Your heart is pounding, your breath is short and you have that twisting feeling in your stomach. This is perfectly normal if you’re about to deliver a big presentation in front of a crowd.
But what if those feelings of discomfort extend beyond public speaking? This is a tell-tale sign you could be suffering from an anxiety disorder.
But don’t worry! You’re not alone in this. A groundbreaking New Zealand study found people in high-pressure jobs report clinical levels of anxiety. Namely, one in seven women and one in 10 men.
Much of it depends on your workplace. It’s hard to stay cool-headed in an anxiety-inducing environment. In contrast, it’s way easier to keep your cool if your management is supportive of creating a conducive workplace.
Below are six proven techniques to help you cope with anxiety on a daily level. Learn them and take action. It works.
1. Identify Your Anxiety Triggers
Most people are stressing about long hours, tight deadlines, demanding supervisors, or being caught in the spotlight. This can depend on the type of personality you are.
But the million dollar question is, what makes you anxious at work?
Now, if you want to know the answer to this question, track how you feel and look at your behaviour patterns. Then pull together your observations into a list.
You never know what the day may bring. But if you put your finger on what makes your anxiety soar, you can finally look the beast in the eye and devise a plan to beat it.
Take this as an example:
Let’s say having to rush is your anxiety trigger and you have a big meeting ahead of you. Here’s how you can create a self-help plan to keep it together:
- Take some time away from the office hustle and bustle to prep for the meeting.
- Retreat to your cocoon 20 minutes before the event to review the agenda and make last-minute edits to your presentation.
- Get to the conference room five minutes early, sip on some water and let yourself feel comfortable.
It’s simple! Use this pattern to craft a plan for whatever your anxiety trigger may be.
2. Strike a Healthy Work-Life Balance
Just as you need a daily strategy to stay on top of your game, you need one aimed at achieving a healthy work-life balance, too.
Lousy organisation paired with a high workload and time pressure is bound to make you tired, unfocused and unmotivated.
You need razor-sharp work-life boundaries, so here are a few ideas for how to achieve them:
- Have set work hours, give 100%, and once you’ve moved away from work, forget about it.
- Invest in time-tracking tools to help increase your efficiency.
- Schedule fun after-hour activities you’re going to look forward to.
Along with this, do everything you can to create a stress-free work environment for yourself:
- If possible, use headphones at work to get that noise pollution down.
- Ask to be transferred to a desk by a window with natural light.
- Avoid too much caffeine.
- Do a makeover of your desk, office or cubicle.
3. Have Go-To Techniques When Anxious at Work
Yes, it’s true that everyone experiences some level of stress and anxiety these days. Yet, living with anxiety is beyond just feeling stressed out.
For people prone to anxiety, the feeling lurks around every corner and you never know when it’s going to hit. That’s why you need to have a set of available techniques to have at hand so you can hack your way out of an anxiety attack.
No worries. We’ll give you the lowdown. Here are some go-to techniques you can come back to anytime the situation calls for it.
- Do a set of box breathing exercises. Originally used by soldiers and police officers in high-stress situations, these breathing exercises will help you step out of the fight-or-flight mode.
- Practice mindfulness. Pay attention to the clothes you’re wearing, focus on how your clothes feel against your body, acknowledge the feeling of your feet resting on the floor.
- Get away from the desk and stretch, or better yet, get out for a 10-minute walk.
- Take a power nap if your company culture encourages it.
Give these self-care techniques a try. They’re bound to help you feel better fast!
4. Set Micro-Goals to Ease Your Workload
Just about anyone will freak out when work piles up on a large scale. Everyone’s been there.
And the familiar story-line goes something like this: You go on pressing yourself to meet the goals. The time goes by, and you look back to see you’ve been doing nothing but reinventing the wheel.
Now, add up typical anxiety symptoms, such as shortness of breath and tunnel vision, and what you get is a doomsday scenario!
So, it makes sense to break down your work into manageable chunks and chip away at the tasks one baby step at a time. This will help you build positive momentum with your work.
And while you’re at the task, make a few more tweaks to your routine so you can ease the workload and make the most of your time:
- Set realistic expectations.
- Keep ahead of your industry innovations, but don’t overwhelm yourself. Keep to a reasonable figure when attending industry events. You can make it once a month, for instance.
- Keep your goals always at the back of your mind, stay consistent and be sure to rack up gobs of positive attitude.
5. Negotiate Better Work Conditions
Anxiety triggers our fight-or-flight mechanism. Which brings forward a set of highly uncomfortable feelings.
With everything said and done, your anxiety will catch you unprepared if you don’t tailor your work conditions to curb your anxiety episodes.
Talk to your superiors if anxiety is interfering with your work. They’ll be more than willing to meet you halfway so the results work to everyone’s advantage. Sit down with your execs and try to negotiate a few tweaks in your working routine.
- Set honest deadlines. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
- See if your company can arrange a more flexible schedule with more frequent breaks.
- Opt-out of responding to late-night emails, unless it’s absolutely necessary.
If you’re reasonable with your preferences, odds are your team won’t have any problems honouring them.
6. Any Conflict? Take It on the Chin
Hate workplace conflicts? So does everyone else! There’s nothing that can burn you out as easy as a workplace squabble.
And it doesn’t take much for you. A colleague is rudely ignoring you, or the management is extending unequal treatment to employees, and then you feel it coming on.
The problem arises if your response to conflict is avoidance. Ducking the issue will only make things worse in the long-run.
So what do you do when you should deal with a stressful coworker, answer to your higher-ups after a lapse you’ve made or an unagreeable email lands in your inbox?
There’s one way to go: Muster the courage and take it on the chin!
Prove a Champ on All Battlefields
Why let anxiety get the best of you when you can have the tenacity not to let anything stand in your way to a fulfilling career and personal life?
The six proven techniques above will help you set a good example to a less stressful workweek.
When you have the tools and the know-how, there are no boundaries to what you can achieve.