Growing up with anxiety, particularly levels of social anxiety, made me think I would never be able to take part in the same life everyone else would. The mental image I created of a career; of the businesswoman presenting to a room of people, would set off complete panic and I thought I would always be restricted in what I could achieve.
Deciding to battle these feelings whilst growing up, there were a few key things that I have tried to stick to in order to make working in the big wide world just a little easier.
Stress and pressure at work can really accelerate feelings of anxiety. To break this overwhelming feeling it is really important to take a time-out. There are so many people who do not take sufficient breaks, do not take lunch breaks, or come back much earlier than needed. This time is essential to give you a mental rest and work effectively when you return. Try and leave your place of work if possible to get some fresh air or some sunshine (when it’s available!). Even a small walk can provide some much needed relief.
Talk to your Boss
It took me two years working in my current company to openly talk to my manager about my anxiety, plus about the medication I was on and the occasional work-related issues it created. It took me a long time to work up the courage because I was worried that he wouldn’t understand or that I would be considered ‘not good enough’. But when I had the conversation an overwhelming relief came over me. In fact, he related some personal experience and really reassured me with my concerns. If you don’t have a boss you feel comfortable speaking to, speak to your HR department; there may be ways that work can accommodate you to make it easier. This could include: working from home, different hours, more frequent breaks or flexibility around doctors’ appointments.
Don’t Take Work Home
Try to switch off at the end of the day. Don’t continually check your work phone for emails when you’re home or try to get ahead of tomorrow’s work. Move on to doing activities which you enjoy and which relieve your stress. If you have to do work in your own time because there’s too much to do, have a chat with your boss and work together to manage your time.
Be Kind to Yourself
I often get frustrated with myself when my anxiety gets in the way of work. When I have asked not to do a presentation because the panic sets in or I need extra support, it can feel that I’m not good enough and everyone else is doing much better. This isn’t true. Everyone has their struggles only sometimes they take different forms. Be kind to yourself; you’ve got this.
Ciara Stokes is currently working as Project Manager and wants to start writing and communicating more about anxiety. She believes in supporting others and being more open.