Around three years ago I was diagnosed with a Generalised Anxiety Disorder. This actually made a lot of sense and explained my symptoms, especially in the workplace.
Working had become increasingly difficult. From second guessing every conversation, and my response to questions, to being convinced that my colleagues and managers were going to see through me and expose me as a fraud, I was avoiding any kind of social interaction with my colleagues, particularly meal times.
I had also begun to experience regular panic attacks at work. Shaking, crying, and rocking, while being huddled in the workplace toilets was my daily experience. And in my desire, and shame, to keep this a secret, I was working harder than ever before. As a result, I put so much pressure on myself, I was barely sleeping or eating. I actually became dangerously anaemic. Eventually this led to my diagnosis and I was able to begin to manage my symptoms.
There are lots of ways to manage workplace anxiety. Here are just a few tips that work for me:
- Talking to someone trustworthy at work– In my own personal experience, this has been the one thing that has helped me the most. Just knowing that someone there is looking out for me has reduced my anxiety about attending work by around 40%.
- Recognise the symptoms– For most of us, me especially, anxiety initially felt like someone else had invaded my body and I had lost all control. Now however, I have learnt to identify the symptoms as they begin. In itself, this reduced the panic I would feel whenever it began. Once I know the symptoms are coming in, I can take a break, step out of the office, or hide away in an empty room.
- Learn some simple techniques– So while being able to step outside is helpful, when you start to feel your heart beating faster, and your palms clamming up, you also need to be able to tackle these symptoms. Simple breathing exercises can help to centre your mind and draw the focus away from whatever was initially causing the problem.
- Try and be healthy- In general, I have found that exercising regularly can really help to keep my mind away from the thousands of “what if’s” that flood it daily. Of course, I only exercise in private, more people would lead to more anxiety in my case!
In general, the anxiety is still there but it is much more manageable. I hope these tips for managing workplace anxiety can be just as helpful for others.
How can Anxiety UK help with workplace stress?
If you would like some support on helping your workforce manage and understand anxiety then Anxiety UK can offer in house tailored training for corporate workplaces, schools and a whole range of other organisations. Find out more and submit your interest here and a member of the team will be in contact to see how we can support you.
To manage your own stress why not join as a member at https://www.anxietyuk.org.uk/anxiety-uk-memberships/ to access a year’s free subscription of the Headspace app or check out our recommended self-CBT guide “Overcoming Stress”
Ash Bartlett-Needham is a content writer and SEO working in Preston. In her spare time she likes to create anxiety based doodles to get rid of that nervous energy, and hopefully, help other people.
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