Getting stressed out at work happens to everyone, sooner or later, and it’s perfectly normal. But if you find your stress to be persistent, irrational, sometimes even overwhelming, this may indicate an anxiety disorder.
Having an anxiety disorder can have a major impact in the workplace and, depending on the type of anxiety you suffer from, it may even limit your opportunities for progression or prevent you from enjoying day-to-day life with your colleagues. Anxiety may make you turn down a promotion, miss out on meetings or office parties, or cause you to be unable to meet deadlines.
First and foremost the thing is for you to realise that your anxiety does not define you and that there are a number of ways (however big or small) you can overcome this and keep being exceptional and memorable at work.
I’ve suffered from anxiety for slightly over 3 years and some of the tips I find helpful to manage it are:
- Educate yourself. Learn to recognize anxiety symptoms and how to handle them.
- Tell a colleague (or your manager). Although you may feel embarrassed at first, knowing that someone is aware and accepting of your condition can be hugely comforting and it may reduce your anxiety about the possibility of having a panic attack at work.
- Practice time management and be organised. To-do lists are your friend! They help you prioritise your work and schedule enough time to complete each task without making you feel overwhelmed. Also, filing and clearing your desk and computer can save you time and help maintain a feeling of being in control. If you know where everything is, you won’t have to panic about it when you are asked to look for a particular document or e-mail!
- Ask for help and communicate. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, do not be scared to ask a colleague for help… You can always return the favour later! If you feel like you have too much on your plate, tell your manager as they may not realise how stretched you are.
- Take breaks. Feeling like things are getting too much to handle? A short break, breathing exercise, or even a little walk around the building may help you clear your head.
- Set boundaries. No matter how much you love your job and how dedicated you are to it, try not to bring it home with you. Don’t check your work e-mail or voicemail after hours. Keep all work-related conversations you may have with your partner, family or friends brief. Learn to treat your ‘me’ time as your sanctuary, and use it to do whatever makes you feel good. This will help put you into a positive mind-frame, which in turn should help you feel ready to go back the following day. Read, listen to music, watch TV, have a long bath, go out with friends – anything that helps you feel better, as long as you try not to think about work once you get home!
“Anxiety is one little tree in your forest. Step back and look at the whole forest.” Unknown
Veronica Lacchini is an Operations Support Assistant for Mitie Client Services