4 minutes - enough time to have that afternoon cup of tea and snack that you’ve been thinking about 🍩
Stress is a normal thing to feel from time to time, but, what happens when you find that you’re in a constant state of anxiety? How can you restrain yourself from hitting the worry button prematurely and instead cultivate a mindset that is focused on rationalising a situation first?
If we had the “silver bullet” trust me, we’d be selling out Ted Talks all over the globe. But, the truth of the matter is, worrying and feeling anxious is something all of us will experience, especially at work.
What Dave worries about on a Monday may not phase Joanne who sits next to him, and what Louis stays up all night ruminating about literally wouldn’t bother Aliyah.
Here are a few tactics you can implement to help reduce worry and anxiety at work:
Figure out what triggers your worry
Is it a “1” appearing in your inbox? Is it coming to work on a Monday with a sea of requests and not knowing where to start? Or, is it feeling like you aren’t busy enough? Figuring out what triggers your worry is the first step to mitigating it, so spend some time thinking about (and writing down) what’s causing you to feel a certain way.
Also, be mindful of the kind of stress that you feel; is it excitement for an upcoming project, or is it dread? Do you look to complete the task straight away, or do you procrastinate? Write it all down so you can understand yourself better!
Also, external factors can bleed into our working day, amplifying things that may not have felt so big the week before. Keeping track of this (and keeping in tune with yourself) is crucial, both in and out of work.
Plan your day the night before
Even if you don’t consider yourself a natural planner, try this technique by writing three things the night before that you want to accomplish the next day. It doesn’t have to be extensive but instead gives you an action to work towards the next day. This can work really well if you get overwhelmed easily by new tasks. So, break them down into bite-sized chunks instead.
If you aren’t an “old-fashioned” pen-to-paper type of person, use the notes app on your phone - or a “to-do” list app on your laptop/computer. Trello is a great free tool to use as you can track multiple projects at any one time!
Communicate if it feels too much (for more than one day at a time)
If you are in a constant state of stress for more than 2-3 days, it’s time to sit down with your manager or a close peer to ask for guidance.
Stress, in bursts, is proven to be good for us. But, long-term stress (with no relief) can create more in-depth problems. Remember, it isn’t a weakness to ask for help, and communication is key to understanding and solving your relationship with stress and worry, once and for all!
Step away from your desk (or close your laptop)
Sometimes, taking 10 minutes to go outside, make a cup of tea, or simply get away from a screen is all we need to calm ourselves down. If you can go for a quick walk in the fresh air, this will naturally release endorphins and enable you to enter a pragmatic and rational state of mind.
Equally, closing your laptop (or switching it off completely) can help to ease the stress. Try doing this on lunch breaks or even mid-morning to reduce your screen time.
In summary, stress is natural - so try not to fight it every time it arises! Instead, use techniques that will enable you to harness it, instead of allowing it to consume you in your everyday life.
And finally - remember that a lot of the worry you feel isn’t for a life or death situation. Although this sounds extreme, sometimes reminding yourself that you aren’t dealing with a situation as grave as that can help you to stop catastrophising, and instead look at it through a rational lens.