Several of my current clients are struggling with anxiety at work. Some are nervous about getting laid off, while others work in vocations that are short-staffed, so they are overworked. So, below is a list of tips for dealing with anxiety at work.
- Focus on what you can control, not on what you can’t. You can only control your own feelings, thoughts, and behaviors in the present moment. Everything else is outside of your control.
- Practice mindfulness. When we worry about the past, we are living in our memories. We cannot go back and change the past. When we worry about the future, we are living in a fantasy, because the future has not happened yet. Instead, focus on the present moment.
- Breathe. Stress and anxiety activate our fight, flight, freeze, or freak out mode, aka our sympathetic nervous system. However, calm, deep breathing deactivates this system and instead activates our parasympathetic nervous system. This system calms our bodies down and helps us regulate our emotions.
- Exercise. Get away from the desk and take a walk. Exercise increases norepinephrine in the brain, which plays a big role in the body’s stress response. In fact, regular exercise can have the same effect on reducing anxiety as medication.
- Eat a healthy snack. Gut health is important to mental health, as serotonin, the brain’s mood stabilizer, is greatly affected by diet. Snack on colorful fruits and vegetables, healthy fats, and complex carbohydrates. Limit simple carbohydrates, trans fats, and caffeine.
- Get some sunlight and fresh air. Several studies have found a link between low mood and depression and vitamin D. Sunlight is a fantastic source of vitamin D. While outside getting some sunlight, take some deep breaths while on a walk.
- Focus on the facts. In her book “Rising Strong,” author and researcher Brene Brown talks about the stories we tell ourselves being powerful. They’re also usually wrong. When we feel insecure or anxious and we don’t have all the information, our brains will fill in the gaps to the facts. And these gaps are fictional stories. Recognize when you have created a story, get rid of the fictional parts, and instead just focus on the facts.
- Practice self-care. Get plenty of sleep. Drink enough water. Find a hobby. Make sure you are taking care of yourself to avoid burnout and other mental health issues. And if you need to talk to someone, talk to someone.
Thanks for reading,
DeAnne Negley, T-LMHC, NCC