Having anxiety is similar to constantly having someone whisper all the bad things about you in your ear. You know they are not true, but somehow you cannot seem to shake off the feeling that you are not doing a good enough job. Having anxiety is a very real (and terrible) mental health disorder, and you should try to be open about it as much as you feel comfortable.
Having anxiety in a workplace, especially a new one at that, is perfectly normal and understandable, and here are a few tricks on how to deal with it.
Validate your feelings
What you are feeling is completely real. You are not making it up, not making excuses, your symptoms may not be visible or physical, and still, the problem is present. Mental illnesses are as real as physical ones, only people are better at hiding them – out of guilt, or shame. However, do not let that shame affect your work performance.
When you feel a panic attack coming, express it, externalize it, note it down if need be, and let your coworkers or manager know how you feel.
Over time, it may even start sounding weird, and by externalization, you can minimize it.
Work with anxiety, not against it
Once you accept that anxiety is a part of your life, you can start changing how you feel about it. Many people misinterpret anxiety as being a part of themselves, while it is in fact a trauma response or a way of thinking as a coping mechanism.
With an anxiety disorder, you need to be aware of your limits, so that you can prevent a so-called ‘catastrophizing mechanism’, and minimize the chances of having an anxiety attack.
You can do so by having frequent, but short breaks. Taking a minute or two off to go to the bathroom and splash some cold water on your face will physically displace you from your work station, and help you move away from the stress.
Also, a good strategy is to focus on only one task at a time. If it is convenient, make a list of the tasks you need to do that day, and go one by one. That will keep you from overstimulating your brain, and going into overdrive.
Shift your focus
When that catastrophising mechanism kicks in, and you start feeling overwhelmed, and like an attack is coming – a renowned mindset speaker Diane Demetre advises to disregard disappointment and shift your focus. It will probably be extremely difficult the first few times, but a conscious shift in perspective may just be what you need to override the oncoming attack. She advises you to find your happy place, and consistently shifting your focus to the positives of your life will help you.
The next time you start feeling overwhelmed, say three things you are grateful for, three things you love about yourself, and three things you want to have in the near future.
Practise good habits
Mental health is closely connected to your physical health. If you are tired, hungry, irritated, the chances of you experiencing a panic attack increase. If you are well-rested, stretched out, physically active, and have a snack regularly – chances of you getting a panic attack drastically decrease.
Mental health is preconditioned by routines. If you instil a healthy routine into your life and do sports regularly, it can only do you good. Have a set morning and night routine, a tight schedule, and try your best to keep it. Try to avoid going to bed at drastically different times every night, since it can send mixed signals to your brain. If you have a night routine that you follow, your brain will know in advance the time set for resting, and it will produce more endorphin, making it less likely you will have an attack.
As for food, try to always have a healthy snack with you, and to eat smaller amounts more times a day. A handful of nuts during the morning can help you stay alert, and let you go on with your task without the feeling of failure. Workplace anxiety, although a normal occurrence, can be minimized by the way you treat it yourself, and how you go on about your day. So, chin up, and do not let a mental health disorder influence yo