Anxiety is a natural and normal part of life. Everyone experiences it once in a while, and that’s okay. However, when anxiety becomes persistent, it can become a dreadful experience that will bring us down every time it arises.
Some people experience anxiety more than others. The tricky part about these feelings is that they could be generated by a lot of factors. Nevertheless, anxiety becomes a truly sabotaging element when it stops us from accomplishing our personal and professional goals.
There are a lot of workers who are fighting anxiety in the workplace. Kate Cummins, a famous clinical psychologist that works at Stanford University suggests that “Most workers operate with certain degrees of anxiety at all times in order to achieve success”.
When you have to ask your boss for a raise, hold a public speech, or tell your employees that you have to let them go while knowing that their families depend on your paycheck, anxiety often kicks in.
Nevertheless, there’s a huge difference between occasional anxiety and ongoing, intense anxiety. If anxiety is an everyday factor while you’re at work, your motivation, self-confidence, and focus will be significantly affected. Not to mention the huge amounts of stress that are putting both your physical and mental health at risk.
So, what can you do?
First of all, acknowledge the fact that anxiety is definitely treatable. Secondly, understand that even though your experience with it might be already seen as a vicious circle, there are ways to breakthrough. Lastly, remember that everything is temporary and that you hold the power to change every aspect of your life if you put your heart and mind on it.
In today’s article, I’m going to share 5 insightful tips that should help you handle anxiety at work. Keep in mind that there’s no magic pill that you can swallow to instantly make things better. You have to become a fighter, a fighter that never quits until the objective is met.
Acknowledge the Cause
The first step to treating your anxiety in the workplace is to acknowledge what causes you to feel that way. Here are some of the most common factors that may trigger anxiety:
- Stress (of any kind): too much workload, meeting expectations, personal problems, etc.
- Emotional traumas such as losing someone close
- Side effects of medications
- Your thoughts (negative thoughts)
- Lack of self-esteem and lack of self-confidence
- Doing a job that you can hardly stand (sacrificing your precious time for something that you hate)
- Lack of sleep (sleep deprivation)
- Poor nutrition (lacking the necessary nutrients, which stops your brain from functioning properly)
- Confronting coworkers
Every time you start experiencing anxiety, stop what you’re doing and disconnect for a bit. Ask yourself – “How am I feeling right now” and “What are the causes?”
The worst thing you can do is ignore or suppress your anxiety symptoms (sweaty palms, accelerated heartbeat, a flood of negative thoughts, deep fear). “
“Treating anxiety is a process, and the first step is to become self-aware of its triggers. If you have a hard time defining what makes you anxious at work, try journaling and meditation.”- John Grunt, CEO at SuperiorPapers.
Don’t Fight It – Embrace It
When I told you to become a fighter, I wasn’t talking about fighting your feelings. Feelings are mostly the effects of your thoughts. Therefore, as I said, the first step is to become self-aware of the causes. The second step is to accept and embrace your anxiety. It may sound odd, but giving in is the best way to give yourself a break and gain the strength to eventually face those unwanted feelings.
Rather than trying to push your anxiety away, become aware of it, and accept it as it manifests. After you’ve embraced it, try your best to act differently by seeking quick solutions.
For example, if your coworkers treat you badly and you’re used to accepting their behavior as it is, try to act differently the next time a bad event happens. Answer back and establish boundaries. Let them know that you’re no longer going to accept that type of behavior. Break the cycle.
Confront Your Anxiety
After spending some time analyzing your anxiety, you should make the courage to confront it. For example, if anxiety overwhelms you when only thinking about public speaking, you should develop a smart plan on how to overcome that.
If you’re afraid to speak to your coworkers, simply go for it and see what happens. You have to understand that your continuous anxiety is much worse than any result that will happen once you confront it.
Many children are afraid of the dark. If they’re home alone and they’re hungry, they will have to enter the kitchen and get something to eat. Many would rather starve. However, when they decide to confront their fears and go for it, they’ll notice that nothing bad happens.
They do it once, twice, and so on, up until they realize that heading into the “dark kitchen” isn’t something dangerous. In the end, they’ll be able to walk in every room without light because their mental constructs have changed. Fear is gone, so they’ll perceive darkness as a normality.
Take Care of Yourself Outside of Work
Regular exercise, enough sleep, healthy nutrition, socializing with good friends, practicing hobbies, setting and working on personal goals, reading something you truly enjoy, learning new things – these are some of the most important factors that can significantly reduce your anxiety. The more complete your life outside of work is the stronger you’ll feel when facing anxiety.
Remember That You Are Not Your Thoughts and Emotions
You are a human being. You have thoughts and emotions, but you are not your thoughts and emotions. Thoughts come and go, just like emotions. Everything is temporary, and nothing stays fixed.
Of course, vicious cycles exist. Anxiety is not a persistent state of mind – it gets triggered, it fades, it gets triggered again, and so on.
You can try perceiving your anxiety as passing dark clouds. Every time they appear, acknowledge the fact that they’re temporary. They will keep coming until you figure out the solutions to your triggers. Keep in mind that one day, after you’ve faced everything that there is to face, those clouds are never coming back.
Use breathing to remind yourself of the temporary nature of feelings. Change your breathing – take deep breaths and relax. Stop thinking for a second and disconnect. Then think again…think about the temporary nature of everything in this world, and let your overwhelming anxiety crisis pass. When you’re feeling better, at home, start assessing the causes and create a plan on how to react differently when anxiety kicks in.
Avoiding anxiety is one of the worst things that employees can ever do. Avoided feelings do not disappear. They keep coming back until they’re accepted, acknowledged, and faced. As I have mentioned above, you need to fight to prevail. Treating anxiety should be your number one goal, and you should stick to it no matter what. Leverage today’s tips and tricks and stay strong and persistent!