How to Master Your Mind and Manage Workplace Anxiety 

Do you ever have the impression that you cannot master your powerful and creative mind? Does it feel like the world around you is getting faster and more challenging to keep up? Leaving you feeling exhausted at the end of each day or week? Then, you are not alone. According to scientific research, you process an average of 74 GB of information daily, which equals watching 16 movies and increasing by 5% yearly. This may be leaving you in a state of being mentally overwhelmed. 

We process an average of 74 GB of information daily, which equals watching 16 movies and increasing by 5% yearly

Professors Roger Bohn and James Short, University of California

There is more under the surface than we care to admit—anxiety is on the rise 

According to data from Gallup’s State of the Global Workplace report, anxiety and stress in employees around the world have yet to decrease to pre-pandemic levels. On the contrary, people are reportedly experiencing increasingly more workplace tension than in the first year of the pandemic, resulting in 44% of employees feeling stressed daily while working. For some people, extra-long work hours, high stress, a lack of support from managers and co-workers, and related factors can lead to developing anxiety at work.  

According to Andrew Dunne, depression and anxiety are now the most prevalent psychological and emotional troubles faced in the workplace. One in five workers report poor mental health. The knock-on cost to the economy through lost productivity and absenteeism is eyewatering. According to World Health Organization global estimates, $1 trillion (around €940 billion) in workplace productivity is lost each year because of depression and anxiety. 

What causes anxiety and stress for you and your employees? 

Have you ever found yourself in a position where something went wrong at work, and you ended up with a deluge of negative thoughts? Especially in a professional setting, this can be debilitating and a serious roadblock to our productivity, decision-making skills, and development.  

Here are a few examples of different causes for stress in employees and leaders: 


  • A sense of not belonging
  • Receive or anticipate negative feedback from your manager or peer 
  • Fear of making a mistake or looking bad 
  • Go outside your comfort zone to deliver on a new project or develop a new skill. 


  • Fire an employee due to downsizing or low performance 
  • Manage too many priorities and not wanting to overload your staff 
  • Miss financial or business targets 
  • Know a big transformation is coming and not being able to communicate it fully.

The mind can make or break you 

There are, of course, many things we can do to improve our physical and emotional well-being. Meditation and exercise immediately come to mind. One of the critical factors associated with anxiety and stress is the mind not working for us but against us. According to Alice Boyes in her HBR article, What Anxiety Does to Us at Work when anxiety is present, we can: 

  • Misjudge the view others have of ourselves and think others dislike us or view us as less talented 
  • Become defensive about feedback and see it as an indicator we are doomed to fail 
  • Avoid situations that result in us being perceived as difficult 
  • React negatively when presented with unexpected ideas 

Master your Mind so it Works for You 

If kept unchecked, our mind is like a film loop repeating itself. Typically, not in a positive way. Instead, let’s get our minds working for us and unleash our true potential rather than depleting our power or impact. Here are two techniques to master your mind. 

Reframing: How to master the dark side of the mind 

Dealing with the negative voices in our heads can be difficult, yet it’s an essential skill. In this next section, let’s look at some concrete steps we can take to be in control of our minds, and to calm down thoughts and stimuli.  

If you get overwhelmed by anxiety, it can be helpful to change your perspective, test your truth, and practice self-compassion. These methods will be explained further in the following paragraphs.  

One way of doing this is to switch your point of view by reframing: 


  • Step 1: Identify the thought or situation that is causing you anxiety. 
  • Step 2: Shift your perspective by asking: How can I view this differently? What benefits or opportunities are being presented in this situation? 
  • Step 3: Determine which action you will take to move forward. 

Going through these steps gets you to consider the problem in a more rational way and stops the negative spiral. This allows you to calm down and focus your mind on other things actively, which can be a helpful step towards mastering your thoughts and feeling more in control.  

Personally, I find this method incredibly helpful because it forces you to stop and take a step outside of your mind. Even if it doesn’t eliminate the negative voice entirely, it interrupts the loud negative chatter. And once we are in a calmer state of mind, we can think about the situation more objectively. Reframing thoughts in this way can make them lose their power. 

Test Your Truth 

Another good tactic is to approach your thoughts from the perspective of an unbiased academic. We believe our thoughts to be true without questioning them. When your thoughts seem to diminish you or get in the way of your success, look at them more closely and consider what proof you have of their accuracy. Stop and interrupt your thought patterns and explore if there is any evidence for it.  

The Impact of self-talk and the stories we weave 

Our view of ourselves drives our self-image and self-confidence. This view is reinforced by our inner dialogue and the stories we tell ourselves and others about our life experiences.  

When we catch ourselves in negative self-talk, it can be helpful to consider what triggered the thought, as explained above. What happened, and how does it relate to how you think about yourself? But it is also important to be compassionate with yourself. For instance, if the voice in your head says, “I’m such a failure, I can’t get anything right”, imagine you were a friend or family member in the same situation. Would you tell them that they’re a failure? Or would you meet them with compassion and empathy?  

Even not being able to change the way we think about the situation, we can always practice self-compassion. We may not always be able to control the content of our mind, but we can control which thoughts we pay attention to and give power over us. And we can also learn to be kind to ourselves. 

Lisa Danels, the author of The Human Edge Advantage: Mastering the Art of Being All In, states, when we observe our thoughts without judgment, just in the process of observing them, the false self falls away, and the true self emerges. 

Master your Mind and Detach from your thoughts 

Our mind is a magnificent tool if we get it to work for us. It can bring our dreams into reality and help us communicate with impact and power. There is a misconception that our mind is the central control center and is the driver’s seat. An illusion forms and we believe we are our minds and all that we think about. This can trap us and convince us that we are our negative thoughts or repetitive thoughts. It can alsolead to a sense of disconnect from our goals and life. Making the negative chatter a part of our identity or personality/internalizing the negative chatter hinders our growth potential. Beliefs such as: 

  • I am just a pessimistic person 
  • I am not good enough 
  • I’ve never be as good as…. 
  • It’s hard for me to learn 

can be problematic if we start to consider them as facts about ourselves that we cannot change.  

If we want to master our minds, we need to create an awareness that we are not our minds and we can choose what to think about. It’s important to understand the nature of the human mind. According to the National Science Foundation, humans have somewhere between 12,000 and 60,000 thoughts per day. Our mind produces a lot of noise every moment we’re awake. And because our brains are wired towards negativity, as much as 80% of that noise tends to be negative. And 95% of the thoughts are repetitive.  

How to master your mind

Lisa Danels describes the mind as “a playground of thoughts that shape how we live and operate” and “an empty container in which we produce our thoughts and identify the thoughts that will receive attention and focus.” Thus, the goal is to view the mind as a tool. Limiting beliefs formed by negative thoughts need to be dismantled. What we pay attention to and what we focus on is something we can control. When it comes to the workplace, it is especially helpful to master your mind, so it works for you, not against you.  

Mastering your mind is an incredible tool to have at your disposal, not only in professional settings but in life in general.  

Tips for Mastering the Mind 

  • Be the Observer of the Observer – Watch your mind like you watch a movie—see what you think about and what stories you believe about yourself. 
  • Quiet your mind – Go for a walk-in nature, get into the zone while running, or learn to meditate. You know you’ve achieved success when the mind is quiet. 
  • Self-compassion – practice self-compassion and know if you fail or fall, you do your best given the situation. 


Mastering your mind gives you more self-confidence and personal power. It’s an investment worth making. It will allow you to be a better leader or professional and improve your relationships as you engage in curiosity and exploration rather than getting stuck in your mind’s limiting beliefs. Not only are there external benefits, but you will find you will achieve a level of equanimity that will curb your anxiety and squelch your fear, allowing you to step fully into your personal power. 

Unlock the greatest version of yourself and your organization