We all understand how stressful work can be, but for those with anxiety, it can be unbearable. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America reports that anxiety disorders represent the most common mental illnesses in the US, affecting 40 million adults across the country each year. Here is a list of tips from psychologists and experts on how to combat anxiety in the workplace.
1. Ask for Help
When work is frantic, it is far too easy to say “yes” to everything, even if it’s too much for you to handle or you don’t understand how to do it. It might seem unnerving to speak up and ask for help, but it’s worth it to do so. Asking for clarification or help with a project can decrease your overall anxiety; it also shows your superiors that you want to do a good job.
2. Don’t “Triangle”
“Triangling” is the act of bonding with someone by talking about a third person. It’s a very unhealthy way to manage workplace anxiety as it serves to build up stress and tension instead of providing relief. It’s tempting to vent or gossip to a coworker about another person in the workplace, but it just creates a negative air around the office. To reduce your anxiety, try approaching the individual you are venting about or have an issue with and communicate the facts of the situation with them. It might seem difficult but telling them you’d like to find a resolution and want to create an honest workplace will make you feel much better.
3. Learn Everyone’s Name
Knowing everyone’s name helps to avoid “triangling.” Having a solid relationship with people in the workplace makes it easier to address issues with the original individual instead of venting and gossiping to another coworker. Knowing people’s names and what they do at work helps build stronger work relationships. If you forget someone’s name, don’t be embarrassed to ask again.
4. Make a List
When you’re feeling stressed and overwhelmed, taking the time to make a quick list of things you need to get done can do wonders. Managing one item at a time and getting the satisfaction of crossing each one off a physical list will give you a feeling of control over your anxiety.
5. Keep Hydrated
It sounds funny but drinking water and staying hydrated often will make you feel better. Keeping hydrated makes it easier to stay focused on whatever task you’re working on. According to The Journal of Nutrition, dehydration can influence mood, concentration and cognitive abilities—so go for a glass of water instead of another cup of coffee.
6. Take a Break
Go outside, take a deep breath and breathe. Getting a change in scenery and slowing down from time to time will help you manage your anxiety. Even a quick five-minute meditation break will give your brain a chance to relax and refocus.
7. Minimize the Caffeine
As mentioned earlier, drink a glass of water instead of a cup of coffee. Caffeine can increase your heart rate and physiological symptoms of anxiety like restlessness, shaking, sweating and difficulty concentrating.
8. Stretch, Stretch, Stretch
A simple stretch can go a long way. Even if you’re unable to move from your desk or have back-to-back meetings, there are a few stretches you can do straight from your chair to ease your anxiety. Back Twists are a good way to relieve tension in your back, just sit in your chair and place your right arm behind your right hip, twist to the right and hold for 10 seconds. Then, repeat with the left side! Shoulder Raises are also a great way to relieve neck tension. Simply raise your shoulders up towards your ears and hold for 10 seconds; then, relax. For a deeper stretch, do each shoulder one at a time, alternating five times each.
9. Take Advantage of Resources
Many workplaces offer counseling through employee assistance programs (EAPs) or are able to connect you to mental health resources right in your own community. It might seem intimidating and scary to speak up, but in doing so you may serve as a role model for others in your workplace experiencing anxiety too.