Is it possible to be an executive and not have anxiety?

anxiety and stress business

Everybody has feelings of anxiety at some point in their life. It is an emotion that’s needed for our survival.

For instance, it’s good to have some anxiety if walking near a dog you don’t know. Anxiety arises at times like this to protect us from potential dangers. That’s so we can react if need be as part of our fight-or-flight response.

Anxiety is a sense of worry or unease about something with an outcome that’s not certain. 

That accounts for many things in life.

Some people find their anxiety is so severe and so constant that it drastically affects their day-to-day living.

It can become a vicious circle where being anxious creates more anxiety as if fighting fire with fire.

When it becomes a major problem is when it’s defined in mental health terms as a nervous disorder marked by excessive apprehension, typically with compulsive behavior and/or panic attacks.

Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is a long-term condition diagnosed in people who feel very anxious about a wide range of issues and events. 

Someone with GAD will feel anxious virtually all the time. It becomes their normal state of being.

Executives are generally considered among the most confident and capable people in society, the very qualities that have taken them to the top – but they are certainly still vulnerable to suffering from anxiety.

In fact, they regularly need to make big choices that not only affect themselves but many other people, organizations and businesses.

What emotional and physical symptoms can anxiety cause?

  • Feeling restless, discontent and easily irritable.
  • Difficulty in sleeping.
  • Heart palpitations.
  • Dizziness.
  • Problems with concentration.
  • Panic attacks, finding it difficult to breathe.

The word “anxious” derives from a Latin word meaning “to choke”. Anyone who has ever had a panic attack will directly relate to this.

One reason for executives experiencing anxiety is that many people in these leading positions have to constantly be thinking and looking ahead.

This is such as in order to make preparations and put things in place – for instance, to meet future market predictions. It means much of their focus is on things that might just happen, including worst-case scenarios. It is ripe for creating anxiety.

Is anxiety a choice?

stress and anxiety

Anxiety is not something anyone is choosing, but it is something they are creating. It’s a form of fear, created by the way someone is thinking, and the thoughts they are focusing on.

Experts have concluded that the average adult has 60-80,000 thoughts every day.

Our thoughts are a series of choices, but most people do not realize this and will often focus on just a few and then as with anything you focus on, they grow and get bigger.

This can even reach the point where a set of thoughts seem so big it is as if you are starting to shrink under their looming largeness and dark shadow.

Yet we always have a choice with our thoughts.

As Henry Ford put it:

“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t – you’re right.”

Is it really possible to be an executive and not have anxiety? Or does being a leader always mean there will be a degree of anxiety?

There are definite positive aspects that anyone can bring in to their life in order to alleviate anxiety. 

Learning how to choose the thoughts you focus on is one way.

Then, anxiety is similar to excitement in many ways. They both stimulate a similar biological reaction. So if, for instance, you are an executive about to make a key presentation and find that your heart is racing, you can say to yourself that it’s merely because you’re so excited – that the outcome of your presentation is going to move the business forward in such an excellent way.

Choosing to reduce anxiety levels will usually mean better performance. Consider that making decisions while relaxed and at ease will most often make for more effective choices.

What are some positive things you can do to reduce anxiety?

  • Quit smoking.
  • Meditation, especially after waking and before bedtime.
  • Yoga.
  • Walks in nature, including parks.
  • Cut down on alcohol and caffeine, including coffee, tea and energy drinks.
  • Regular exercise, such as jogging, aerobics, swimming, cycling and tennis. Aim for 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise five times a week.
  • Watch some comedy.
  • Read a book.
  • Write a daily gratitude list: gratitude and anxiety cannot easily coexist, so writing things you’re grateful for – or at least thinking of them – can help immensely.
  • Try to focus on just one day at a time.

Anyone can make great gains from doing such as the above in their lives. Make these the habits rather than the anxiety.


However, it’s not something that can just be instantly snapped out of because anxiety is often as a result of your own experiences and what you’ve learned – especially in your family as you grew up.
So it’s what someone has always known. 

Being an executive, with all its pressures and decision-making, can make it worse. That all takes time to resolve, but it most definitely can be achieved.

Many people ask: can I completely deal with my anxiety on my own? The answer is that dealing with anxiety is most nearly always something someone needs help with from a professional trained in and experienced in dealing with it.

Most people will need someone who can help guide them to realize the general source of their anxiety. Then they can show how best to alleviate it. 

For more details about how we can assist you or anyone you know learn how to deal with anxiety, contact us today.

About Adam Nesenoff

Adam Nesenoff has been working in recovery for over ten years.

Reader Interactions

Leave a comment