Work-related anxiety can show up for various reasons. Maybe you have a new job, got a recent promotion, or were hit with a slew of new responsibilities that have you feeling frazzled. Or maybe you have a major project that everyone on the team is working on and you feel overwhelmed by the volume of work. These are times when you need to step up your self-care regimen to reduce anxiety at work.
Whatever the source or reason, you’re feeling stressed and overwhelmed. And if you’re like most it’s hard to separate work stress from other areas of your life which are now being affected too. If you’ve been getting headaches, having trouble sleeping, working through lunch, or feeling anxious overall you have to do – you might feel like taking a break to relax is out of reach.
Anxiety at work is something that can happen to the best of us. And here’s the reality: it’s actually more common than you may think.
Anxiety disorders are the most common form of mental health issues in the United States. According to data, 19.1% of U.S. adults had a form of anxiety in the past year and 31.1% have experienced some form of anxiety in their life. Unfortunately only a fraction of those sought and received treatment.
Overwhelm or anxiety at work is a topic that comes up often with my private health coaching clients. Studies show that seven out of 10 adults experience stress or anxiety daily. And today I decided to compile some of the advice that I often share with clients. Between addressing their health concerns, managing a career, taking care of their families, homes, and in some cases aging parents – many of my clients report that they are dealing with anxiety on a regular basis. Make these simple changes to reduce anxiety and gain more control over your life at work and home.
How to Reduce Anxiety at Work and Gain Confidence in Everyday Life
1. Start Your Day Without Technology
What is the first thing you do when you wake up? Do you reach for your device and check emails… before even getting out of bed? And when you get to work, do you immediately log into your inbox to see what’s waiting for you? But checking emails first thing in the morning may not be helping your anxiety at all. When your day is being dictated by others’ agendas, this is a setup for you to have a frantic day where you are always responding rather than being proactive.
Likewise, checking your social media news feed first thing in the morning and multiple times throughout the day may be the wrong move as well. Studies show that the more we use social media, the more we suffer from things such as social comparison, lower self-esteem, and detachment from face-to-face relationships. You can probably see how all of these things lead to anxiety at work. The link between social media and our mental health and well-being is clearly documented, especially in females and especially in teenagers.
If you want to have less anxiety at work, take a look at the way you start your day. Starting your day with less screen-time and more healthy habits can reduce anxiety at work and in general. So, instead of reaching for your device first thing in the morning, try some of these:
- Light stretching
- Make a healthy breakfast
- Listen to music
- Listen to inspirational podcasts on your commute to work
Taking time for yourself in the morning will give your day a more relaxed feel, and set the tone for a less anxious workday.
2. Exercise Regularly
While exercise may be the furthest thing from your mind when you’re feeling anxious at work, it’s a great way to ease your stress and overwhelm. Exercise is not just for losing weight or toning up. Small bursts of activity can also help de-stress your mind when things are feeling hectic. Many studies have linked exercise to reduced anxiety. According to this study. “running increases the number of new neurons in the dentate gyrus and decreases anxiety-like behavior.” What does that mumbo jumbo mean? If you exercise regularly, you are likely to feel less anxious. So, integrate exercise into your everyday life to reduce your stress level and anxiety. In addition to lowering anxiety and stress, slipping in some regular exercise at work can help you to avoid the effects of a sitting all day at work and help improve your overall health. Find activities that you can do at the office throughout the day to alleviate anxiety at work. Here are some that I recommend:
- Walk, jog, or run in place
- Climb stairs
- Calf raises
These are all exercises that be fit into your workday. And here’s a nice list that Dr. Josh Axe put together with 20 exercises you can do right at your desk. The key is to find exercises that you will actually do and develop a schedule you will stick to.
3. Take Breaks Throughout the Day
Work is never-ending. There will always be more emails arriving in your inbox. So checking your inbox every few minutes will ultimately derail your productivity and leave you feeling like you’re never getting anything done. Be sure to log off regularly and take a break away from the computer. Doing this will help clear your mind and refuel you for the next batch of tasks or round of phone calls.
If you’re able to, going outside to a natural setting is ideal. But if you can’t, still take a quick walk around the building or parking lot. Coming up for a break and getting some fresh air throughout the day is a must to help alleviate stress and anxiety. In addition to giving your mind some time-off, taking regular breaks is also great for your body. Be sure to give your eyes a break too. A general rule of thumb is the 20/20/20 rule: every 20 minutes, look 20 feet away, for at least 20 seconds. Giving your eyes a break helps reduce reduces digital eye strain.
4. Evaluate Your Food and Drink
If you’ve been living on coffee and processed foods, this may very likely be one of the triggers for your anxiety. Feeding your body a constant stream of caffeine, sugar, and processed foods fuels your mind for more anxious thoughts. While a daily cup of java is what most need to “get up and go” in the morning; drink too much and you may be putting your brain into overdrive which may cause or worsen anxiety.
Making a few changes to your diet can bring you back into balance. Instead of coffee, tea or soda, opt for water, caffeine-free tea, or sparkling water. When it comes to your diet, stick closely to whole grains, vegetables, and fruits rather than carby or sugary processed foods. Add anxiety-fighting foods into your diet as another way to manage your symptoms of anxiety. A healthier diet can likely lead to a healthier mind.
If your anxiety is so intense that it is disrupting your personal life, leaving you unable to function, sleep or otherwise get your normal day-to-day tasks accomplished – it may be time to seek help. Speak to your doctor or see a mental health professional. There is a range of treatment options for anxiety from medications to psychotherapy. Even if you are on medication or receiving therapy, inquire about some of the suggestions made in this article as they may be beneficial to building a holistic treatment plan to manage your anxiety.
The suggestions made in this article are not medical or mental health advice. If you are interested in a consultation regarding my services as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Certified Health Coach, send me a message through my contact page.