Work-related anxiety may never go away—no matter what your job—but learning how to manage it can make a major difference in your health and well-being. Work-related anxiety can be especially insidious, because job anxiety decreases performance and diminishes both focus and energy. It can be a vicious cycle, where worrying about the job makes it harder to actually do the job. Poor performance then could lead to losing your job, which sets off another round of anxiety. Here are some tips to help you manage work-related anxiety for better health and better job performance.
Reaching for caffeine, energy drinks and sugary treats to boost your energy is a counterproductive strategy, especially when you are under stress. Overuse of caffeine and sugar can cause energy highs and corresponding crashes, which can make your brain feel foggy. When anxiety sets in, the most healthful strategy is eat a healthful, well-balanced diet.
The following drugs can cause anxiety, though you should consult your medical professional before discontinuing any prescription drugs:
- appetite suppressants
- asthma medications
- nasal decongestants
Although exercise is great for reducing stress, any movement can help release tension and anxiety. Take the stairs if you can, even if it is just a few flights. Get up from your desk and move around every hour. Try to do some stretches while you’re on the phone or otherwise engaged in your work. Stretching your neck with 360 degree neck rolls can be an excellent way to reduce tension.
Take A Mini Relaxation Break
No matter what your job, you likely have the opportunity to take mini breaks. You might close your eyes and take three deep breaths, or silently repeat a spiritual phrase or prayer. You may just take a moment to visualize a loved one. Get in the habit of creating private mini breaks and train yourself to use one whenever you feel anxiety levels starting to rise. Try to include deep breathing in your mini break and focus your mind on anything other than work and work related anxiety.
Anxiety can rob us of sleep, either by making it difficult to fall asleep or stay asleep. Natural remedies such as melatonin and passion flower may help you sleep without causing dependence. Other tips for better sleep are to avoid eating or exercising before bedtime, moving the television out of your bedroom, and scenting your sheets with perfume or cologne in a relaxing scent like lavender.
Put Things Into Perspective
Some jobs are inherently more stressful than others. Do the responsibilities of your job impact the well-being of others or determine if someone lives or dies? If the answer is "yes" (you’re a firefighter, EMT, or in some other health or safety role) then your responsibilities are indeed important. However, for everyone else, having a sense of perspective about your job will help prioritize your worries and fears.
Know Your Limits
Although we may like to engage in superhero feats, everyone has limits. Set your limits by creating a routine of taking breaks, eating lunch, and leaving work at the same time each day. Accept that many things are beyond your control, and no amount of worry will change that. Earning a livelihood carries some unavoidable stress, no matter what your profession, but your source of livelihood doesn't have to be a source of stress. If there’s too much on your plate, try delegating responsibilities, even small ones.
Cultivate a friend at work. Having a sense of support from a friend can go a long way in easing anxiety. Get out of the office and go out to lunch and talk about something not work related. Remember, that your job is just one part of life.