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Workplace wellness: Four steps for dealing with anxiety at work

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Anxiety at work

The modern workplace is a frantic world. As time goes on, expectations from both ourselves and those above us keep increasing causing our anxiety to do the same. Anxiety is a silent epidemic, its symptoms develop over many years and can range from passing feelings of nervousness to full-blown panic ‘attacks’. The secret is to catch anxiety early and before it becomes overwhelming. Get to know your personal early warning signs, whether it be tension in your shoulders, a clenched jaw, feeling irritable or upset…get used to’ tuning in’. As soon as you become aware of those symptoms, take action. Here are 4 steps you can take to help with anxiety at work.

Mentally stand back

When things become overwhelming it is good practice to step back and mentally look down on the situation as an observer to view it more
objectively. Whether in a social situation or in a meeting at work, see yourself as part of the whole. This can help give you a more realistic perspective.

Use some self-compassion

Anxiety at workIf your anxiety begins to build, step away and sit quietly, centre yourself and close your eyes. Take a few moments to imagine a gentle warmth in the area around your heart – imagine that warm feeling has a colour. Now allow that feeling to spread from your heart, radiating
out to every part of your body soothing and relaxing as it goes. At the same time create a warm ‘inner smile’ as you enjoy that feeling of love and compassion for yourself and all around you.

Go for a walk

If mentally stepping back isn’t for you, do it physically. If possible remove yourself from your stressor, even for 10 minutes and take a walk. The change of scenery and increased blood flow changes your brain chemistry and can calm your anxiety and boost your mood. Getting some fresh air by taking a walk around the block is best, however, this is not always possible. If getting outside isn’t an option, take a walk downstairs or to another floor of the office and centre yourself before returning to work with a fresh mindset.

Trace your fingers

Another simple yet calming exercise is one involving tracing your fingers. First, relax your shoulders then hold one hand up in front of you with your fingers fanned out. With the other hand slowly trace up and down each finger. Follow the movement with your eyes and as you move up and down, gently breathe in and out. Do this until you feel calmer – you can swap hands if you wish

Many of these techniques sound almost too simple but sometimes the simplest ideas are the best. The easier they are to remember when you need them, the better. It’s about quickly shifting your focus to reduce anxious thoughts and feelings.

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Managing Anxiety at Work

These were just a few of many anxiety-busting tips from Jenny Gould’s Managing Anxiety at Work.

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