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Last Updated on January 12, 2021

7 Tips for Dealing With Anxiety While On the Job

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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

More by this author

Kathryn Sandford

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

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Published on October 15, 2021

Does Anxiety Make You Tired And Why?

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Does Anxiety Make You Tired And Why?

When you think of anxiety, several scenarios may come to mind: the endless tossing and turning of a restless night, dread over potential future events, pandemic-related overwhelm, or full-blown panic attacks. Even if you’re not diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, you’ve likely experienced anxiety symptoms at some point in your life. In these situations, you might feel a queasiness in your stomach, racing heartbeat, excessive sweating, chest tightness, some tension in your jaw/neck/shoulders, or worrisome thoughts as you prepare for the worst possible scenario. But does anxiety also make you tired?

After experiencing these symptoms, you may indeed feel fatigued. The sensation could fall anywhere on the exhaustion spectrum, from feeling like you just ran a marathon and need to sleep for two days, to just a little worn down and wanting a quick nap to recover.

Below are 7 ways anxiety zaps your energy and how to restore it.

1. Stress Hormone Overload

Anxiety can make you tired via overloading your body with stress hormones. The “fight or flight” response is a key connection between anxiety and fatigue. In fact, this process is made up of three stages: Alarm, Resistance, and Exhaustion. Anxiety triggers our body systems to go into high alert. This is a natural, involuntary reaction that developed in the human brain for survival.

When humans lived with the real, imminent threat of being attacked by a predator, it made sense for our bodies to spring into action without much preparatory thought. Such dangers are rare in modern times, but our brains continue to respond in the same way they did thousands of years ago.

The hormones and chemicals that flood our bodies to prepare us for safety can both affect and be affected by several body systems, and this interaction itself contributes to exhaustion. Adrenaline and cortisol are the two most notable hormones to address here. First, adrenaline is sent out, tensing the muscles and increasing heart rate and blood pressure in preparation to run. Later in the stress response, cortisol is released, enhancing the brain’s use of glucose. This is one of our main fuel sources, so it’s no wonder this contributes to fatigue (see #2).

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You can regulate baseline levels of these stress hormones by regularly practicing yoga, breathwork, meditation, and/or engaging in aerobic exercise.[1] It’s easier to lean into these routines for relief during stress when you’ve already mastered using them during times when you feel calm.

2. Elevated Blood Sugar Levels

Fatigue is one of the most common symptoms of hyperglycemia (high blood sugar), which is shown to be associated with anxiety in diabetic patients.[2] Many people who experience hyperglycemia report feeling tired all the time regardless of their quantity or quality of sleep, nutrition, or exercise.

Although this connection has shown more prevalent and prolonged effects in diabetics, it also occurs with nondiabetics exposed to psychiatric stress.[3] In fact, for all people, the natural stress response elevates blood pressure and heart rate as well as cortisol levels, all of which increase blood sugar levels.[4] This means that anxiety causes a double-hit of exhaustion related to blood sugar fluctuations.

Instead of reaching for comfort foods like chocolate during times of stress, take a calming walk around the block. Gentle movement alone is a great stress reliever that incidentally also helps to regulate blood sugars.[5]

3. Negative Mindset

Anxiety can also make you tired because of repetitive negative thinking (RNT), which is a common symptom of anxiety. RNT involves continuous thoughts via rumination (dwelling on sad or dark thoughts focused on the past) and worry (angst regarding the future). Some researchers argue that having a longtime habit of RNT can harm the brain’s capacity to think, reason, and form memories.[6] While the brain is busy using its energy stores to fuel negative thought patterns, the energy available for these other more productive endeavors is thereby reduced.

Negative thoughts can also disrupt or prevent healthy sleep patterns, keeping our minds racing at night and effectively wreaking havoc on daytime energy. (See #7)

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Reduce these patterns by reframing your feelings over anxious thoughts. Instead of staying stuck on “what if,” focus on what you can do in the here and now. What activity can you engage in for five minutes (or more) that brings you joy? What are you grateful for, no matter what’s going on around you?

4. Digestive Issues

It’s common for people to experience both intestinal and mental issues simultaneously. This suggests a strong connection between the central nervous system and the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, which is known as the gut-brain axis.[7] Simply put, what happens in our digestive tract (and as a result of what we eat) affects the brain and vice versa.

The gut microbiota is a complex population of GI tract microorganisms. When its balance is altered, the body can develop conditions that affect the gut-brain-endocrine relationship. The endocrine system produces and manages adrenaline, for starters. And the gut bacteria’s production of feel-good hormones (serotonin and dopamine—see #5) ties into this relationship as well.

GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) receptors are also found in gut bacteria. GABA is a natural brain relaxant that makes us feel good by helping the body to unwind after a stress-induced neurotransmitter release (e.g., cortisol and adrenaline). When GABA activity is low, it leads to anxiety, depression, insomnia, and mood disorders. These are just a few of the manifestations that demonstrate how gut bacteria influences behavior. All of these contribute to feeling both physically and mentally tired.

You can minimize the symptoms of depression and anxiety by keeping your gut microbiota balanced with probiotic-rich fermented foods. Yogurt with live cultures, sauerkraut, kombucha, kefir, kimchi, miso soup, and tempeh are great foods to include in your diet.[8]

5. Depression

Anxiety and depression often go hand in hand. Research continues to indicate a complex relationship between depression and decreased serotonin—a key neurotransmitter for regulating mood and feelings of wellbeing and happiness. Anxiety is also a direct symptom of serotonin deficiency. Serotonin helps with healthy sleep, mood, and digestion.

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Serotonin is produced in the gut, almost exclusively, at an estimated 90 percent. However, a small quantity is also produced in the hypothalamus, an area of the brain that is pivotal for transmitting energy balance signals. This small cone-shaped structure receives and relays signals transmitted via the vagus nerve from the gastrointestinal tract. It has a central role in mediating stress responses, regulating sleep, and establishing circadian rhythms. It senses and responds to a myriad of circulating hormones and nutrients, directly affecting our mood and energy.[9]

Dopamine is another mood-boosting neurochemical that is depleted in depression. It creates feelings of alertness and wakefulness and, when the body is operating normally, is released in higher amounts in the morning (allowing for daytime energy) and lower at night (preparing for healthy sleep). Stress is one factor that can deplete dopamine, thereby leading to depression, sleep disorders, and fatigue.

Studies show that dopamine levels in the brain can be elevated by increasing dietary intake of tyrosine and phenylalanine.[10] Both of these amino acids are naturally found in protein-rich foods like turkey, beef, eggs, dairy, soy, peas, lentils, and beans.

6. Breathing Problems

Breathlessness and anxiety are closely linked, and this is one of the ways anxiety can make you feel tired. Anxiety can lead to shallow breathing, which can cause shortness of breath while feeling breathless can exacerbate anxiety.[11] It’s a vicious cycle that often leads people to take rapid and shallow breaths, breathing into their upper chest and shoulders.

This type of breathing minimizes oxygen intake and usability. Despite comprising only two percent of the body, our brains consume 20 percent of the body’s oxygen supply. Oxygen is fuel for both mental and physical tasks. When breathing patterns compromise healthy oxygen levels, this can cause considerable fatigue.[12]

End the anxiety-fatigue cycle with focused breathing exercises. It’s important to practice this regularly while you’re not experiencing anxiety or stress, as this will help you to be prepared should a moment of breathless anxiety hit unexpectedly.

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There are several different styles of breathing exercises. There’s an easy one to try, called “Resonant Breathing.” Simply breathe in slowly through your nose as you count to five, then exhale for a count of five. Repeat this for a few minutes. It’s helpful to bring your awareness to any tension, deliberately relaxing your neck, shoulders, and jaw in particular.

7. Sleep Issues

Most of the elements we’ve already discussed inherently tie into sleep issues, which is often the reason why anxiety can make you feel tired. But it’s important to note that this is not always a directly linear cause-and-effect process. Much of it is cyclic. If we don’t get enough quality sleep, we increase our risk of excessive cortisol production, elevated blood pressure and blood sugar levels, depressed mood and mindset disorders, and dysregulation of appetite/craving hormones that affect our digestive health.

Sleep is obviously the number one antidote to feeling tired as a result of anxiety. But at the same time, many of these elements—including anxiety itself—lead to less-than-restorative sleep. We can improve our energy levels by addressing each element discussed here, as well as taking a proactive approach to our sleep health.

One simple habit to help recalibrate your circadian rhythm for healthy sleep patterns is to get outside in the morning. Sunlight exposure in the early hours of the day regulates melatonin production, helping us to feel sleepy at night.

You Don’t Have to Live Your Life Anxious and Exhausted

Times of extreme stress, like driving in heavy traffic or nerve-wracking situations like public speaking, can easily induce an anxiety response. Even “normal” everyday stressors, like feeling overwhelmed with work and home responsibilities, can build up to anxious feelings over time.

Our bodies’ response to stress and anxiety affects many of its functions in complex ways. When we unravel the interconnections of these processes, we can see how each part plays an intrinsic role in contributing to fatigue. By addressing each element individually, we can make simple lifestyle changes that resolve anxiety and diminish the ways it makes us tired as a result.

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More Tips on Coping With Anxiety

Featured photo credit: Joice Kelly via unsplash.com

Reference

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