Anxiety is never convenient. It sneaks up at the most inopportune moments, such as during an important presentation, a fun outing with friends, or throughout your average work day. Whether you’re having small amounts of anxious feelings or you’re on the brink of a full-blown panic attack, dealing with anxiety at work is an ongoing challenge.
While I usually encourage people to take an occasional “mental health day” when their anxiety is growing difficult to manage, most of the time you need to find ways to maintain and control your anxiousness throughout your work day.
I’ve personally dealt with almost every end of the spectrum when it comes to handling anxiety in the workplace. In both my part-time job at Disneyland and my full-time corporate marketing position, anxiety loved to pop in and say hello at inconvenient times. Through these experiences, I’ve developed some useful tips and practices that can help you manage your anxiety and get through your work day successfully.
Go on Mindful Walks
If you have the opportunity to go outside and take regular walks a couple times throughout your day, I highly recommend it. Not only does this help you get your steps in if you work at a desk job, but it can assist with clearing your head while embracing fresh air. If possible, you can use these walks as meditation opportunities for 5-10 minutes.
Listen to Music
If you don’t have time to go outside or walk around your office, put on some headphones, blast your favorite music, and focus on your work as much as possible. This can be a playlist of your favorite songs, something calming like classical, or even a playlist of some of your favorite movie soundtracks. I love finding playlists on Spotify, since they provide options for different moods, scenarios, and an extremely easy way to create your own list!
With the combination of music playing to block out any distractions (whether from your thoughts or in your job), and as much focus on your work as possible, you might find yourself completely forgetting about your anxiety. This may not last all day, but it can definitely distract you from your thoughts until you do have time to take a longer break away from your position.
Imagine Yourself Succeeding
If you struggle with anxieties that are more related to certain tasks you need to perform at work, such as giving a presentation or answering the phone, try and picture yourself performing these stressful tasks at your very best. If you feel you aren’t quite prepared to perform at your best, practice a little more or do some extra research. Taking the extra time to prepare yourself can make all the difference to help you become the successful image you’re creating in your head.
Use Grounding Exercises
When my anxiety was in its worst stages, I’d occasionally experience the start of panic attacks while I was working. When this happened, I would immediately go outside, focus on my breathing, and go through the following exercise I found on Pinterest:
Look around you.
Find 5 things you can see.
4 things you can touch.
3 things you can hear.
2 things you can smell.
1 thing you can taste.
This process helps ground yourself when you feel like you’re losing control. It’s honestly done wonders to help me calm down quickly to get back to work. Look online either through Google or Pinterest to see if you can find any breathing or grounding exercises that work best for you.
When in doubt, relying on your breath is always a safe choice for calming down any unwanted anxiety at work. Deep breathing, counting to three each way, or guided breathing exercises are all great ways to ease your anxieties. I highly recommend these two phone apps for meditation and guided breathing exercises. They’ve certainly helped me during some of my toughest moments.
Practice Mindfulness and Self-Care Outside of Work
The best way to maintain lower levels of anxiety at work is to continuously work on your self-care outside of your job. Practicing yoga, meditation, and working out are just a few examples of self-care that can help lower anxiety levels at a significant rate when practiced regularly. You can claim a free simple guide to daily self-care on my site to take the first step towards lower anxiety levels both at work and in your daily life!
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