7 ways to overcome work anxiety

Here are some ways to maintain a more balanced state of mind at work

Komal Anwar October 11, 2015

Feeling anxious at your workplace is perfectly normal and most of us experience it at some stage. Given the daily pressures, such as meeting deadlines, facing competition from colleagues and unwarranted demands of bosses, can often bog down your physical and mental wellbeing. The first step to relieving yourself from a stressor is to acknowledge its existence. Anxiety is inevitable when we have a rough week at work, where the situation is so taxing that it builds up and forms a stress response in the body. As compiled from allwomenstalk.com, greatist.com and mindbodygreen.com, here are some ways to maintain a more balanced state of mind at work.

1. Identify the trigger for your anxiety

In order to deal with work anxiety, first identify the root cause of it. Is there any particular colleague who makes you feel anxious and puts you under pressure? Do you find yourself anxious because of tough deadlines? Is it a certain task or a situation, such as weekly meeting, that makes you feel anxious? Figuring out the source of work anxiety will help you figure out the way to deal with it. 

Read: 7 foods to keep stress away

2. Use avoidance if possible

There are certain situations that are beyond your control. Instead of focusing all your energy towards them, it’s best to avoid them until you figure out a way to deal with them. It might be a helpful strategy to avoid things that make you feel anxious at work. For instance, if there’s some colleague who treats you unkindly at work, it might be a good idea to avoid that person without making it too obvious. 

3. Devise a smart plan

In the long term, it’s not advisable to keep avoiding stressful situations. So, it’s best to devise a plan. If there’s someone who has constantly demoralised you at work by being rude and dominating, then you may want to talk to them about it to set the record straight. If there’s a certain task that you’re unable to do yourself, then don’t hesitate to ask for help. Having a plan can help you overcome your anxiousness.

4. Learn simple meditation techniques 

With the help of meditation techniques, work anxiety can be greatly minimised. One of them is observing your breath. Simply give yourself a break for a few minutes and pay attention to your breathing. Another kind is walking meditation. The trick is to pay attention to your feet as they meet the ground. If walking isn’t possible, then plug your headphones and listen to your favourite song. A number of recent studies highlight the positive effects of meditation on anxiety, mood and stress symptoms. 

5. Give yourself an inner pep talk

Sometimes, an inner pep talk can help you tremendously. Reassure yourself that you can deal with whatever is causing your work anxiety. Believe that you’re capable of handling difficult situations. This can greatly boost your confidence. When confronted with anxious thoughts, take a moment to visualise yourself handling the situation with calm, ease and clarity. Try not to pay attention to the current mental state - just focus on the feeling of smooth-sailing through the storm. The technique is called ‘guided imagery’ or ‘guided visualisation’ and can help reduce feelings of stress.

6. Seek the help of your manager

While it’s good to manage your work yourself, there may be times when the experience of your manager might come handy. So, if you can feel the anxiety building up, it may be time to go to your manager. It’s the responsibility of your supervisor to help you handle problems at work. After all, if you don’t ask, you’ll never know the answer.

7. Look for another job

If the problem is persistent, then instead of getting disillusioned with your work, look for another job. This should be the last resort after you’ve used all the other options to reduce your work anxiety. If you truly believe the work environment is deteriorating your health and your boss is unwilling to support you, then it’s best to part ways. Work comprises a major part of your day. You don’t want to be in a miserable state while you’re there.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 12th, 2015.

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