There is no doubt that work is a stressful place for many of us, and unfortunately, anxiety can make our daily experiences at work even more stressful. If you constantly feel as if you’re in a state of fight-or-flight during your workday or you are having consistent trouble focusing, it might be time to consider whether or not anxiety is to blame.
Like anything else, anxiety in the workplace can affect us in many ways. Some of us may experience trouble concentrating, while others may find themselves feeling constantly tired. Some of us may end up seeing a variety of signs of anxiety at work. Recognizing the particular ways that anxiety affects you can be one of the hardest parts of overcoming anxiety in the workplace, but it is a necessary first step in overcoming it.
How Can Anxiety Affect You at Work?
While there are many different ways that anxiety may affect you, here are a few ways that anxiety may be affecting you at work. If you are suffering from anxiety at work, you may:
- Feel more irritable or short-tempered when talking to coworkers, customers, or clients
- Notice that the quality of your work has decreased
- Lack of focus or motivation
- Always feel tired and call in sick more often
- Not complete tasks on time or find yourself procrastinating longer
- Always fear failure or not want to try new things
- Try to avoid things, people, projects, or tasks
How to Work Through Your Anxiety at Work
Now, without further ado, let’s explore some tips you can use to work through your anxiety at work.
Tip number 1: focus on the breath. Yeah, you’ve probably heard this one a lot, but hear us out. When we feel anxious, we go into fight-or-flight mode. This typically means that our hearts are beating faster, adrenaline is pumping through our veins, and we are ready to jump into action at any moment.
Taking a second to focus on your breath can help to ease some of this energy and allow you to relax. So, try your favorite mindful breathing exercise for just a couple of minutes. Our favorite? The box breathing exercise.
To do this, simply follow these steps:
- Inhale through your nose for four seconds.
- Hold your breath for four seconds.
- Exhale through your mouth for four seconds.
Repeat as many times as you need to feel calm and centered.
Stop Anxious Thoughts Early
Have you ever had a random intrusive thought that led you down a rabbit hole of negative thinking? Yeah, we have too. When we feel anxious, we are more prone to falling into these rabbit holes and ruminating on all of the negative possibilities of a situation.
Luckily, there is a pretty easy way to catch ourselves before we fall into these traps. When you notice an anxious thought or feeling, simply say “Stop!” to yourself. This typically works best when you say it out loud because it really works to break yourself out of the thought chain. However, if you feel uncomfortable saying this out loud, you can opt for the more subtle option of lightly snapping a rubber band or hair tie around your wrist.
After you have stopped the thought, replace it with the evidence and facts that you can see around you. This can help you to realize that your negative thoughts are not reflective of what is actually happening.
When we feel stressed, we typically feel disconnected from our bodies and our surroundings. Unfortunately, this can increase our stress levels, becoming an unforgiving (and unhappy) cycle.
So, let’s explore an easy way to ground yourself when you start feeling overwhelmed.
- Place your feet firmly on the ground (you can even take your shoes off and feel the ground with your feet if you are in a place where you can do this).
- Sit up straight in your chair and place your hands (palms down) on your armrests or where they fall naturally on your thighs, wherever you feel most comfortable.
- Check-in with at least three of your senses and take a moment to notice your surroundings.
- What do you feel?
- What do you see?
- What do you smell?
- What do you hear?
- What do you taste?
Practice Your Time Management and Organization
Try scheduling your time. Take stock of the tasks you need to accomplish and prioritize the most important ones first. Then, using this list (and your priorities), make an hourly plan for your day. You can then use this schedule to stay on task and make sure you are getting the most out of your day without constantly having to think about what you still need to get done.
This includes taking breaks! If you are constantly filling each and every second of your day with work, you’re going to burn out — and fast. So, rather than making your day go-time 100% of the time, schedule some breaks. These can help you to relax between tasks and break your day into smaller, more manageable chunks.
Ask for Help
Sometimes you may not be able to overcome your anxiety on your own. This does not mean that you aren’t trying or you aren’t doing enough. We know that asking for help can be extremely intimidating, especially if you feel like you should be able to handle something on your own. But let’s be honest here. There is nothing in your life that you have to do alone.
We, as humans, thrive in groups. We rely on each other to come up with the best ideas and solutions.
When we work together, we can come up with incredible solutions that we would never have thought of on our own. So, if you are struggling to overcome your anxiety at work on your own, ask for help. Ask a friend, family member, or even a coworker for assistance where you need it. Maybe you are really busy working on a project, and you could use an evening to relax. Ask a good friend or loved one if they could watch your kids or pets for an evening. Maybe you have a trusted colleague that you can talk to to help you feel supported at work.
If you are finding yourself struggling to manage your anxiety and it is affecting your work, you may want to get in touch with a therapist to get professional guidance. Remember, there is nothing wrong with asking for help when you need it. So, if you are looking for help in overcoming your anxiety at work, please do not hesitate to reach out to us at Love Heal Grow to get in touch with one of our therapists.