Often we hide our anxiety in the workplace in fear of being judged or looking weak. But not only are we not alone in our struggles with anxiety, we can use it as our superpower to professional and personal success. Advocate and lifestyle coach Julian Brass has sparked a movement with this groundbreaking and positive way of thinking in his upcoming book Own Your Anxiety. Brass asserts that by taking back our anxiety, we also can also take back our career and our lives. Below, Brass offers advice for harnessing anxiety to achieve success in our personal and professional lives.
People often want to hide their anxiety out of shame. How do we become more open with others (coworkers, family, friends) about our anxieties?
This is a really important question and it requires a thoughtful answer. How we open up about anxiety at work is generally different from how we talk to our loved ones and friends about it. Unfortunately there is still a lot of stigma around work when it comes to things like anxiety and depression. Generally compartmentalization is therefore a suggested practice at work since the reality is that work requires us to show up as our professional selves which means not sharing all of our personal business with others at the office. When I was in the corporate world, I wouldn’t go into a major presentation telling everyone that I was feeling anxious, instead before the presentation I would own my anxiety and channel all of that nervous, negative energy into my edge. I suggest you train yourself by seeking the tools to do the same, then there is no need to talk about it with coworkers AND if you do, you come at it from a place of abundance rather than scarcity and desperation. If you’re looking for help, don’t worry! There are so many places out there to help you lean in to your anxiety and own it. I think better than telling everyone at work that you’re working on your anxiety, do the work and let your positive output and actions speak your strength. Obviously every work environment is different so get to know yours so you don’t say or do something that could unfortunately lead to more anxiety.
When it comes to friends and family I believe that authentic communication is everything. We grow when we share. Lean in to it and love yourself for being you.
What are some tricks for embracing anxiety instead of trying to deny that it exists?
One key trick is to approach it with love. Love yourself. You’re not perfect, neither am I but we both do deserve boundless love. We’re capable of it too. From a place of love I invite you to lean in to your anxiety. First, ask yourself, ‘Where is my anxiety coming from?’ Authentically dive in and ask this life-enhancing question. Be a detective and get to the source. Love yourself and practice forgiveness for yourself as you do. Next please educate yourself. Education on understanding thing that can create or reduce anxiety is everything for us people who feel that anxious energy frequently. This is why I’ve dedicated the past several years to writing a book that is simple to understand and offers an easy read full of tools that are ready to be incorporated into our lives immediately
How can we use anxiety to our advantage both in our careers and personal lives?
If we back up for a moment and look at anxiety for what it is: a force of natural energy that we often internalize as negative and uncomfortable we then open up the conversation for shifting how we look at it. Since mindset is key to everything in our lives, from a more open mind now we can create a new understanding. I believe that anxiety is our edge. And that if managed or what I like to call ‘Owned’ it can be a natural force of positive energy that we can direct to any part of our lives that we care about – career, relationships, commitments, health, wellness, spirituality, you name it! It becomes our morning and afternoon coffee with no caffeine crash. Take that energy and let it light you up.
Are there any small steps we can take each day to help improve our mental and physical well-being?
1) Nose-to-Belly (NTB) Breathing – consciously breathe from your nose to your belly for 3-4 seconds, pause for 1-2 seconds, and exhale for 3-4 seconds, pause for 1-2, and do it again … this slows down anxious feelings and activates our ‘relaxation response’.
2) Gratitude is arguably the most powerful way to change how we feel, look at the world, and ourselves in real time. Incorporate a daily practice of gratitude into your life right away, it will do wonders. Ideally first thing in the morning.
3) Smile even when you don’t feel like smiling! There has been a lot of science come out over the years suggesting that anxious feelings will be reduced when we smile AND that it’s great for our mental health. It releases endorphins and dopamine making us happier; I find it’s a lot harder to be anxious when I’m feeling happy.
Can you offer some tips on bringing gratitude, serenity and self-love into our lives?
Absolutely, great question! Start your day off writing down 5-10 things that you’re grateful for each morning. Additionally create a new habit that when you do something you frequently do, like see 11:11 on a clock, put your hand on a door handle, ride an elevator, swallow a sip of a drink or take a bite of food you pause for a moment and give gratitude for something.
This will help bring serenity into your day to day life. So will simply taking a deep NTB Breath (nose-to-belly), briefly closing your eyes and just saying “Thank you”.
With self-love, I really vibe off of the idea of intentionally adding a bold practice of self love into my life every day. Key! Some things that you might like include choosing to practice yoga, exercise, make 1 healthy food choice, saying to yourself internally ‘I love you’, taking a walk outside, getting a massage (or giving your own hand one), and just about anything else that is good for you and makes you feel good. While you do these things I invite you to consciously remind yourself why you are doing this thing or things – it is a full on gesture of showing love for yourself. I love affirmations too, what about saying to yourself before or during doing one of these self-love ideas “I’m doing this because I love me”. And you truly do deserve all of this love.
BRASS is the founder and former CEO of award-winning Canadian media company Notable.ca (Notable Life), a front-running online brand dedicated to driven young professionals. His first battle with anxiety began when starting a new endeavor that dramatically affected his life professionally, personally and geographically, which fueled his passion to embrace his mental health challenges rather than hide behind it. On an ever-expanding journey of exploring natural lifestyles such as holistic health and wellness, spirituality, yoga, and positive psychology, Brass has trained and collaborated with yogis from India, rabbis and priests in Jerusalem, top medical doctors in NYC, and some of the most successful entrepreneurs in the world. As an international keynote speaker, workshop facilitator, coach, teacher, and healer, he aims to leave every person he connects with ready to own not just anxiety, but to truly own their lives. Learn more about Brass on his website, and connect on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.