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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

More by this author

Aleksandra Slijepcevic

Accredited and Certified Vinyasa Yoga Teacher writing for Health & Fitness

How to Effectively Cope with Work Anxiety 4 Signs You’re Emotionally Drained (And What To Do) 15 Positive Coping Skills for Stress That You Should Learn How to Practice Mindfulness (A Beginner’s Guide) 15 Simple Ways to Boost Your Emotional Health

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Last Updated on March 25, 2020

How to Live Longer? 21 Ways to Live a Long Life

How to Live Longer? 21 Ways to Live a Long Life

When it comes to living long, genes aren’t everything. Research has revealed a number of simple lifestyle changes you can make that could help to extend your life, and some of them may surprise you.

So, how to live longer? Here are 21 ways to help you live a long life

1. Exercise

It’s no secret that physical activity is good for you. Exercise helps you maintain a healthy body weight and lowers your blood pressure, both of which contribute to heart health and a reduced risk of heart disease–the top worldwide cause of death.

2. Drink in Moderation

I know you’re probably picturing a glass of red wine right now, but recent research suggests that indulging in one to three glasses of any type of alcohol every day may help to increase longevity.[1] Studies have found that heavy drinkers as well as abstainers seem to have a higher risk of early mortality than moderate drinkers.

3. Reduce Stress in Your Life

Stress causes your body to release a hormone called cortisol. At high levels, this hormone can increase blood pressure and cause storage of abdominal fat, both of which can lead to an increased risk of heart disease.

4. Watch Less Television

A 2008 study found that people who watch six hours of television per day will likely die an average of 4.8 years earlier than those who don’t.[2] It also found that, after the age of 25, every hour of television watched decreases life expectancy by 22 minutes.

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Television promotes inactivity and disengagement from the world, both of which can shorten your lifespan.

5. Eat Less Red Meat

Red meat consumption is linked to an increased risk of heart disease and cancer.[3] Swapping out your steaks for healthy proteins, like fish, may help to increase longevity.

If you can’t stand the idea of a steak-free life, reducing your consumption to less than two to three servings a week can still incur health benefits.

6. Don’t Smoke

This isn’t exactly a revelation. As you probably well know, smoking significantly increases your risk of cancer.

7. Socialize

Studies suggest that having social relationships promotes longevity.[4] Although scientists are unsure of the reasons behind this, they speculate that socializing leads to increased self esteem as well as peer pressure to maintain health.

8. Eat Foods Rich in Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids decrease the risk of heart disease[5] and perhaps even Alzheimer’s disease.[6] Salmon and walnuts are two of the best sources of Omega-3s.

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9. Be Optimistic

Studies suggest that optimists are at a lower risk for heart disease and, generally, live longer than pessimists.[7] Researchers speculate that optimists have a healthier approach to life in general–exercising more, socializing, and actively seeking out medical advice. Thus, their risk of early mortality is lower.

10. Own a Pet

Having a furry-friend leads to decreased stress, increased immunity, and a lessened risk of heart disease.[8] Depending on the type of pet, they can also motivate you to be more active.

11. Drink Coffee

Studies have found a link between coffee consumption and longer life.[9] Although the reasons for this aren’t entirely clear, coffee’s high levels of antioxidants may play a role. Remember, though, drowning your cup of joe in sugar and whipped cream could counter whatever health benefits it may hold.

12. Eat Less

Japan has the longest average lifespan in the world, and the longest lived of the Japanese–the natives of the Ryukyu Islands–stop eating when they’re 80% full. Limiting your calorie intake means lower overall stress on the body.

13. Meditate

Meditation leads to stress reduction and lowered blood pressure.[10] Research suggests that it could also increase the activity of an enzyme associated with longevity.[11]

Taking as little as 15 minutes a day to find your zen can have significant health benefits, and may even extend your life.

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How to meditate? Here’re 8 Meditation Techniques for Complete Beginners

14. Maintain a Healthy Weight

Being overweight puts stress on your cardiovascular system, increasing your risk of heart disease.[12] It may also increase the risk of cancer.[13] Maintaining a healthy weight is important for heart health and living a long and healthy life.

15. Laugh Often

Laughter reduces the levels of stress hormones, like cortisol, in your body. High levels of these hormones can weaken your immune system.

16. Don’t Spend Too Much Time in the Sun

Too much time in the sun can lead to an increased risk of skin cancer. However, sun exposure is an excellent way to increase levels of vitamin D, so soaking up a few rays–perhaps for around 15 minutes a day–can be healthy. The key is moderation.

17. Cook Your Own Food

When you eat at restaurants, you surrender control over your diet. Even salads tend to have a large number of additives, from sugar to saturated fats. Eating at home will enable you to monitor your food intake and ensure a healthy diet.

Take a look at these 14 Healthy Easy Recipes for People on the Go and start to cook your own food.

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18. Eat Mushrooms

Mushrooms are a central ingredient in Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s GOMBS disease fighting diet. They boost the immune system and may even reduce the risk of cancer.[14]

19. Floss

Flossing helps to stave off gum disease, which is linked to an increased risk of cancer.[15]

20. Eat Foods Rich in Antioxidants

Antioxidants fight against the harmful effects of free-radicals, toxins which can cause cell damage and an increased risk of disease when they accumulate in the body. Berries, green tea and broccoli are three excellent sources of antioxidants.

Find out more antiosidants-rich foods here: 13 Delicious Antioxidant Foods That Are Great for Your Health

21. Have Sex

Getting down and dirty two to three times a week can have significant health benefits. Sex burns calories, decreases stress, improves sleep, and may even protect against heart disease.[16] It’s an easy and effective way to get exercise–so love long and prosper!

More Health Tips

Featured photo credit: Sweethearts/Patrick via flickr.com

Reference

[1] Wiley Online Library: Late‐Life Alcohol Consumption and 20‐Year Mortality
[2] BMJ Journals: Television viewing time and reduced life expectancy: a life table analysis
[3] Arch Intern Med.: Red Meat Consumption and Mortality
[4] PLOS Medicine: Social Relationships and Mortality Risk: A Meta-analytic Review
[5] JAMA: Fish and Omega-3 Fatty Acid Intake and Risk of Coronary Heart Disease in Women
[6] NCBI: Effects of Omega‐3 Fatty Acids on Cognitive Function with Aging, Dementia, and Neurological Diseases: Summary
[7] Mayo Clinic Proc: Prediction of all-cause mortality by the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory Optimism-Pessimism Scale scores: study of a college sample during a 40-year follow-up period.
[8] Med Hypotheses.: Pet ownership protects against the risks and consequences of coronary heart disease.
[9] The New England Journal of Medicine: Association of Coffee Drinking with Total and Cause-Specific Mortality
[10] American Journal of Hypertension: Blood Pressure Response to Transcendental Meditation: A Meta-analysis
[11] Science Direct: Intensive meditation training, immune cell telomerase activity, and psychological mediators
[12] JAMA: The Disease Burden Associated With Overweight and Obesity
[13] JAMA: The Disease Burden Associated With Overweight and Obesity
[14] African Journal of Biotechnology: Anti-cancer effect of polysaccharides isolated from higher basidiomycetes mushrooms
[15] Science Direct: Periodontal disease, tooth loss, and cancer risk in male health professionals: a prospective cohort study
[16] AHA Journals: Sexual Activity and Cardiovascular Disease

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