How to Beat Anxiety at Work
I’ve been staring at this computer screen for what seems like several hours. It hasn’t been.
I keep getting interrupted. And with each knock at the door, I can feel my blood pressure spike.
How am I supposed to get any work done?
As I sit in my chair staring at the screen, my muscles tense. I begin to reach for my phone; maybe some music will alleviate this overwhelming feeling.
There’s another knock at the door.
The way today is going, I will need some expert help in how to overcome anxiety at work.
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My Anxieties Journal
Includes 1 journal page, 9 journal prompts, 4 mindfulness activities & support plan!
What is Anxiety and Why does it Happen at Work?
Believe it or not, anxiety is useful. As anxiety increases, we have a tendency to become more task oriented.
This is not completely linear, however! If we become too anxious, overwhelm can set in.
Performance then drops and we can become debilitated. With debilitation, there are several clinical diagnoses that could be made. Here are a few. For specific criteria to these disorders, refer to the DSM-5.
Social Anxiety Disorder (Social Phobia)
This disproportionate fear of social situations. The fear also must cause occupational or interpersonal impairment.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder
This is a more broad experience of anxiety. There is not necessarily any one trigger to it. However, the experience of anxiety incorporates restlessness, irritability, and lack of concentration among other symptoms.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
OCD is often overstated by folks; they have a minor compulsion and they feel they have OCD. That’s not the case. Folks with OCD have a compelling feeling to ritualize behaviors because of obsessive thoughts. This can be very distressing in a work situation!
Acute Stress Disorder
When you experience a traumatic event, there’s an onset of immense stress. From onset through six months, the proper diagnosis is acute stress disorder rather than PTSD. Trauma can have lasting effects throughout out lives.
There are certainly more anxiety disorders. If you feel that you may have a clinical disorder or your current situation is becoming so overwhelming you’re struggling to maintain, consider seeing a professional! I use BetterHelp- it’s quick, easy, and the first week is FREE!
13 Mental Health Bloggers Detail Their Surefire Tips to Beat Anxiety at Work
As a clinical social worker, I’ve helped dozens find ways to self-soothe. It can be difficult for us to find our own effective ways, however.
We all have a personal blind spot that can obstruct our ability to conceptualize solutions to our emotional wellness.
To help us see through these personal blind spots, 13 mental health bloggers will provide their best tips to overcome anxiety at work.
Evaluate What Your Needs Are
Heather LeGuilloux is both a professional therapist and a mental health blogger. She knows a lot about beating anxiety and has been featured in many great resources.
“As a therapist it seems even more important to make sure I’m handling my stress at work, since I am there to support my clients who are working through their own difficulties and anxiety. I try to remember that my own wellness is just as important and one of the biggest tools I have for helping others, so I make sure to take short breaks in between sessions to stretch or make a warm drink. I also take walks during longer breaks to clear my mind, make sure I am involved in regular supervision, and check in with myself regularly to identify what my needs are in that moment.”
Therapist and Blogger
Take A Time-Out and Breathe
Natasha blogs about mental health and living in recovery. She certainly knows what it takes to overcome anxiety at work in a healthy way!
What I love about Natasha’s writing is that she is real with you about her journey:
“Getting sober is the easy part, staying sober is the hard part and FIXING YOUR LIFE seems fucking impossible.
Unjunkiefied Isn’t The Same Old Shit That You Are Used To”
“This is a biggie for me. I am the type of person who gets stressed out extremely easy. As a woman in recovery, this can lead to bad decisions that I will later regret. At work, it’s not possible to simply grab a journal or go to town on a punching bag. I have had to learn not to take everything personally and be defensive because that’s how I always was. Now in situations that lead to anxiety and stress, I simply take a time out even if it’s for 30 seconds. Take a deep breath or two or three and tell myself that if this is the worse thing that happens today then I will be fine, it’s nothing. I collect my thoughts, refocus, and carry on with my work duties. It has done wonders for my mental health and letting my anxiety get the best of me.”
Practice Self-Care through Grounding and Mindfulness
Dr. Melissa Welby is passionate about improving people’s mental health. She is an experienced, caring, and effective psychiatrist who believes that patient care is optimized through a partnership between the patient and the physician. Dr. Welby has private practices in MIlford and Fairfield, CT
“I try to step back and recognize where a situation that is causing me stress falls on the spectrum of seriousness. Is it a life-threatening crises or a bump in the road? Most things that get in the way are bumps in the road that respond to self-care. When I’m taking care of myself stressors are easier to manage and move past. Did I sleep enough? Exercise? Eat? I use grounding techniques and mindfulness, may take several deep breaths and distract myself by doing a different task, or even roll my eyes and let out a couple properly placed expletives. And then I make a plan for how to deal with the situation and move on. Life is too short to get knocked off track by a bump.”
Dr. Melissa Welby
Psychiatrist and Blogger
Listen to Calming Music to Focus Energy
Zoe Thomson blogs about mental health having experienced depression and anxiety for as long as she can remember. After finishing counseling, using her blog’s platform has allowed her to find added purpose in life and connect with others.
“I struggle terribly with anxiety at work, not helped by the fact I work in an open plan office so it’s hard to shut myself away. I find when I’m stuck at my desk and can’t take a walk to a quieter part of the building, I put my headphones in and listening to calming music or a podcast to drown out all the internal and external chatter and focus my energy on one thing.”
No Light Without Darkness
Burn off Your Steam Regularly
Nia started Seeking Seratonin following a really difficult period in her life. She was “deeply depressed, drinking too much, binge eating and so anxious it felt like her insides were filled with wasps”! She now is her own boss- writing about mental health and her experiences full time.
“I work from home, blogging full-time and swear by taking regular breaks to stop myself from getting overwhelmed. During these breaks, I’ll go for a walk, make a hot drink, or simply go for a wander around my house.
Getting a workout in as soon as I wake up has also helped my anxiety (and depression) TONS this year.
Making time for self-care, such as keeping up with personal hygiene, eating regular meals, and getting the right amount of sleep, is also crucial.”
Breathing Exercises Help Release Anxiety
Kay of Rose-Minded has struggled with severe Major Depressive Disorder, OCD (Excoriation Disorder), Bulimia, and general anxiety. Today she is in recovery from some disorders and still struggle with others. She aims to help others know they are not fighting an invisible monster, and let them know they aren’t fighting alone.
“Feeling anxious at work is a common, but difficult problem to address. Everyone has different work environments and some tips work better than others. When I have anxiety at work I like to try breathing exercises, as long as it doesn’t interfere with my work (if in customer service, try these when you have some down-time or don’t have to address customers right away). To feel more energized, try breathing in slowly as deep as you can and then release about 2/3 of that breath and repeat. This is known to increase adrenaline (but may not help all forms of anxiety).
Another breathing exercise is box-breathing, taught to me by a former therapist. She mentioned soldiers in the army are even taught box-breathing to help them relax and focus in stressful situations! To start, breathe in slowly for a 4 second count, then hold your breath for 4 seconds. Exhale slowly for a 4 second count and then hold your breath again for about 4 seconds. You can picture drawing each side of a box in your mind to help you stay mindful during this activity.
If I am unable to complete breathing exercises, I like to make gratitude lists or to-do lists so I feel happier and more accomplished during my work day, relieving some of my anxiety.
In need of one more tip if you’ve tried these before? Talk to someone- yes, it’s simple but very effective. Don’t bottle up your emotions and expect them to go away, or better yet, expect everyone to understand why you are anxious. Share how you feel! Hopefully some of these tips apply to your work environment and help you throughout your work day!”
Rate Your Feelings throughout The Day to Build Awareness
Michelle Farris is a licensed psychotherapist and anger management specialist. She has her own private practice in San Jose, CA and writes to help others with their mental health.
A simple way to handle stress is to rate your feelings from 1-10. Start by identifying it at 1 and 2 when the stress is minimal. As it increases to a 3 or 4, pay attention. Most people can feel themselves getting upset but tend to ignore it hoping the feelings will go away on their own. The earlier you can identify what’s happening, the more likely you will prevent the stress from escalating into hurtful behavior. Focus on identifying one or two early warning signs like an increased heart rate or muscle tension to signal when you need to practice self-care. Create a self-care plan with a list of soothing activities to help you calm down in the heat of the moment.
Michelle Farris, LMFT
Mindfulness Can Help Reset Your Mind
Gardening Love is all about enhancing your mind, body, and spirit through the power of nature and ecotherapy. Mental Health is supported and discussed to remove stigma.
I try to take the time to have mindful moments. A simple bathroom break can give you the chance to gather your thoughts and do some deep breathing. Just 5 minutes deep breathing away from the stress can act as a reset button for your mind.
Becky @ Gardening Love
Use Personal Items to Help Ground You in The Moment
Meagan quit her job in 2016 because of her depression, anxiety, and addiction to self-harm. She has been working to de-stigmatize mental health through her writing on these personal challenges.
“Because I work from home, I have a lot of freedom when it comes to handling my stress and anxiety. When I’m stressed, I’ll use some lavender and bergamot essential oils in my oil diffuser, turn on my Himalayan salt lamp, and play meditative music in the background. I also like to have my healing crystals near me, such as amazonite, rose quartz, and amethyst. I know these things are kind of far out there for most people, but they truly help ground and relax me!”
Meagan @ Okay Now Breathe
Get Outside and Listen to Positivity
Faith has managed depression and anxiety her whole life. She intends to share what she’s learned through her mental health journey with “badass women to live their best lives”.
“Before I became a blogger I had a high-stress job working in administration at a University. The best thing I did for my anxiety while I worked there was taking an hour lunch break and spending that time eating lunch outside and going for walks. When I couldn’t get outside I listened to a lot of podcasts and ebooks about positivity. This was actually the start of my personal development journey and eventually led me to start my blog www.radicaltransformationproject.com.”
Radical Transformation Project
Set Boundaries and Visualize Calm
Anni is uniquely qualified to help you create your best life, not because she managed to make her own life perfect in every possible way, but because she managed to screw it up in every possible way and then figure out how to turn things around.
“My motto is to try everything! At the same time! Different things work for different people and the more tools you have in your anti-anxiety arsenal, the more likely you are to succeed. Here are a few of my favorite tools for starters:
A) Monitor your body for tension and shallow breathing
B) Balance work stress with self care
C) Establish healthy boundaries
D) Do your best to remain objective and avoid catastrophizing whatever is going on
E) Visualize yourself as a calm and confident person (I know this one sounds woo-woo, but just try it! 😉 )
With that being said, I have to say that what has made the BIGGEST difference for me has been changing jobs. Battling anxiety while performing tasks that you’re not into, with people you don’t click with, and under pressure to give more than is healthy is a giant suck-fest. But facing your fears so that you can pursue your passion and purpose is a battle that’s actually worth fighting!”
Solutions to All Your Problems
Experience The Outdoors to Clear Your Mind
Jessica has had a lifetime of experiences dealing with anxiety, depression, ADD and narcolepsy, as well as mental illnesses within her family. She created this blog to provide information, lend a shoulder, and share experiences to help others know that they are not alone.
When I feel my anxiety start to rise while at work, I stop what I’m doing and step away for a few minutes. I walk outside, take some deep breaths, close my eyes, and enjoy the fresh air. This helps me to clear my mind, and then I’m able to walk back in feeling much less anxious.
Jess is a Mess
Change Tasks to Rebuild Your Focus
Ben is a Clinical Social Worker and Addictions professional who embraces his personal experiences with mental health. It is through these two roles The How to Social Worker empowers others to grow.
Feeling overwhelmed and anxious at work is difficult to manage. One way that I’ve found to be very helpful is to switch tasks. This allows my energy to be focused into something neutral so my mental fortitude is rebuilt. If I can’t change tasks, I will change my work environment- maybe the client and I will go for a walk during our session or I could complete paperwork sitting in a different work area. These tricks have done wonders for overcoming anxiety at work.
Ben Barrett, LLMSW, CAADC
Clinical Social Worker and Blogger
Sign up & get instant access to the
My Anxieties Journal
Includes 1 journal page, 9 journal prompts, 4 mindfulness activities & support plan!
Overcoming Anxiety at Work Can Be Done
These 13 experts have found various ways to defeat those feelings of overwhelm at work. So what advice have you taken from their tips?
There are some clear similarities, yet each person has tied in something unique that enhances their personal values.
I encourage you to give these tips a try. Don’t be afraid to make it about you.
What is it that you need in that moment?
Inevitably, when we can slow ourselves down and make a meaningful change, we regain those feelings of self-control and overcome feelings of anxiety.
What tips do you have to manage your anxiety at work? Leave a comment for others!