How You Can Cope with Anxiety in the Workplace
I should start by saying we are not professional therapists, psychologists or medical professionals. Anything related to this post is through our own experiences and personal interactions we have had with other people.
In today's electronic environment 18% of the US adult population suffers from some form of anxiety. Through the constant stimulation from our electronic devices and the increasing pressure to outperform the person next to you, it's no surprise that people have anxiety triggers in the workplace. Here are some ways to help combat those moments:
What's Really Bothering You?
After many years of carrying around anxiety as if it were my best friend, I finally decided to look at what was really causing the issue. I have to say, this was probably the hardest and easiest thing I have ever had to do. For the hard part, it was actually taking time to look at what was causing all of this fear.
Ever heard of 5 Whys? It's a process that many organizations use to identify root causes of an issue. So I decided to try it in my life! I had to modify it to ask myself first, "What are you afraid of?" From there, you ask yourself "Why?" or "What's the worst that could happen in that moment?" The next step, the hardest one, is to look at whatever that ultimate worst thing that could happen - and be okay with it.
Be Prepared for Anything
I know! Easier said than done! But for example, if losing your job is the absolute worst think about how you would tackle that problem if it actually happened. The reality is that any organization could go out of business or suffer a massive hit at any point. So make a plan! I'm not saying by any means to get ready to quit your job, but having a backup plan, especially financially, can ease stress caused by worrying about performance or job stability.
Exercise for Happiness
I know you hear it over and over, at least I did, but happy people exercise. I urge you to do some research on the benefits of even light exercise. In no way am I suggested we all get our P90X on! But even small walks or some simple desk exercises can help expel some of that energy. If you notice some people begin to pace when they are anxious or nervous - it helps them expel some of that energy.
Build Your Time Management Skills
One of the top reasons for workplace stress is workload and deadlines. While you may be in a position to have an open discussion about your workload, many people are not. I have worked with many managers that take the discussion of workloads as a negative indication that you are not the right fit for the position. While in some cases that thinking is absolutely absurd, it is the reality.
So how can you manage the workload? Manage your time.
If you have a team working under you, use their talents and delegate some of the work to them. Make time to help them help you! Additionally, block time off on your schedule each week (or even day) to work on projects that are the highest priority. You can even mark it as a meeting in your calendar, so people know that you are busy.
If you are not working in an office type environment, watch your coworkers who seem to have it all together. Ask them their time management techniques, the worst they may say is no. I did this a lot early in my career, and it helped me immensely. It also became the first step in building professional relationships I still carry with me today.
Live an After-Work Life, Too
A couple Facebook memes could easily describe the two types of people after work - those who go home to the couch and try to relax, and those who spend time running around with friends or family. The reality is that each person has their own preferences, but if one isn't working, try the other!
If you spend a lot of your time loafing around after work and worrying about the next day, try making time to go out with friends or family, take an evening class or find a hobby you enjoy.
I did this a lot in the early stages over trying to overcome anxiety. I first started with after-work walks, which had a lot of great benefits and it got me off of the worry couch. On the other hand, when life was getting really hectic (usually around the holidays) I recognized it was time for a break to recharge my batteries.
Leave Work at Work
As I have mentioned before, everyone is different, but worrying about work or answering emails from your bed may not be the best practice if you suffer from anxiety at work.
At worst, it could taint your "safe-zone" of being at home and cause you more negative stress.
There are countries who are beginning to shift their laws and regulations to combat the 24-hour accessibility of workplaces to their employees - and it's a good thing. Too much can cause even the brightest start to burn out!
Take Those Breaks
While you're Googling the benefits of exercise, take a quick peek at the impact of regular breaks. There is significant research that supports taking regular breaks leads to higher creative problem solving, employee efficiency and reduced stress for workers. And what does reduced stress mean? Less burning out.
But It's Not Work, It's Me
Perhaps you have another situation outside of work that is clouding your workplace groove. That's okay, too. Some of these tips can still help you get a handle on life outside of the workplace. However, whether it is work or personal, if you are suffering from anxiety or depression, we urge you to seek a professional assistance.