August 24, 2021

<thrive_headline click tho-post-1002841 tho-test-4020>Build Skills: How to Manage Learning Anxiety</thrive_headline>


When Building New Skills, Expect & Manage Your Discomfort.

Today, I will show you how to recognize and manage anxiety caused by learning curve discomfort.

Most people have a skill they need to learn but put it off because of learning curve discomfort. However, if left unchecked, learning curve anxiety can prevent you from growing personally or neglecting business priorities once procrastination takes hold.

We know that delays in a business can be costly. However, competition in the marketplace is fierce. And time and opportunities wait for no one. So it stands to reason that the sooner we can remove the obstacles that hold us back, the sooner we get to where we need to go. 

If learning curve anxiety is holding you back, read on to find out how you free yourself and get on with getting the important work done.

Once you learn how anxiety shows up in your body, you can manage it out of your system as the imposter it is. 

In this article, I’ll teach you how to prepare yourself for learning and manage anxiety as it arises. My goal is to help you persevere, enjoy learning and build confidence in the process.

What is Learning Discomfort or Anxiety?

learning anxiety

Learning discomfort is the anxiety you feel when working on something outside of your comfort zone. It often stems from unfounded statements we make about ourselves, such as, “I’m terrible at anything I.T. related, so I might as well not even try,” or a lack of self-confidence. However, it can show up in the body to tighten the throat, stomach, shoulders, shortness of breath, etc. Because each person’s experience is different, it’s vital to understand how your body reacts to manage your anxiety when it shows up.

To provide a helpful context, I will use a recent experience of mine. Let my example help you identify your reaction to learning discomfort and know how to manage it early.

Making Cheese Biscuits -Where did my anxiety go?

I put together a batch of cheese biscuits on the weekend when I noticed how easy the process was after making it many times over the last several years.

The recipe calls for cutting a block of cream cheese into oatmeal-sized pieces in the dry ingredients. Instead, I found myself humming along to the time-consuming process, whereby I periodically scrape off big clumps of cream cheese and keep going. I held the cutting knife at a perfect angle so that the dry ingredients mixed readily.

I recalled how this process of cream cheese buildup on the blade made me short of breath (anxiety) and tightened my throat. I was surprised that I no longer felt this way. I was enjoying the process and was in a state of flow.

Application Potential

The experience led me to consider the anxiety I was having and putting off regarding new software. I realized that I could apply the principles of what I learned from making cheese biscuits to managing my further learning curve discomfort. The basic principles I learned are as follows.

How to Manage Learning Curve Discomfort

  • Learning discomfort or anxiety is normal and should be expected. 
  • Identify how learning discomfort shows up in your body, e.g. shortness of breath, tightening of the throat. Call it out when it arises.

  • Breathe slow, smooth breaths through the anxiety, and keep working.

  • Keep focused on the benefits of the goal, e.g. delicious cheese biscuits to go with homemade soup!

Now, It’s Your Turn-

Recall a recent skill you acquired. When you were still learning, how did the discomfort show up in your body? Name it.

Next, recall the pivotal moment when you overcame thinking and just started doing it (flow).

Apply What you Learned To What You Need to Learn Now. 

Writing Exercise- Answer the following

  • What is the new skill you need to learn?
  • Why is it essential to learn and become proficient?
  • How will you feel if you achieve it? 
  • What will happen if you don’t do it?

Book Uninterrupted Learning Time - 90 Minutes

Book a recurring time slot of uninterrupted 90 minutes to develop the essential skills you need. Turn off your phone, all other notifications and let others know you are unavailable during this time.

Prepare a clean environment free of all distractions. You may include a small glass of water.

When the time comes, do the work. Your only other option is to stare at a blank screen during the 90 minutes. 

How to Prepare for Effective Learning

step 1

Manage Expectations

Assure yourself that learning discomfort is normal and to be expected. 

step 2

Be Aware of What's Going On

Be aware of bodily responses. Then, call it out when it happens. 

step 3

Breathe Through Discomfort While You Work.

Breathe slowly and smoothly while you keep working.

step 4

Stay Focused on the Goal & Enjoy the Process!

Stay focused on the benefits of your goal. Get excited with each incremental progress. Enjoy the journey.

Accept that Learning is a Process.

When you focus on committing to the process rather than the outcome, you are less discouraged if it takes longer than expected. You will improve; focus on the process, and it will come. You are honing your ability to learn.

Learning Curve Anxiety is Normal and Manageable. So Don't Let It Hold You Back!

Thanks to “How to Manage Learning Curve Anxiety Guide,” there is no need to put off over learning new skills anymore. You have everything you need to tackle anything new without delay and end behaviors that prevent you from moving forward and getting important work done.

As you found in this guide, knowing how to manage learning anxiety with ease means you’ll have more time to focus on activities that bring you the results you need.

Be sure you let me know what you think of “How to Manage Learning Curve Anxiety.” Please leave a comment below.

P.S. To get my Cheese Biscuit Recipe used in my example, click below.


learning curve, procrastination, self discipline, skills building

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Linda Reddin

About the author

Linda Reddin, CEC, PCC, founder of A Strategic Edge Coaching in Kamloops, BC, helps managers and leaders become excellent communicators and inspiring leaders of successful enterprises. In her free time, Linda enjoys cooking healthy dishes, exploring nature, reading, music, teaching and practicing yoga.

Linda Reddin

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