can include a pounding heart, sweaty hands, headaches and indigestion. Anxious people tend to hold their breath and take shallow breaths, she said, so work on taking deep breaths, especially when you exhale.
Yoga, meditation, exercising or simply taking a walk can help dispel symptoms, Dr. White said.
“Any time you’re really stuck in your mind, moving your body helps shift it,” Dr. Wehrenberg said.
Q. What else can you do to tame anxiety?
A. Ms. Wehrenberg recommends this strategy: worry once and do it well.
In other words, if you’re going to fret, be systematic about it and get it over with. If you’re concerned about your finances, for example, meet with a financial planner and decide what steps to take to protect assets as best you can. If you’re worried about losing a job, update your résumé and lay all the other initial groundwork for a job search. Then focus on the job you still have; that is something you can control, as opposed to some horrific future scenario that may never occur.
If you start to feel anxious about your job or your finances, remind yourself that you have a plan and that you have done everything you can do at this time, Dr. Wehrenberg said. Say to yourself, “Stop, I already worried,” then pull yourself back to your work, she said.
“Think about what you’ve got in the now. Today you’re O.K.,” she said. “Focus on what you have instead of what you don’t have.”
She says she has patients who feel that they aren’t allowed to enjoy themselves because of the economy. “It’s not going to ruin your portfolio if you play or go out with friends,” she said.
But if you feel overwhelmed by anxiety to the point that you can’t finish your tasks or are having destructive thoughts or abusing drugs or alcohol, you should seek professional help, she said.
By Phyllis Korkki
The New York Times