4 proven habits you can cultivate to deal with fear and anxiety

4 proven habits you can cultivate to deal with fear and anxiety

via FastCompany by Brendan Keegan

Sales, bonuses, negotiations. Promotions, collaborations, performance indicators, and reviews. Uncertainty runs rampant in the workplace, and that’s never been more true than in the wake of a global pandemic that’s affected virtually every business in every industry. Will your new boss like your idea? Why does the temp always seem to be staring at you? Will the WiFi gods smile on your Zoom connection today?

Uncertainty is as much a natural element of life as anything you’ll find on the periodic table. Unfortunately, it has a somewhat less innocent (if not totally evil) twin: fear. You can think about it this way. Uncertainty is simply the reality that accompanies many situations, and it will never go away. Very little in life is certain. Fear and anxiety, on the other hand, you can manage.

Any number of actions and behaviors are capable of putting fear in its place (some healthier than others). A useful heuristic can be built around the old adage “prevention is the best medicine.” In this context, it means proactively increasing your mental fortitude and building a resistance to the potential negative effects of uncertainty. Here are four science-backed building blocks for doing exactly that.


Sleep is known to influence many aspects of our bodily systems. Available research suggests it also seems to have a big impact on how we interpret uncertainty, in the sense that sleep is a natural anxiety relief medication. Matthew Walker, a neuroscience professor at UC Berkeley and author of Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams. describes it like this: “Without sleep, it’s almost as if the brain is too heavy on the emotional accelerator pedal, without enough brake.”

This is all too accurate, as most of us know intuitively. But Walker’s research has found that subjects’ anxiety levels decreased dramatically following a full night of sleep. Other evidence corroborates this. Brain scans show that the medial prefrontal cortex, a region of the brain understood to regulate fear and anxiety, is recharged by nightly rest (and without it, shuts down)…

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