Anxiety. After the events of the past several months, it sometimes feels like the air drips with this sensation. However, you can’t let it impact your productivity if you want to succeed in your career.
It doesn’t matter if you have a diagnosed disorder or suffer occasional bouts of panic. You need to exercise emotional intelligence if you want to get ahead. Here are seven smart ways to manage anxiety in the workplace and even turn it into a superpower.
1. Create a Serene Workstation
Human beings are both mental and physical creatures. Think back to the last time you had a wicked headache — you probably also felt more impatient and irritable than normal. Adjusting your working environment can help you eliminate minor distractions and stimuli that amp up your anxiety levels.
A pair of noise-cancelling headphones can help if excess noise makes your temples pound by 11 a.m. Cutting back on your endless java stream by adding a cup of chamomile into your daily drink mix can make you feel less jittery and on edge. Even moving your desk near a sunny window to take advantage of natural light can help calm you.
2. Minimize Your Triggers
Neurologist, psychologist and Holocaust survivor Victor Frankl knows a thing or two about emotional intelligence. He wrote that true freedom exists in the space between a stimulus and your response. Your power lies in that pause where you actively choose your responses to emotional triggers instead of reacting impulsively.
However, to take advantage of your power, you must first identify those feelings and circumstances that trigger your worst erratic behavior. The best way to do so is through mindfulness.
Learn to tune into your physiological reactions to stress by performing a body scan. Recognize symptoms like a racing heart and sweaty palms as signs that your judgment is too emotionally clouded to make any life-altering decisions. Give yourself the gift of time for your feelings to settle so that you can see more clearly.
3. Practice 5-Minute Mindfulness
A quick Google search reveals tons of mindfulness activities you can practice to check in with your physical and mental state. Gather your favorite ones and consider them weapons in your arsenal for managing anxiety in the workplace.
One activity you can do at your desk without anyone suspecting what you’re up to is mindful snacking. Take a square of chocolate and observe, sniff and feel it before tasting. Let it dissolve in your mouth, notating the sensations and flavor on your tongue.
4. Find Your Escape Routes
Some people have stronger emotional responses than others — that’s okay. Please don’t feel bad about your sensitivity. It can become a valuable career asset, giving you the empathy to understand others at work and making you ideal management material.
However, it isn’t always wise to let higher-ups see you cry or break. Sometimes, you need a private place to get a hold of yourself. Identify safe havens where you can flee — perhaps your car in the parking garage or a remote conference room that doesn’t see much use. You’ll feel calmer when you know you have an escape route.
5. Get Moving on Your Breaks
If your break time routine consists of surfing social media, you could be adding to your anxiety levels at work. You might view nothing but cute kitty pictures — or you could encounter the world’s woes.
Instead, do something to manage your physiological responses to stress. Physical exercise prompts your body to release endorphins, feel-good chemicals that reduce stress hormone levels and induce calm. Take a 10-minute stroll around the building even if you feel centered — consider it preventative medicine.
6. Delegate Some Duties
It’s one thing to occasionally burn the midnight oil at crunchtime. However, if you find yourself regularly pulling overtime without extra compensation or kudos, please consider scheduling a heart-to-heart with your supervisor.
This conversation does take delicacy and rehearsal — you don’t want to sound like a complaining Debbie Downer. However, it’s okay to say that you want to devote as much time to each task as necessary for producing quality work, which is why you are requesting their help. Ask your supervisor for input on how they would like you to prioritize tasks, giving reasonable time estimates for each one so that you don’t feel overwhelmed.
7. Take Your Vacation Time
Americans may be the most vacation-deprived civilization on earth. The problem is twofold. A third of Americans receive no paid leave at all. When coupled with wage stagnation, many folks can’t afford to get away.
Even those with more generous benefits packages often neglect personal care — including time spent out of office. More than half of Americans didn’t use the paid vacation time they earned.
However, you need that balance to manage your anxiety in the workplace. If you have paid time off, please don’t feel guilty about using it. If you don’t have this perk, consider advocating for changes, perhaps collectively joining with your colleagues to request it. Cage your request in terms of benefits to your employer — numerous studies indicate that time out of the office makes you more productive upon your return.
Manage Anxiety in the Workplace With These Smart Methods
Your reactions to excess stress can help or harm your career trajectory — choose your responses wisely. Use the seven smart ways above to manage anxiety in the workplace.