Awareness Isn’t the Enemy: 7 Tips To Improve Stress and Anxiety at Work
Racing thoughts? Panic about upcoming deadlines? Worried that others don’t like you? These are common workplace anxieties that can work you up and make not only your work life, but everything else about life miserable.
Awareness can be an excellent tool, but it’s also the culprit when it comes to anxiety in the workplace. If your awareness comes from the outside in—meaning if you see deadlines as something exterior that you have to “face”—it’s much more daunting. But if you use self-awareness, you realize that work can be shaped to fit exactly who you are in the right company culture. These 7 tips will help you build self-awareness, which will ultimately help you feel less anxious at work.
To know yourself is to love yourself. Take a moment: close your eyes and take ten deep breaths in a quiet, secluded place. Once you’re relaxed, think about what your strengths are. Now think about how you can incorporate more of your strengths into what you do in your job. Are you a people person but not so great at Excel sheets? Find a way to reconcile your strengths and weaknesses in your mind. Just because you’re not a data person doesn’t mean you’re a bad employee. It means that you need to focus on your strengths and ask for help with your weaknesses. But asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness at all, it’s actually a strength in itself.
Build up Your Self-Esteem
Once you have compartmentalized what your strengths are, try to be your own hype-person. When you face a difficult setback, remind yourself that just because a meeting might not have panned out the way you had hoped it would, or the funding for a project fell a little short on numbers, doesn’t mean you lose worth. Instead, it means you look at your strength box and decide which of those tools you’re going to use to remedy the situation. Anxiety often grips us when we face failures and shortcomings, but knowing how to re-adjust your self-worth when stress hits is crucial to maintaining good self-esteem. It even helps to keep a mantra to whip out when you’re going through tough times. A mantra is a short phrase that re-affirms your favorite attributes when you need it most.
My personal Mantra is: “I am SO ambitious and I look great in yellow.” But yours can be any combination of self-compliments.
Mentorship: Be One and Find One
No matter what stage in your career you find yourself in, every person can benefit from mentorship. I strongly believe and support the idea of both receiving advice from someone you look up to, and also giving advice to those who haven’t yet experienced what you have. This reinforces the idea to remain humble while learning from others (no one has all of the answers, not even famous billionaires) but it also cherishes the idea that you already have a wealth of knowledge to teach and share, which boosts your self-confidence and makes you feel all tingly inside.
If you don’t already have a mentorship program in your company, I highly recommend going to your HR department and making the recommendation. If your HR department doesn’t pick up the idea, just find someone you admire at work or elsewhere in the field and ask them if they would be willing to mentor you.
Mentorship can sometimes make all the difference in the world when it comes to job progression and satisfaction.
Understand the Difference between Leadership and Manipulation
Having leadership above you that you can trust is vital in a positive company culture and reduces anxiety in the workplace. Stellar leaders aren’t going to look at failure as a reason to place blame on you, but rather, as a way to educate and move forward with lessons learned. If your current role doesn’t have good leadership that embraces the idea of failure, get out now. Also get out if they don’t train you properly and/or won’t offer you help when asked. Leaders accept that some people will need help from time to time, and manipulators will find only faults to send up the chain of command to prove shortcomings “aren’t their fault.” Leaders train their employees thoroughly and don’t rush the process. Manipulators throw you into a lake of troubles early-on and expect you to somehow save a sinking ship, and unless that is expressly stated in the job description, it isn’t your place to save something doomed to fail.
Take Advantage of Continuing Education
If you want to not only maintain your strengths, but build new ones, continuing education is a must. If learning new things makes you anxious about failure, return to number 4 and re-read. Nothing beats that “ah-ha!” moment when something new clicks and you learn something you didn’t know before. For me, that was how to build pivot charts in my first job. And now it evolves into how to build and maintain complex business relationships. Your quest for new skills can be as big or as small as you want, but continuing to learn and embrace new skills are excellent ways to keep your stress and anxiety at bay. Continuing education opportunities will improve your strength box to pull from in stressful times, build your self-esteem, give you new knowledge to pass along to someone else, and teach you how to be your own leader.
Ultimately, happiness comes from the self. If you know what your strengths are, hopefully you’re working in a place that cherishes your strengths, aids you in your weaknesses, and gives you opportunities to reach for more than you ever thought possible.
Take Your Lunch Breaks Outdoors
Vitamin D and fresh air are your best friends when you need to cool down or take a few breaths. Instead of spending your lunch break at your desk (which may exacerbate your anxiety) or going to sit in a coffee shop, choose instead to go outside and sit in the sun. Exposure to sunlight has been proven in countless studies to improve mood. Take a couple of deep breaths and fully focus on your surroundings. Take notice of the birds, the trees, or whatever is around you. Nature can be an incredibly cathartic reprieve from a hectic workday. If possible, go for a walk. Combining the great outdoors with a little bit of movement is the perfect way to calm your mind. Obviously depending on the weather, this isn’t always a feasible option, but when it is you should seize the moment.
Participate in Workplace Wellness Programs
Workplace wellness programs are increasingly popular in offices across the country. More than likely, your company offers some type of wellness perks. Regardless of whether you opt to take a yoga class, get a massage, or participate in a nutrition challenge, any positive choice you make for your health is a step in the right direction. Remember that physical health and emotional health are two sides of the same coin, and by taking control of your physical wellbeing, you will also be nurturing your mental state. An engaging exercise routine can be the perfect outlet for your anxiety. Research shows that wellness programs at work will build employee satisfaction. If you take advantage of the many perks that your company offers, then you will likely feel more engaged and excited to be at work.
Taking Control over Your Workplace Anxiety
At LifeSynq, we provide employers and employees the tools they need to thrive in the workplace. These are some of the strategies that we use with our corporate clients that will inevitably leave you feeling more self-actualized. Rather than focusing on the elements of your job that bring you stress, you should invest your energy recognizing your own skills and assets as well as focusing on self improvement.