Most people have experienced work-related anxiety from time to time, but many of us tend to brush it aside as an inevitable consequence of having a high-pressure job. Learning how to deal with anxiety at work can help to alleviate symptoms and stop stress levels from rising even further.
Physical symptoms of anxiety can include elevated heart rate, nausea, sweating more than usual, a dry mouth and difficulties with sleeping. If this sounds familiar, check out our top tips for managing anxiety in the workplace.
1. Take a break. When you’re feeling anxious about your workload, it might be tempting to work through your lunch hour. Before too long, this can become a habit – but all too often, the anxious feelings don’t go away. If anything, you can find yourself becoming more stressed as you push yourself more and more. Taking a break gives you much-needed time and distance to reflect, leaving you rejuvenated for the afternoon.
2. Go outside. Whenever the weather allows, take the opportunity to escape the office for half an hour. Eating at your desk can mean you don’t take a real break, between the temptation to deal with emails as they pop up or answer the ringing telephone. Committing to going for a walk or eating outside on a dry day gives you the chance to top up your Vitamin D levels, get some fresh air and relax without the spectre of the overflowing in-tray hanging over you.
3. Don’t forget to refuel. We all know that skipping meals or filling up on junk food can lead to low energy, but when you’re snowed under you might feel that preparing healthier alternatives isn’t a good use of your time. Filling up on the right kind of fuel can raise your mood and energise you, enhancing your work performance overall. Avoid too much alcohol, caffeine or refined sugars and opt for whole grains and calming herbal teas instead.
4. Try yoga or meditation. Attending an after-work class is a great way to introduce yourself to either, but you can also bring their basic principles to work with you. Why not take five minutes to do some gentle mid-afternoon stretching or breathing exercises? If you’re not sure where to begin, check out YouTube for five minute desk yoga routines and guided mediations.
5. Talk about it. If your workplace arranges regular one to ones between staff and line managers, consider taking the opportunity to mention any areas you’re particularly anxious about. Often we assume our managers will see a request for help as a weakness or shortcoming, so we’ll give them the impression that everything is under control – missing out on any suggestions they might have to deal with issues and improve the situation. If broaching the subject with your line manager isn’t an option, try confiding in a trusted friend or family member about the situation that’s causing you anxiety.
Finally, don’t brush the symptoms of anxiety aside. If you’ve been suffering elevated levels of anxiety for a significant amount of time, or if your anxiety is intense, speak to your GP.