Chris Harley is a mental health professional based in San Francisco. He is passionate about improving the lives of others and combines his PhD in Clinical Psychology with the latest holistic and wellbeing therapies to provide the very best care for individuals seeking to improve their mental health. Besides practicing as a mental health professional, Chris also loves to share advice about helpful mental health practices that can improve your wellbeing.
Workplace anxiety can be a real roadblock to career success and affects many employees at different points in their working life. The Alison Blog has teamed with Chris so he can share his four top tips for tacking workplace anxiety and help you reach your full potential at work.
Work takes up such a large proportion of our lives that when an aspect of it becomes less than desirable, it can have a huge impact. If your job is anxiety-inducing for you, it can have a knock-on effect into other areas of your life.
The workplace should be an environment where everyone can feel comfortable and able to thrive, and it’s only through addressing mental health that this can be achieved.
Whether you’re a business owner looking to create a more positive workplace culture for your staff or you’re an employee struggling with anxiety yourself, here are some tips for tackling workplace anxiety.
1. Talk it out
Talking is important, and it has more of an effect than you might realise when you’re dealing with anxiety. Being able to talk about what is worrying you can alleviate some of the burden, but it also enables you to let your manager know what’s going on so they can support you.
When you work closely with other people, it can help to have their understanding so that when you’re having a difficult time, they know why and how best to help you.
When we keep things bottled up, they can become overwhelming. In talking to someone about your fears, you may be able to see your situation from a different perspective, or they may have solutions for you that you hadn’t considered.
2. Request time off
Work makes up a big chunk of our lives, so if it’s causing you anxiety, you should take some time off to recuperate. Investing energy into your recovery and your mental health isn’t just beneficial for you, it also makes you a better employee – you can’t pour from an empty cup, and your employer will realize this.
Discussing anxiety with your manager is tough, but it can be even harder to request time off. However, most employers understand that your health is a priority, so they’re likely to be more accepting of the situation that you may think. It’s also important to realize that you’re protected from a legal standpoint when it comes to seeking treatment for health conditions, which can provide peace of mind that your job is protected if you need time off.
There’s plenty of research to support the fact that giving yourself plenty of regular breaks and a chance to decompress from work is essential for your mental health, but this is even more important if you have anxiety which can be exhausting, both physically and mentally.
3. Keep moving
Sitting down for long periods impacts our mood in a negative way, which can worsen our anxiety at work. So, get moving and give yourself a change of scenery throughout the day which can help lift your mood.
Wherever you work, taking the time every day to use your lunch break to get outside and go for a walk will give you the opportunity to move your body, breathe in some fresh air, and refresh for the rest of the day.
This tip is worth remembering for those situations where you’re in the middle of an anxiety attack too – remove yourself from the environment where you’re struggling and take 10 minutes to calm down elsewhere.
4. Reframe your mindset
Noticing your thoughts and worries is one of the techniques taught as part of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). With CBT, you confront your emotions and reframe them in a more positive light, to break the negative thought cycle.
CBT techniques are something that can take time to develop, but when you’ve mastered them, they can be extremely useful in situations or places that cause you anxiety, such as work.
Through this method, you’ll identify the problems or issues that cause you difficulty and become aware of the thought patterns you have and how they impact you. In doing this, you can learn to reshape the way you see these problems and learn new behaviors to cope with them.
Anxiety is challenging to cope with regardless of the environment, but particularly if the cause is something that you spend so much of your time doing.
Being mindful of your triggers, asking for support when you need it most, and taking the time to truly rest and recover will all help to reduce your anxiety in the workplace.
But it’s also worth noting what about your workplace is affecting you – is it the people you’re working with, the tasks you’re being given, or something else? If there are elements of your job you can change, such as requesting different responsibilities or transferring to a different team, these may help to remove the triggers and resolve the issue by dealing with the root cause.