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Published on March 10, 2020

How to Effectively Cope with Work Anxiety

How to Effectively Cope with Work Anxiety

According to the American Institute of Stress, approximately 83% of American workers suffer from work-related stress.[1] Some of this stress can be moderate to mild, while at other times, the stress can lead to more complex problems, such as depression, anxiety, and other forms of mental illness.

The average American is juggling more responsibilities now than in prior generations, so it’s not a surprise that work anxiety creeps in. If left untreated, it can morph into physical and mental ailments that can prevent you from living your best life.

How Does Anxiety Affect Your Work?

Before we can dive into how anxiety affects your work environment, we have to first break down what anxiety is in the physical body.

Anxiety is your body’s natural response to stress.[2] When you’re faced with situations that are new and unfamiliar, normal feelings of fear or apprehension may arise. On a physical level, your palms may start to sweat more and your pulse and breath will quicken.

You also may notice changes on a mental level, particularly in how difficult it becomes to keep your thoughts on task. This is often evident in moments when you have to give a presentation: have you ever lost your train of thought hen everyone’s eyes turned toward you? It’s fairly normal. This is because anxiety steps in full force, and physical reactions take over. Essentially, the mind shuts down, as if your internal circuit breakers blew.

Because symptoms of work anxiety are very physically-based, it becomes difficult to stay on task when working. Your body begins redirecting the mind away from what it’s supposed to be working on and into the worries vying for your attention.

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This is a typical, primal fight or flight response mechanism. We rely on this survival coding to help us in situations where our actual survival may be threatened. However, at work, this mechanism doesn’t serve us. In fact, it creates more problems by gearing the body up to respond to stresses and perceived threats in an overactive way.

Think of a time when you were overloaded with deadlines and projects at work. You likely experienced a heavy dose of work anxiety. You may have also experienced symptoms and stresses of fear at not having enough time to finish everything, or failing to meet your boss’ expectations.

When experiencing work anxiety, you may have trouble concentrating on your work, even when you’re motivated to do so. You may also jump from one task to another and have a hard time settling down to see one project through to completion.

Your restless behavior may impact other people on your team or in your department. This is more evidence to show that one person’s anxiety isn’t localized to their experience only: your energy affects the energies of others around you.

When these anxiety and fear-based emotions reach their peak, they can act as a time bomb. We usually see this as employees overwhelmed with work “flying off the handle” or succumbing to aggression in order to release their anxiety. As a result, not only does your work suffer, but so do your professional relationships.

How to Cope with Work Anxiety

Now that we know what work anxiety is and how it presents itself, we can dig into how to stop it from making us miserable at work. Fortunately, for many of us, the idea of a work-life balance is no longer a taboo subject. More and more employers are jumping on board to ensure that the work environment is fair, balanced, and conducive to health.

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With all of that in mind, however, it is still imperative that you find what works for you. Anxiety may present itself when you least expect it, and it may still come around, even if you’ve worked hard to keep it at bay. Remember that your mental health is an ongoing journey.

Below are some tips to help you gain clarity into how you can effectively cope with work anxiety.

1. Take Breaks Throughout the Day

It’s easy to get sucked into the daily grind. We often dive into emails and work calls immediately upon waking, or we’ll work through our lunch break. However, taking breaks throughout your day is essential. They allow you to disconnect from your task for a brief moment, to give your brain some much-needed rest and resetting.

Consider setting a timer on your phone or computer to go off every hour. When it does, take a quick walk around your office, or go outside if you have more time. Do something other than work: text a friend, listen to your favorite song, or simply close your eyes and meditate for a few minutes.[3] The reset will help you curtail the anxiety before it sneaks up on you.

2. Switch Your Coffee for Something Lighter

While your favorite cup of Joe may be your magical elixir to boost your productivity, it will also cause you to crash throughout your work day. While you may not want to cut coffee altogether, you can supplement your hydration. Reach for some water. Fill your favorite reusable bottle, and maybe add some lemon for zest. Lemon is also great for detoxing the body and regulating your metabolism and gut pH levels.

You can also switch to low-sugar smoothies or juices that give you more energy throughout the day.

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3. Ensure You’re Getting Quality Sleep at Night

This is really the gem of coping with work anxiety. Sleep is often an underrated activity, but it is so important, and it is directly correlated to your productivity and energy levels in the morning.

Lack of good, quality sleep has been linked to anxiety as it causes hyperactivity and restlessness, both of which keep you from focusing on your work effectively.[4] When getting ready for sleep, ensure that you are undisturbed from any screen time and that you’re getting at least 7-8 hours of rest.

4. Ask for Help

If you’re feeling overwhelmed and buried with work, reach out to your managers or co-workers. Often, just speaking out about how you’re feeling can be a gateway to resolving the issue. Many employees may feel hesitant about approaching their bosses and instead accept their workload or environment as normal.

It is vital that you help challenge the stereotype and speak up when your health is being compromised for your job. In such a way, you can also open the door for others to feel comfortable in sharing. This not only de-stigmatizes mental health and dealing with anxiety, but it also puts more importance on having a solid work-life balance.

5. Set Honest Deadlines

Become more practical in the work deadlines that you either set for yourself or agree to. Ideally, everyone would love to be able to get everything done as quickly as possible. However, there are only so many hours in the day.

You should draw boundaries around what we can and cannot take on. Work anxiety really peaks when we say yes to everything and then realize we cannot complete it all. In order to stop this from manifesting, begin to draw your boundaries around work that you’re willing to do. It’s okay to say no, and it doesn’t make you a lazy or unproductive employee. Rather, it makes you one who is working smarter, not harder.

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Final Thoughts

Anxiety is our body’s way of reacting to stress. One of the most common places we experience stress is at work. Between juggling deadlines, projects, and people, it can be overwhelming to complete and excel at everything we pile onto our plate. This is where anxiety takes the front seat, but you can take it back.

By drawing boundaries around what you’re willing and able to accomplish, you keep yourself from spiraling down into the rabbit hole of stressful work. At the same time, tapping into resources of better sleep and richer nutrition will allow you to handle any anxiety that comes your way with a clearer perspective.

While anxiety may feel crippling, there are tools at your disposal that will bring you back into alignment with yourself and your work.

Featured photo credit: Thought Catalog via unsplash.com

Reference

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Aleksandra Slijepcevic

Accredited and Certified Vinyasa Yoga Teacher writing for Health & Fitness

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Last Updated on January 11, 2021

11 Hidden Benefits of Using Oil Diffusers

11 Hidden Benefits of Using Oil Diffusers

Affordable, relaxing, and healthy, oil diffusers are gaining popularity with people everywhere due to their extensive benefits. Oil diffusers work through the simple process of oil diffusion, which uses heat to turn oil into a vapor that is then spread around a living space. Diffused oil can have several relaxation and health-related benefits, including safe scent-dispersion, mosquito and mold defense, stress relief, and more!

Read on for 11 hidden benefits of using oil diffusers.

1. Safe Scents That Make Sense

Unlike candles or air fresheners, oil diffusers release cleansing molecules into your air that work to purify it, not overload it with unhealthy chemicals. Electronic diffusers also do not pose the fire risk that candles do. Plus, they contain the added feature of interchangeability, which means you change oil types for different scents and health benefits.

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2. Stress Relief

Several lab studies have confirmed that diffusing essential oils like lavender have been shown to reduce stress and help relieve anxiety in medical patients. Preliminary studies have also shown that oil diffusers can help alleviate symptoms of depression.

3. Improved Sleep

Diffused oil has relaxing properties that can help people of all ages fall asleep quicker and sleep more soundly. Electronic diffusers not only have the option to mix and match different oil blends (Try a lavender, Bulgarian rose, and Roman chamomile blend to help with insomnia), they also run at a gentle hum that helps relax an agitated mind. Many also come with an auto shut-off feature to help conserve oils once you have fallen asleep.

4. Appetite Control

Much like gum, oil diffusers can help stimulate the senses in a way that works to curb appetite. New research has shown that diffused peppermint oil can help curb appetite by inducing a satiety response within the body. Diffused peppermint oil has also been shown to increase energy.

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5. Bacteria and Mold Killing

When essential oils are diffused in the air, they break down free radicals that contribute to the growth of harmful bacteria. Eucalyptus, thyme, and tea tree oils are especially good for this purpose. Diffused oil is also highly effective when it comes to combating fungal yeast threats, as the oil help makes the air inhospitable for yeasts such as mold. Pine and red thyme essential oils are best for combating mold.

6. Decongestion and Mucus Control

Ever tried Vick’s Vapo-Rub? Its decongesting powers come from active ingredients made from the eucalyptus tree. In principle, oil diffusers work the same way as Vapo-Rub, except they diffuse their decongesting vapor all around the room, not just on your chest or neck. Oil diffusers have been known to cure pneumonia in lab mice.

7. Mosquito Repellant

Nobody likes mosquitoes — but when the trade-off means using repellants full of DEET, a toxic chemical that can be especially harmful to children, mosquito control can often seem like a lose-lose. However, scientists have shown that oil diffusers can be used as a safe and highly effective mosquito repellant. Studies have shown that a diffused oil mixture containing clove essential oil and lemongrass essential oil repelled one type of Zika-carrying mosquito, the Aedes aegypti mosquito, at a rate of 100%.

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8. Pain Relief

While applying oils directly to areas of your body may be the most effective way to alleviate pain, diffusing essential oils can also be an effective means of pain relief. When we inhale healthy essential oils, they enter our blood stream and can help internally relieve persistent pain from headaches, overworked muscles, and sore joints.

9. The New Anti-Viral

Research into the anti-viral effects of oil diffusion is now just gaining steam. A recent study showed that star anise essential oil was proven in medical experiments to destroy the herpes simplex virus in contained areas at a rate of 99%. Another study showed the popular DoTerra oil blend OnGuard to have highly-effective influenza-combating powers.

10. Improved Cognitive Function

Diffusing essential oils has also been shown to improve cognitive function. Many essential oils have adaptogenic qualities, which can work twofold in soothing us when we’re stressed, and giving our bodies a pick-me-up when we’re feeling down or sluggish. By working to level out an imbalanced mood, diffused oils also help us to focus. There are also several essential oils which have been shown to help balance the body’s hormones. With prolonged use, these oils can work to repair the underlying causes responsible for hindering cognitive function.

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11. Money Saving

With ten clear benefits of oil diffusers already outlined, there is one more that should now be obvious: using an oil diffuser will help you to save money. As an anti-viral, bug repelling, and stress-relief solution rolled into one safe product, an oil diffuser used with the proper oils will save you money on products you might otherwise be buying to help cure those pesky headaches or get your kids to fall asleep on time. If you’re wondering just how affordable oil diffusers can be, check the buyer’s guide to the best oil diffusers — you’ll be sure to find one that fits your budget!

Featured photo credit: Jopeel Quimpo via unsplash.com

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