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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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Published on September 25, 2020

5 Powerful Self-Care Ideas for When Life Is Stressful

5 Powerful Self-Care Ideas for When Life Is Stressful

Stress doesn’t discriminate. It affects everyone, invariably in different ways. Regardless of how stress shows up in your life, I think we can all agree that it’s present. When it does show up, it takes over the show. It then becomes difficult to stay in the present moment or show gratitude for what and who we have in our life. In the eye of the stress storm, everything is tossed around into oblivion. This is probably when self-care finally comes to our mind.

How Does Stress Show Up?

On a physical scale, stress tends to be behind many of our typical ailments, such as headaches, insomnia, muscle tension, or body aches and pain.[1] When we’re in stressful situations, our body activates our fight-or-flight response. According to the American Institute of Stress, when the body is in this mode due to stress, “the body’s sympathetic nervous system is activated due to the sudden release of hormones. The sympathetic nervous system stimulates the adrenal glands, triggering the release of catecholamines, which include adrenaline and noradrenaline. This results in an increase in heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing rate.”[2]

Why is this important? While our fight-or-flight response is extremely helpful when we’re in situations that risk our survival, not every situation is that dire. However, the body doesn’t know how to differentiate between such scenarios. Rather, we become accustomed to seeing every stressful situation as dire, and essentially locked into this fight-or-flight response automatically. This causes us to burn out because our body is constantly fighting or fleeing from threats that are not causing us any real harm.

On a mental and emotional scale, according to the Mayo Clinic, “Stress symptoms can affect your body, your thoughts and feelings, and your behavior.” Everything is interconnected. When our physical body takes a toll due to stress, this has a domino effect on how we process our thoughts and feelings. Therefore, it is not uncommon to see correlations between depression and anxiety when it comes to dealing with stress.

How to Combat Stress?

Below are five self-care ideas for combating stress in your life. Consider implementing them into your daily routine for the best results.

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1. Start a Brain Dump Writing Exercise

When you’re overwhelmed with thoughts, it can become very difficult to stay present and focused. This could affect you at work, in school, or in your relationships. It’s as if your mind were filled to the brim with thoughts that are constantly competing for your attention. If left unattended, this can affect your performance or your state of being. Stress is just brewing!

One exercise to get this under control is called a Brain Dump, and it’s exactly how it sounds. Start by getting comfortable with a pen and paper or your favorite journal. Without any special formatting or introduction, just start writing any and all thoughts that come up. Consider your paper a blank canvas onto which you’re going to spill every thought, no matter how small or unimportant. This can look like a laundry list, a jumble of words, or a paragraph. Don’t think too much of how it looks. The idea is to give your thoughts an exit. Once they’re on paper, they’re no longer swimming in your head for attention.

Once you have them written down, leave them as they are. We have a tendency to want to fix our thoughts. Instead, allow them to simply exist as they are — they’re not right or wrong. Consider coming back to this exercise daily or whenever you feel like you have a lot on your mind.

2. Sweat It Out

There is nothing more therapeutic than moving the physical body when it feels the weight of stress. Energetically, we carry our day in our body! If we’ve had a particularly difficult day, that energy is going to feel tense and unsettling. This is why it’s so important to move and really break a sweat!

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America,[3]

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“Scientists have found that regular participation in aerobic exercise has been shown to decrease overall levels of tension, elevate and stabilize mood, improve sleep, and improve self-esteem.”

Find what exercise regimen works for you, and commit to it for a few days per week. Scientists have also found that even 10-15 minutes of aerobic exercise can have a tremendous effect on your body. Go for a run, take a spin class or a power yoga class, or dance the stress away in Zumba. Whatever gets your heart rate up and breaks a sweat is one of the perfect self-care ideas to keep the stress away.

3. Seek the Care of a Therapist

Sometimes writing out our thoughts and feelings doesn’t seem quite enough. This is common and to be expected. After all, we are complex human beings who want to understand and process our emotions on a deeper level. This is why having a regular therapy session is so beneficial!

In the presence of a professional, we can open up about what stressful situations we’re going through. We don’t have to keep our emotions bottled up, and we know that our honesty will be protected and safeguarded.

Additionally, when we’re feeling stressed, we often want to simply vent and get things off of our chest. Having someone on the receiving end who will simply listen and hold space is a truly healing gift. We can often leave the session feeling more empowered, seen, and offloaded of the stress we brought in.

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Lastly, we may be able to receive guidance from our therapist on a particular situation we’re struggling with. Having someone else’s perspective on something we’re too emotionally close to can be just the right solution.

Here are more self-care ideas from a therapist: Self Care Tips During Difficult Times (A Therapist’s Advice).

4. Interrupt Your Day

This may seem like a derailing technique, but give it a shot! Interrupting your day means introducing something entirely new or random into a routine that is very monotonous or typical.

If your work or school day is the same sequence of events every single day, bringing in an interruption can be quite conducive to your productivity and creativity. This can look like pausing in the middle of the day for a yoga stretch at your desk or in your office. It could be playing your favorite playlist in-between meetings or taking a walk outside for lunch. Not only does this stir up new energy for your day, but it can also de-stress your day.

As I said in the earlier tip, when we’re too close to a situation or conflict, we have a harder time breaking away. We’re so emotionally and mentally invested that we don’t see how that proximity is affecting our health. So, interrupt yourself when you’re feeling stress coming on, and do something fun, random, and refreshing.

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5. Get Some Energy Work Done

Energy work is anything that is being done to improve the circulation and energetic flow of the body. This could be a massage, Reiki session, chiropractic adjustment, or acupuncture. As I said in a previous tip, moving the body helps move the energy that is blocked or stuck. This is why exercise is so important. However, sometimes we need a session where that work is done for us by a licensed professional. In such treatments, we have the luxury to relax and receive the benefits of the treatment. It’s a beautiful way to self-care!

Final Thoughts

Stress is unfortunately a common part of our life. It affects everyone, but to what extent it affects you is personal. One thing is for sure, and that is that stress has a tremendous effect on our physical, mental, and emotional state. This is why regular exercise is so important, as well as mental stimulation and emotional release. These self-care ideas won’t necessarily guard you from ever feeling stressed, but they will help you manage it better.

More Self-Care Ideas

Featured photo credit: Alisa Anton via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Mayo Clinic: Stress Management
[2] The American Institute of Stress: How the Fight or Flight Response Works
[3] Anxiety and Depression Association of America: Physical Activity Reduces Stress

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