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Published on June 27, 2018

7 Tips for Dealing With Anxiety While On the Job

7 Tips for Dealing With Anxiety While On the Job

Many people develop Anxiety Disorders as result of stressful work conditions. Toxic work environments or stressful tasks can create chronic stress and cause long-term physical and mental health issues for people. Anxiety on the job is a reality that we all face.

These seven tips will help you to be more empowered and proactive about managing the stress and anxiety you face on the job and in your life.

Check out these stress-free strategies to stay in control of anxiety while at work.

How to Conquer Anxiety on the Job

1. Get A “Life Wellness Plan”

Without a “life wellness plan” your chances of dealing with anxiety on the job are pretty much zero.

Your personal life wellness plan is the foundation from which you build and maintain both your physical and mental strength. A wellness plan strengthens your resilience, which is key to you successfully managing the disruptive and stressful situations in work and personal life.

How you manage your physical and mental wellbeing is entirely up to you. Work out what physical activities you enjoy, then commit to doing them on a regular basis.

Social interaction is also important to your mental wellbeing and it takes effort and commitment to sustain positive healthy relationships in your life. Put in the time to be involved and engaged in the positive aspects of your life. These relationships will be key to helping you get through the tough times in your work and personal life.

2. Take Action Early

“Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.” – Dale Carnegie

The more resilient you are, the more in tune you will be to things that are not right in your life. Anxiety and stress builds up over time. Your body and your intuition will let your know at the start of a “toxic” situation that it is not right. The key thing for you to do is to recognize the warning signs early and take action.

Taking action right at the start is the best way to ensure that anxiety and stress will not take over your life.

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Taking no action results in you dealing with anxiety that will flow into your personal life and eventually paralyse you.

I know from my own experiences that taking action straight away is not always that easy to do. After one of many bad experiences with a toxic manager, I suffered an anxiety attack while driving home. It really frightened me, and I decided that I had enough. I needed to get control back into my life; but first, I had to figure out exactly how I was going to do that – which leads into the next tip.

3. Find Simple Action Strategies

Knowing what action to take (and when to take action) to avoid stress is part of your journey of learning about yourself.

As humans our natural desire is to avoid pain, and that includes painful emotions. Pushing away our painful emotions by using alcohol or drugs may work for short period of time however “what we resist will persist”.

The more self aware you are, the more conscious you are of your emotions and feelings. I would love to give you the perfect solution on how to handle anxiety and stress in your own life. However, this is something that you have to figure out for yourself. The great thing is that there are so many resources available; all you have to do is find the resources that resonate with you and will help you find your courage to take action with confidence and power.

For me, Bryon Katie’s The Work was by far the best starting point as to helping me change my mindset and thoughts around my anxiety and stress.

The Work provides you with four questions that you apply to each stressful/anxious feeling or thought. It took a lot of practice, but over time the four questions have become ingrained into my thinking. Now when facing challenging situations in my life I find that by applying the four questions, I am able to deal with my emotions and feelings far more effectively.

Once I have the right mindset in place, I am able to progress forward and successfully manage the stressful situation facing me. If you’re interested in whether these four questions might help you, do check out this method.

I also liked Bruce Di Marsico’s The Option Method. This model has five questions that also help you interpret the feelings of anxiety, stress and unhappiness in your life in a more positive and energized way.

Both offer strategies that empower you to change the way you think about your stress and anxiety.

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Your thoughts control your actions.

With a more positive mindset you are more empowered to manage the stress and anxiety in your work and in your life.

4. Recognize Causes of Anxiety

There is no way you can escape the challenges and fast pace of change in the 21st century work place.

The term “disruptive technology” is now used to explain the influence and impact that new technology has in the work environment. To successfully manage this change, organizations need to be agile, flexible and adaptive.

The work environment is increasingly more competitive and the rules keep changing. Job losses are now expected in one’s career and loyalty to a company no longer exists, nor is it expected.

Along with this disruption the feelings of uncertainty and fear start to dominate peoples lives. You will know when these negative feelings are in your workplace because people’s behavior towards each other will not be pleasant or respectful.

These negative behaviours and feelings create what is known as a “toxic workplace”. The stress and anxiety that comes from working in a “toxic workplace” can be debilitating. If you do not address these difficult and painful situations early you will find that you will be sucked into a “vortex” of unhappiness and despair.

This is why it is so important that know what your anxiety triggers are. What events, thoughts and feelings can set you off? Are you afraid of change? Do you find it difficult to leave work at work? Do you feel that you have to put in 150% more than anyone else? Do you find it difficult to speak your mind or ask questions? Are you afraid you will lose your job?

It is also important to recognize the “physical signs” of stress and anxiety. Your body will let you know – if your heart starts pumping, sweaty palms, shortness of breath or you feel like you are crazy for no reason. These are definite signs that you are under stress and anxiety is setting in. It is time to take action.

Knowing what your anxiety triggers are is one huge step toward you proactively dealing with the anxiety and stressful situations you face at work.

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5. Stay Connected

Keep your support networks close to you. Let them know what is going on in your life and ask them for help.

The feelings associated with anxiety and stress can sabotage your life if you do not deal with them. You will find that by not addressing these stressful situations can result in you becoming more withdrawn from the people who support and love you.

Focus on building positive relationships where you feel engaged energized and motivated. At times of high stress anxiety will creep in and it is at these times that you need to be surrounded by positive and supportive people. It is these people that you share your feelings and your fears about challenging situations you are facing.

6. Regularly Disconnect

There is a time and a place for work, and there is a time and a place for relaxation and rest. Take time out to reflect and rest. Make it a rule not to bring work home or discuss with friends and family how much work you have to do.

Thinking about work and how much you have to do means that you are not being “Present”. You are not engaging in the relationships that are important to you. You are not giving yourself time to rest and relax. The anxiety will start to build up when you can’t stop thinking about work.

Here’s the other side of the coin, which for some people can be really hard to do: disconnecting from technology!

Allocate a weekend every once in a while where you disconnect from any form of technology: o internet, no phone (unless emergencies) no Facebook, no Twitter, no digital newspapers, etc. Instead, read a book, watch the sunrise or the sunset. Go for walks or go the beach.

Be disconnected for a few days to reconnect with yourself.

7. Focus On The Positive

When facing stressful work situations, it can be really hard to get up every day and go to work feeling happy. When you are tired, anxious and fearful it’s difficult to bring yourself out of a place of despair to one of positivity and joy.

For example, you may have followed all of the previous six tips, are generally a positive and upbeat person, but this one situation/or person at work is just too much. You feel anxiety creeping in.

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Take some time out, sit down, and write a list of all the positive things in your life.

What are your successes? What are your strengths?

Go back to when you were a child and list all the wonderful things you did and loved about your life – your dreams, your hopes, your best childhood friends and all the fun adventures you use to have.

There are negative situations in our lives where we find that we have no influence on changing the outcome. The one person you do have control over however is you.

You have the “Power to Choose” how your respond. You can choose to change your mindset.

You can choose how you deal with your feelings of anxiety and stress. Dealing with anxiety on the job is really down to you choosing how you want to respond to these feelings.

Face Anxiety Head On

Dealing with feelings of anxiety on the job isn’t just something you have to deal with while at work. These feelings will slowly creep into your personal life as well. Practicing these tips above on a regular basis will help you to rediscover your power of choice, your resilience and your courage to successfully deal with feelings of anxiety not only at work, but also in your personal life.

Overcoming anxiety at work and in your life is difficult, but not impossible, to do. Your mindset and how you choose to deal with your feelings of anxiety is very much up to you. Hopefully these seven tips will help you to make the changes to become the empowered and courageous person you were born to be.

Featured photo credit: Twenty20 via twenty20.com

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Kathryn Sandford

Career Resilience Coach passionate about supporting others to grow and thrive in a complex world.

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Last Updated on May 16, 2019

Can You Stop Depression from Damaging Your Brain?

Can You Stop Depression from Damaging Your Brain?

Depression is one of the most common mental health disorders in America, according to the latest mental health statistics.[1] Approximately 17.3 million adults have had at least one major depressive episode.

In this article, we will take a deep look into depression, what a depression brain is like, and how to prevent the damage from depression.

What is Depression?

In order to tap into treatment options for depression, we must first examine what defines this disorder.

Apart from differing scientific and medical jargon, depression – also known as Major Depressive Disorder – is best categorized as a serious mood disorder.

While it is common, it is anything but innocent. The symptoms of depression have serious effects on daily living, and leave the afflicted person with an inability to carry out normal tasks, such as working, interacting with friends and family, and sleeping.

Depression itself is an umbrella term for a list of specific types of depression, such as Postpartum Depression, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (which leads into serious symptoms of depression), Bipolar Disorder, and Psychotic Depression (which is depression with symptoms of psychosis), just to name a few.[2]

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While everyone experiences moments of depression in their life, being clinically diagnosed with depression is usually done with the aid of medical help. This diagnosis typically relies on a baseline of depression symptoms that have been present for at least two weeks.

Symptoms of Depression

Because depression is categorized as a serious mood disorder, most symptoms will begin with a person’s behavior. A person may feel persistent sadness that simply won’t go away, or they may experience a loss of interest in activities that they once enjoyed, like gardening, traveling, or working out.

Other symptoms, although not a complete list, may persist:

  • Feelings of emptiness or hopelessness
  • Anxiety
  • Angry outbursts, followed by a complete mood change (from happy to sad in very quick shifts)
  • Struggles with insomnia or significant changes in sleep schedule
  • Inability and lack of desire to get out of bed in the morning
  • Significant decrease in personal hygiene, nutrition, and maintenance of their home or space
  • Decreased interactions with friends, family, or colleagues
  • Lack of energy and physical weakness, apathy, or pains and aches
  • Trouble concentrating on specific tasks or making decisions
  • Frequent thoughts about death, or even suicidal plans, thoughts, or attempts
  • Back pain and headaches

While this list is not complete or exhaustive to a person’s struggle with depression, it does provide a general picture of some of the common symptoms.[3])

Causes of Depression

Mental health disorders still very much pose a mystery to medical professionals and science, in general. While depression is treated in a variety of ways (medicine, therapy, alternative healing, etc.), professionals are still learning more about this disorder and how it affects people of different genders, ages, and backgrounds.

However, a variety of factors are known to be possible contributors to depression, such as:

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  • Hormones – in cases of giving birth or going through menopause, women’s hormones quickly change, which can trigger depression or similar symptoms
  • Genes – while not everyone gets depression from inherited traits, it is a factor, and research has seen a correlation between depression in families that is carried through generations
  • Brain chemistry – one of the key factors in understanding cause of depression is brain chemistry, specifically neurotransmitters that work with the neuro-circuits in the brain to balance mood stability. If these neurotransmitters are not working properly, it could lead to depression or similar symptoms

We already mentioned brain chemistry, and how it plays an integral part in understanding how your brain works in relation to mood stability. Neurotransmitters are your body’s chemical messengers. They transmit these messages between neurons for a plethora of reasons – cognitive function, organ function, dopamine release, etc.[4]

In terms of relating this to depression, however, those transmitters also regulate mood stability, and if they’re not relaying messages correctly or connecting to the brain circuitry in normal, functioning ways, we see a correlation between that “misfiring” and mental illness.

To paint a picture, imagine your brain split in half, the two lobes or hemispheres perfectly separated from each other.

Now, imagine the mood-stabilizing neurotransmitters like tiny little ping-pong balls that bounce from one hemisphere of the brain to the other, relaying messages that connect the brain as a whole. This is what we normally see in a healthy functioning brain.

However, if there is a change in this chemistry, and the ping-pong balls are not crossing and relaying as they should, that change creates a shift in your brain circuitry that may cause depression or similar symptoms.

Because our brain is an extremely complex and intricate organ which scientists are still studying and learning about, it wouldn’t be complete to say that only chemical imbalances cause depression.

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In fact, recent Harvard research suggests that a slew of factors are involved in creating a correlation between depression and your brain function. These are inclusive of the neurotransmitters we described above, but they also include your way of life, medication, stress levels, and even genetic contributions or ways in which you were brought up.[5]

Because depression is a mood disorder, we have to look at our behavior, and how it is influenced by our brain chemistry.

Behavior is shaped by our temperament, and much of that comes from our genetics. We are predisposed to act in certain social situations in ways that tie us to our family chain.

How we react to life circumstances or other people is very much a reflection of what we picked up from our parents, guardians, friends, or social upbringing. From this, we may make different choices in life, for better or worse, depending on these genetics.

Similarly, our view of the world and our relation to it also have a hand in how depression may form. We create our world view early on in life, and while it is influenced by our family and life events, it’s also very much our own.

If you’ve experienced loss or disappointment, you’re likely to fall back on your world view to cope with it and allow it to protect you. As an example, you may close yourself off from new relationships because you’ve endured heartbreak and don’t believe that you’re worthy of real love; or, you come from an upbringing that wasn’t emotionally available, so you don’t create habit patterns or behaviors that show you how to handle emotion in a healthy way.

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All of these scenarios create behavior. In turn, that behavior creates habit patterns, that in turn, create your daily life and your interaction with it.

While chemical imbalances can have a direct role in manifesting depressive episodes, we have to be aware that our own, inherent behavioral traits are just as powerful contributors.

Medications to re-balance any chemical disruptions in the brain are a proactive tool against depression. These can be explained and provided to you by a medical health professional.

When it comes to our behavior, however, and how we deal with stress, trauma, loss, medical problems, and the like – all of which are triggers for depression – we can implement new habits[6] that can decrease any damage to our state of body and mind, such as:

  • Meditation
  • Deep breathing
  • Yoga or any body-conscious movement or workout
  • Journaling about life events or problems we encounter on a daily basis
  • Therapy or group-sharing
  • Acupuncture, Reiki, or any alternative-healing modality
  • Diet and nutrition rich in foods that cleanse and empower (rather than numb and overpack the gut)
  • Hiking, running, biking, or any cardio-increasing activity
  • Spending time with others who support you

These are habits and tools that you can implement on your own, as well as with a professional. Remember to always consult with your doctor before starting any new regiment.

The Bottom Line

Depression is a disorder that affects our mood. While research has uncovered that depression may be linked to chemical imbalances in the brain, it also suggests that our behavior and inherent genetic traits are strongly connected to how depression manifests.

How you deal with the many ups and downs of daily life are strong indicators of where you may want to make changes, whether medicinal or alternative, to decrease your chances of depression and its damage, and embrace a life of health and well-being.

Featured photo credit: AJ Garcia via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] National Institute of Mental Health: Major Depression
[2] National Institute of Mental Health: Depression
[3] Mayo Clinic: Depression (Major Depressive Disorder
[4] Queensland Brain Institute: What are Neurotransmitters
[5] Harvard Health: What Causes Depression?
[6] Help Guide: Coping with Depression

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