Believe it or not, simply writing this blog induces feelings of anxiety within me.
I was never really the writing type growing up. In fact, I can vividly remember the essay assignments that caused many restless and panicked nights throughout my primary education and into my undergrad years here at UGA.
I do think it’s important to note that as a Communications Associate, writing is an integral part of my job–ironic, isn’t it? At this point, you might be asking, “Why would someone who hates writing so much choose a job where it’s the main focus?”
I see how this can be confusing, so let me clarify: I really enjoy the act of writing, it just gives me anxiety.
In my professional journey thus far, I’ve realized that experiencing these intense feelings of worry doesn’t lessen my enjoyment of said action, it just becomes a little more difficult to go through with.
Now, this is where I’ve run into some challenges along the way. For obvious reasons, we, as human beings, cannot avoid every single task or responsibility that elicits these worrisome feelings and must find ways to cope with them instead. That is why I’ve gathered a few remedies to healthily manage intense stress in the workplace.
You’ve probably been told that taking intermittent rest periods throughout the workday can increase productivity and alertness, but did you know that breaks are also great for interrupting your body’s inherent tendency to build up stress?
Keeping in mind is that rejuvenation looks different for everyone, here are a few different ways to stifle your stress using breaks:
- Physically move your body
- Walks, stretches, body shakes, & mini dance parties are all good choices.
- Get some fresh air
- Sometimes all you need is a few deep breaths of fresh air to ease your mind & body.
- Do something you’re passionate about
- Reading, drawing, petting puppies, etc. Get creative!
- Socially interact with others
- Catching up with friends or even simply having a positive interaction with a stranger can give your mind the break it needs to bounce back–especially if you work at your computer all day.
This is a classic example of “it’s easier said than done,” but a good way to reduce anxiety or extreme stress is to set those boundaries! To this day, I struggle with turning down certain projects or tasks because I want to be able to get everything done, but I’ve come to accept that it’s just not possible in some cases.
I’ve learned that being realistic about my workload, communicating when I’m taking on too much, as well as simply just saying “no” can make a huge difference in my anxiety levels at work. If you’re like me and need examples, here are a few ways to professionally set boundaries:
- “Unfortunately, I have a lot on my plate today. I can help you another time, though!”
- “I can no longer commit to that deadline. Is there any flexibility on your end?”
- “I’m not comfortable adding that to my workload/responsibilities.”
- The classic “no” never gets old!
- Can be substituted by a “no thank you” if you’re feeling generous
Growing up as the anxious child in my family, my mom would always tell me, “the best way to not feel anxious is to prepare for what you can,” so I’ve learned to do just that.
Much like taking breaks, being prepared can vary widely amongst people since everyone has different responsibilities and jobs to perform, so this list is not exhaustive, but hopefully, it’s helpful.
- Set realistic deadlines for the projects you’re working on. An important part of being prepared is having enough time to actually prepare!
- Arrive early to meetings and events so that you can acclimate to the environment before it starts.
- Practice that presentation, speech, or talking point until you feel really comfortable with it.
- Formulate an end-of-day routine in which you can prepare for the next day comfortably
- Finish any notes or documents that can come to a stopping point on
- Reply to anyone you haven’t gotten back to during the day
- Write down and prioritize all your upcoming tasks and their deadlines.
- Clean up your digital and physical workspace by closing out unnecessary tabs and windows as well as physically tidy up your desk so that you can easily get started on your work the next day
Though feelings of stress and anxiety are inevitable, they do not have to affect our job performance or the way we live life. If you’ve experienced workplace anxiety, just know that you’re not alone. Every day that you try your best, you’re winning!