Dealing with Anxiety at Work

Throughout the last two years with COVID-19 and Lockdowns the levels of anxiety and fear of an uncertain future have risen exponentially. Whatever your reason for feeling anxious, please know that this can sometimes just be a feeling, and not always a condition that will always be “here to stay” so you can ABSOLUTELY overcome it! However, please make sure that you always speak to your GP when you have these feelings as there are many reasons and you should always seek professional advice! Having said that, there are a lot of things you CAN do, that cost you nothing and if you need help implementing new routines, please reach out we will help you along your path!

Find a Designated Space to Relax

Find an area away from but close to your workspace that can act as a ‘safe haven’ for when your anxiety gets too difficult to manage while you’re at your workspace where you need to focus. Anxiety can be extremely challenging, especially if you are still in your workspace – have somewhere in mind that you can take a relief break to calm your anxieties before returning to your workspace, this could be something as simple as; taking a bathroom break, stepping outside for some fresh air or popping to the kitchen to make a cup of tea/coffee. In some instances, just physically stepping away from your anxieties for a few moments can refresh your perspective before returning to your workspace.

Try some Relaxation Techniques

There are also many ways that you can physically soothe your anxieties – focusing on breath, for example. Place one hand on your heart and the other on your stomach, and then slowly take a deep inhalation and hold shortly until slowly releasing your breath. Repeat this process as needed to return to a regulated breathing pattern when feeling anxious.

This is just one example of how breath can be used to calm anxieties, there are many other ways that you can practice relaxation techniques – take a brisk walk or do some yoga during a lunch break, play some rainforest sounds through your headphones, listen to some music while working if you are able – Remember that there is no one method to getting rid of anxieties, listen to what your body needs and what method works best for you.

Positive Self-talk/Affirmations

Positive thoughts are without a doubt the best tool for easing anxious feelings but it is also one of the most difficult tools to use as anxiety tends to bring a wave of negative and intrusive thoughts that can cloud our judgement. Try looking at the facts of a situation rather than how you are feeling in that moment, this can relieve the negative thoughts that come with anxiety and reassure you that your anxieties do not mean that you are failing. Anxiety is simply a sign that you care about something – next time you begin feeling anxious, remind yourself of the facts of the situation, that what you are feeling is valid and you are feeling this way because you care about what you’re doing.

Set Boundaries with Working Hours

Do you tend to take work home with you? If your anxiety continues after your workday is over then consider how much you are taking work home with you – whether physically or mentally – not being able to separate our working life from our home life can lead to work anxiety worsening. Try setting some clear boundaries on your working hours,

- “I finish work at 6, I make sure to clock out mentally as well as physically”

- “I think about work almost every evening – this week(end) I will enjoy spending time with loved ones and enjoy my home life”

Having a stable work/life balance can significantly improve feelings of anxiousness but if your work life slips into your home life then it can be difficult to separate the two – combined work and home life can quickly lead to burnout as the situation doesn’t allow room for your personal life/growth.

Find the Cause of your Anxiety

Keep a notebook near your workspace, when you start to feel stress and anxiety try journaling! Journaling has been proven to relieve stress, acting as a release for anxieties and other negative emotions. Another benefit is that you can read over what you’ve previously written and analyse your fears to discover what is actually causing your anxiety in the workplace, having this knowledge of what is causing you to feel anxious can ease the pressure on trying to control it as it no longer has the power over your thoughts that it used to.

Talk to your Colleagues

Anxiety in the workplace can make the simplest of tasks seem so much more daunting than they need to be – if you are experiencing anxiety of any form within the workplace make sure to let your colleagues know how you are feeling, this way they can support you as best as they can in whichever way is most beneficial to you – if your colleagues are left in the dark about how you are feeling they won’t be able to give you the support that you need. This can at times be the most daunting task of all yet if no one in your workplace knows that you are struggling then they will not be able to help or guide you through your anxieties.

Work With & Explore your Anxiety

Anxiety does not always have to be a negative experience – as we talked about above, anxiety is simply a sign that you care about what you are doing and it can turn out to be a powerful motivator for completing tasks. If you feel comfortable in doing so, try leaning into your anxious feelings and explore the way they’re making you feel and how that is affecting your work – does it motivate you, or does it cause you to procrastinate?

Another good thing to remember is that nervousness and excitement are made up of the same chemicals in our brains – they have the same physiological feeling in our bodies and have very similar external traits – the difference? How we perceive it.

When starting to feel anxious you can actually reframe how your brain perceives your emotions, if the fight or flight is triggered then feelings of panic may start to arise however with enough positive reminders to yourself, the initial feelings of anxiety will manifest into excitement over time.

Contact Your GP

If you’re experiencing severe anxiety or your symptoms are worsening please contact your GP or another medical professional that can provide the correct treatment for you – medication, counselling, CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy), etc. These methods can help prevent panic attacks as well make your anxiety easier to control overall – if your symptoms are milder and you don’t feel that you need medication or other professional help then there are other ways to regain control of your anxieties such as; improving diet i.e. Cutting out caffeine, alcohol, highly processed foods and foods high in sugar. Frequently exercising whether indoors or outdoors and getting an adequate sleep each night – these have all been proven to improve general mood and lessen feelings of anxiety.

Remember that everyone feels anxiety differently – what works for you may not work for someone else and vice versa. Keep looking for the right method that eases your anxiety, only you know what’s best for you!