Anxiety can dramatically affect your productivity at work, the relationships with coworkers, and even your personal life. With your heart always racing and feeling you’re not fast enough or that you should do more, all these will definitely make you feel overwhelmed sooner or later. Studies show that 1 in every 7 women and 1 in 10 men working in high-pressure positions suffer of anxiety disorders.
Since we don’t want you to be part of that statistic, we gathered a few strategies meant to help take off the pressure and kick off work anxiety.
Keep it real
Feeling anxious and negative makes time seem to fly slower. Inducing ourselves the idea that we work too much or repeating that what we do is too complicated will actually make our brains believe it. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
If you are obsessed by the thought that you work too much, that is probably true. However, many times we tend to exaggerate the amount of time actually spent working. Studies show that only 6.6% of people are working 60 hours and over per week. However, much more people are claiming they do that. Even if it’s not completely real, by repeating that, our own brain starts believing it and feels accordingly. So, if you are working 50+ hours per week but keep saying that you work over 60 hours, your body will feel as if the latter was true.
A simple solution would be tracking your time in order to avoid overestimating the amount spent on work activities. Try keeping a work diary for a normal week and review it during the weekend. Set your inner voice right and you might manage to curb your anxiety.
Assuming things about other people’s expectations can be very stressful. Sometimes people tell us what they want, but forget to mention when they want it. If you are the overachiever type, the thought of having something to do will stay on your mind and increase pressure to do it as soon as possible.
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However, chances are that if the person who gave you the task haven’t set a timeframe, the issue is not time-sensitive. So instead of assuming and allowing it to consume you, the best strategy would be to always make sure you are asking the right questions regarding other people’s expectations.
Being unavailable is okay
One of the classic mistakes of professionals in every field is failing to leave work at work. Being very passionate about your career, you might be tempted to work overtime, or – even worse – make yourself available at all times. Taking phone calls and replying to work-related emails when it’s not a life or death situation will only drag you deeper into the anxiety cauldron.
Everyone needs time for themselves, and a personal life outside the office. If your managers don’t seem to be aware of that, you need to set boundaries. Put the foot down and take measures to balance your work and personal life. Once you take off the pressure of being available 24/7, you will definitely feel better overall.
Have realistic expectations
Pushing yourself to work longer and harder, and do everything perfect might be one of the greatest sources of anxiety. For many people, the idea that everything needs to be done perfectly can lead to blockages and procrastination. Our brain tends to avoid tasks it perceives as being too demanding, so making things seem like that won’t help your cause.
Instead, you would be better off by setting realistic expectations. Being aware that you don’t have to get everything done at once, or allowing yourself to perform less than perfect is the right thing to do when you feel that anxiety becomes unbearable.
Take a break
Breaks are essential when dealing with anxiety. They are opportunities to think about the things that make you anxious and find ways to solving them. Taking often breaks while working helps your brain relax and regain focus, but that might not be enough when anxiety is taking over.
Therefore, when you feel overwhelmed, it might be a good idea to call in sick and take a free day from work. Use that time to rest properly, get rid of the pressing personal matters that contribute to your anxiety, and plan your time for the near future in a less stressful way.
Bad time management is the best friend of anxiety. They go hand in hand. Every time it appears in our lives, poor time management invites anxiety to the party. Luckily, it can be managed with a little bit of planning 🙂
Organize your schedule to reflect your values, allowing more time to things that truly matter and getting rid, or giving less time to unimportant stuff.
Don’t forget about Parkinson’s law, according to which work expands to take up all the time it has been assigned. In other words, tasks will take up the whole time you allow them. Assigning too much time to unimportant matters is one of the most common mistakes, which ends up with increasing stress and anxiety.
Another useful strategy is dealing with the most important tasks first. Yes, it might be counterintuitive as we are all tempted to leave what’s hardest at the end. But time is finite, and the less we have, the more panic and anxiety grow. Realizing at the end of the day that you don’t have enough time for that important thing that really needs to be done is definitely going to push your anxiety up.
Be in control
The most important thing to remember is that you are in control of your thoughts and feelings. Changing these in a way that would be less harmful is totally up to you.
Use the strategy discussed in this article, or make up your own, but don’t forget to share your experiences with us!