10 Tips to help you beat anxiety in the workplace
Everyone has the feeling of anxiety at some point in their life, for example, you may feel nervous and anxious before a driving test, a big exam or even a job interview. At times like these, feeling anxious and worried is completely normal and can in fact be beneficial. However, some people find it extremely difficult to control their worries and fears. Their feelings of anxiety become a constant in their lives and can have a huge effect on them on a day to day basis. Anxiety disorders are real, serious medical conditions - just as real and serious as physical disorders. Anxiety is a feeling of worry, nervousness or unease that affects millions of people from all walks of life both mentally and physiologically.
Work-related stress and anxiety is caused by undue pressure and demands being placed on employees at work. Recent studies have shown that anxiety in the workplace is only increasing over time and is something that should be addressed by employers more seriously.
Although employers are being urged to educate themselves on the matter and make changes to reduce these levels of anxiety and stress, it will take time before we see any real results. However, if you are battling with anxiety in the workplace, you needn't wait around for your employer to make these changes - there are tools that you are able to implement in order to ensure you are happier and healthier at work. Below are 10 simple tips you can incorporate in your daily routine in order to help you manage your anxiety levels in the workplace. Whilst some of these might work really well for you, there’s a chance others won’t, so it’s up to you to test them out and see what feels good. The key here is persistence and finding what feels right for you.
1. Talking to someone trustworthy
It’s really important to have someone that you can talk to on a regular basis. A colleague whom you trust and who is a good listener would be the ideal candidate as they would be familiar with your working environment and your day-to-day tasks. Just getting your thoughts out there can make all the difference.
You may even consider talking to your line-manager or HR department about your anxieties if you feel comfortable doing so - this could take a weight off your shoulders knowing that they are aware of the situation and could even give them an opportunity to make healthy changes that would benefit you.
If you really aren't much of a talker, an alternative to this is keeping a journal. Putting your thoughts down on paper allows you to let go of them and can result in you feeling much lighter.
2. Recognise the symptoms
Anxiety can feel very different for everyone, but it’s helpful to recognise the symptoms that display themselves when you are beginning to slip into an anxious state. As you’ve probably experienced, it can be incredibly difficult to do anything at all when you are feeling anxious or experiencing a panic attack. This is why it is important to recognise the signs, so that you can use some of the following tips and tricks before you’re too anxious to function.
3. Learn some simple techniques
Breathing - When you feel panic beginning to set in, try taking some very deep and slow breaths. You might even want try out some Alternate Nostril Breathing exercises.
HALT Checklist - When you begin to feel the anxiety creeping up on you, stop yourself and go through the HALT Checklist. Take a moment to step back and consciously ask yourself whether you are hungry, angry, lonely or tired. If you answer yes to any of these, take care of it and then notice how it has changed your state
4. Get enough sleep
If you need a cup of coffee try having it before 12pm as caffeine can take up to 12 hours to leave your system and can, therefore, affect your sleep if you drink it too late in the day.
Decrease stimulation before bed by reading a book or meditating rather than watching TV or using your phone.
Eat foods or have drinks that promote sleep, such as chamomile or ginger tea, a handful of nuts, warm milk or fruits high in melatonin like cherries and kiwis.
Try going to sleep at the same time every night. You might consider using a sleep cycle app to track your sleeping patterns and ensure you are getting a healthy amount of sleep.
Practice mindfulness for sleep during the day to mentally prepare you for a good night's sleep.
5. Live a healthier lifestyle
Yoga is known to dramatically reduce anxiety and promotes both mental and physical health, not to mention, it's fun and relaxing!
Incorporating a workout into your routine a few times a week can drastically reduce anxiety levels and generally make you feel happier and healthier.
Improving your eating habits and eating clean impacts the way you feel and can make a difference to your overall mood and energy levels.
6. Leave for work earlier than you normally would
Try leaving for work at least 15 minutes earlier than you normally would so that you are not flustered once you get to work and can start your day on a calm note.
If you are in a position to walk to work or can walk part of the way, this could be a great way to clear your head, get some fresh air and some exercise.
7. Create a balanced schedule
Put into place a schedule that allows time for work, family, social and some personal time to yourself. Having 'me' time is important and should be a priority.
Remember to include regular breaks in your work schedule to allow you to get away from your screen for a few minutes.
Although working through your lunch break might impress your boss, remember it's been put in place for a reason. You need that time to get away from your desk and think of something other than work. Taking your lunch break will improve your productivity and concentration levels during the second half of the day and will help you keep your stress levels in check.
Learn to delegate when it is appropriate and don't wait until you are up to your ears in work before you do so. Taking on too much leads to stress and will act as a massive trigger for your anxieties.
Put yourself first when taking on new projects or tasks and don't feel afraid to say 'no' if you feel like you're going to be biting off more than you can chew.
9. Break tasks up and prioritise
It's easy to become overwhelmed and stressed out when you have a lot to do and haven't put a structure in place to execute the tasks at hand. Break projects down into smaller tasks and prioritise these so that you are working in an organised manner. Use timetables and set personal deadlines for each task to help motivate yourself to complete them in a timely fashion. If you're the creative type, make this fun with different colours and sticky notes etc!
10. Know when to “switch off”
Getting your downtime is essential so when you're not working, learn to really "switch off". Put rules in place that will help you do this like "No work calls after 6:00pm" or "No checking emails until I am dressed for work". Creating these boundaries will allow for the time you need to recuperate when you're not working.