How to Deal with Anxiety at Work: 4 Must Know Tips on Keeping Calm


Isn't it funny how we don't recognize how anxious we are until we're adults and the anxiety itself is fully-developed and entirely annoying? Have you had that realization like, "Ohhh, that's why I was that way as a child? I just never knew!" Whether it's thanks to the age of information or our own ability to diagnose ourselves, we finally know we're anxious. And that's not all that bad. Did you know that anxiety is the most common mental challenge in the United States? In fact, you've got upwards of 40 million people on your anxious side, according to ADAA. For one, you've got to admit that it's normal. You are not crazy, not at all.

In fact, anxiety is simply part of being a human. In the olden days, say thousands of years ago, it was a lot more difficult to survive. Hungry predators, poisonous shrubs, and all manner of danger lurked at every corner. We had to be anxious in order to survive.

But now that our world has evolved and we don't face the threat of a woolly mammoth on an average day, that anxiety becomes useless, and it eventually works against us, especially in our careers. So how do you fight the natural instinct of anxiety at work and stay calm? Check out these 6 tips on how to deal with anxiety at work and try them out ASAP.

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1. Take Control...Of Your Breathing

No matter what kind of anxiety you have, it probably stems from some lack of control. What is there to fear when you control everything? Unfortunately, life isn't about control and we don't always have it in our work environment. One thing you'll always have control over is your breath.

Next time you feel anxiety at work, notice your breathing. Are you inhaling at all? When I'm working on an important project I sometimes forget to breathe and sit there holding my breath in between short inhales. Oxygen is so important to our bodies and our brain power. If you're feeling overwhelmed and anxious at work all the time, try studying breath control and learn more about how to breathe (it's a real thing you need to learn!). You can start by setting a simple reminder to take 3 deep breaths in your phone or whenever you feel anxious. Just do it!

2. Do the Turnaround

What determines how you feel? Your thoughts. When those negative thoughts start coming in, it's time to do the turnaround. One thing I like to do when I'm in worst-case scenario mode is to flip it around and imagine the best-case scenario. Sometimes it turns out really silly, but it's a huge help in staying positive every day.

Can't get out of a bad thought? Try the 5-4-3-2-1 trick. All you have to do is count backward from 5 and think a different thought. This is a major coping technique for dealing with anxiety at work. Try it!

3. Manage Your Trigger Points

What sets you off at work? For me, there was this one terrible instance where the fire alarm went off and it was chaos. With so many people filing down 12 floors and the sound of the alarm ringing in my ear, I was approaching meltdown. So I took deep breaths, found a quiet spot to cool down after, and ultimately left to work from home for an hour to get back in my comfort zone.

Avoiding your trigger points probably won't help your career and in some cases like mine, you can't avoid them. So what do you do to manage your anxiety at work? Find a coping routine that works. Ensure that you have the flexibility to work from home occasionally or find a spot where you can take a break, even go through a meditation! Another thing you might need to do is set healthy boundaries with work and life. It's okay to feel anxiety at work. When you do, go through your tried-and-true routine of recovery.

4. Do It Anyway

Don't let your anxiety at work keep you from success. Sometimes when you feel anxious or scared about a presentation, sharing your idea, or asking for a raise, you just have to do it anyway. And I think the best things happen this way. When something that you want scares you, it's a signal that your desire is a reach and you are going to grow. That's a good thing!

Ask yourself when you feel anxiety about a situation if you would grow as a result of doing this scary thing. If so, go for it!

What helps you manage anxiety at work? Share your tips with us!