How to reduce workplace anxiety
Even when your anxiety isn’t severe enough to be diagnosed as a disorder, workplace anxiety can still chip away at your productivity and your mental health. To make matters worse, it’s often hard to talk about these problems, especially when the anxiety doesn’t seem to have a clear cause.
The good news is that you’re not alone. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), anxiety disorders are the most common and pervasive mental disorders in the United States. For a sense of how pervasive it is, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) reported that as many as 1 in 5 Americans are affected by anxiety disorders.
And while there is no one-size-fits-all solution that will magically make your anxiety disappear, there are a few ideas and habits you can adopt in order to make your symptoms more manageable.
1. Accept that anxiety is real
You may think you consider your anxiety to be real, but most of us still act as if mental problems are less real and less important than physical ones. Here’s a question for you: how fast would you take a break from work if you suddenly felt your hand muscles cramp so hard you could barely move your fingers?
“Right away” is probably your answer. And yet many of us keep trying to push through our anxiety and keep working long past the point where our minds are barely being coherent anymore. It’s a similar situation — anxiety can impair your mind just like muscle cramps can impair your body, and they both cannot be identified just by looking at you; and yet we treat the cramps as being more real than the anxiety. Or perhaps deserving of more attention.
The anxiety is real, and it deserves attention. Learn to identify its symptoms, and learn how to manage it — if you need a ten-minute break to catch some air and recover your bearings, then go for it. Whatever you can do to manage your anxiety will help your mental health and your productivity in the long run.
2. Talk to a coworker you trust
This is part of a larger tip that is “make use of the people in your office”. Telling a coworker about your problems can be comforting, especially if they are someone understanding who you can talk to about your issues from time to time.
On the subject of coworkers, it is also a good idea to learn the names and functions of other people in the office, and establish bonds with coworkers who you can call upon to help you should your workload become too overwhelming — with the promise that you’ll return the favor eventually, of course.
When the cause of your anxiety is “there’s too much to do”, knowing there are people you can call upon to help you in an emergency will help you stay calm, even if you don’t end up needing their help.
3. Manage your time
Deadlines are a common source of anxiety, so stay on top of your schedule. That means both that you should work to meet your deadlines with time to spare, and that you should do your best not to overbook your day.
4. Keep yourself healthy
While dieting, exercising, and a regular sleep schedule won’t necessarily cure your anxiety, these healthy habits can reduce the severity of the symptoms. However, these things work differently for everyone, so you should experiment to find the best workout and sleep routine for you, as well as find the right diet for you. Finally, try experimenting with natural anxiety remedies, such as calming herbal teas, and CBD products.
By Steven Gallagher