Coping with Anxiety at Work
Anxiety can and will follow you anywhere, no matter how inconvenient the time or place happens to be. At work, you don’t always have the option to get up and leave when you’re feeling overwhelmed.
I’ve only been at my new job for one week now, but I’ve already had to figure out a few ways to push through my anxious thoughts so I can still be productive. I thought I’d share them in case they can help anyone else!
Organize your space
It’s more than just keeping your desk clean and organized, which is definitely important. Set up your materials, your monitor and keyboard, everything you’ll need in a way that makes you comfortable and feel in control. Make your space yours.
Take it one task at a time
My job involves reviewing different files and organizing them in our system. At the beginning of my shift, I’m given my batch of files in my queue, and I’m expected to complete all of them before the end of my shift. Focusing on how much I have to do only makes it harder for me to concentrate, which just slows me down.
It’s much easier to just take baby steps and focus on the task at hand so you can do a good job instead of panicking that you don’t have enough time. Easier said than done, I know. It’s worth the effort, though!
Hype yourself up
I fake confidence in myself on a daily basis. I tell myself over and over again that I’m going to do amazing, that I’ve got nothing to be concerned about. While I almost never believe it, just the momentary distraction of forcing myself to be positive can put my mind at ease. Sometimes I listen to music that I know will boost my mood. Figure out what makes you feel excited to start your day, even if you have to pretend a little.
Pay attention to your breathing
I always recommend this because it’s one of the things that help me the most. If I can get my breathing under control, it usually helps to settle my stomach which always starts flipping when I’m anxious. When I get my body to relax, usually I can start to get my mind to also.
Don’t try too hard to fight it
Sometimes it’s just easier to accept that you’re going to have an anxious day than to use up all your energy to fight it off. When that doesn’t work, it can just leave you feeling worse. It isn’t always avoidable, and sometimes it’s there for a reason. It’s okay to feel it, and once you learn to work alongside your anxiety it becomes much easier to cope with.
Talk to someone
The idea of making a huge mistake is one of the things that give me the most anxiety. I’ve always hated getting called out for a goof, not because I’m afraid of not being perfect. I just can’t stand the thought of letting someone down. The good thing is people are a lot more forgiving and understanding of mistakes than we tend to think they will be!
If you’re feeling worried about your performance, having a quick chat with a manager or coworker can really help quiet those fears. I was in the middle of a file and reported an error incorrectly and for a split second my body froze and all I felt was sheer panic. Then before it completely took over, I forced myself to talk to my team lead. She just laughed it off, told me how to fix it, and reassured me that it was no big deal. It’s hard to bring yourself to someone else’s attention when you’re anxious, but sometimes that’s exactly what you need.
Take advantage of your breaks
I’m the kind of person who is more likely to just keep working than take my break. Once I start, I get into a rhythm and I’d rather just keep going than stop. We get breaks for a reason, though. Just having a few minutes to move around or relax can make such a huge difference. Take advantage of your breaks. Use them to do something that you know helps you. Something as simple as going outside, getting a snack, or listening to some music for a few minutes could turn your day around.
Take care of yourself
I’ve always been a night owl. Getting up early in the morning is such a struggle for me, but I could stay up til 4 am every night with no problem. It took 3 days for me to get that yeah, going to bed early is worth it.
I’m sure it sounds ridiculous, but going to bed at 9 felt so wrong and I hated it. It made all the difference, though. I was able to wake up easier, which meant I had more time to get ready, I was able to eat, and I went to work feeling much better than I did on less sleep. Sucks being a responsible adult, doesn’t it?
Having a job is still so new to me, and I know I have a lot to learn. This experience means so much to me, though. I’m determined to not let my anxiety hold me back or spoil it for me. I’m doing alright so far, so hopefully, I can keep it up!