It’s 2 a.m. and you’re flat on your back in bed, thinking about the pile of papers in your office inbox. You’re worrying about the presentation you have in the morning, and whether it will cause your boss’s general annoyance to balloon into outright irritation. You wonder if you shouldn’t forgo sleep altogether and practice the PowerPoint one more time. Your heart is racing, your stomach is starting to clench, and you know sleep is impossible.
A certain amount of workplace stress is inevitable, but when anxiety permeates your personal life to the point of affecting your body, mind, and relationships, then it’s time to take stock of the situation. No matter how boxed-in you feel in your job, you are not powerless. By employing a few coping methods, your reaction to anxiety can be modified.
Put Yourself First
A solid night’s sleep, three nutritious meals a day, and regular exercise can go a long way toward mitigating the physical aspects of stress. Feeling at your physical best also promotes mental clarity. Arriving at work alert and energized can make attacking that overflowing inbox feel less like a chore and more like a challenge.
Work is limitless, but time is not. Stealing a half an hour before your day begins to list priorities, and then sticking with the plan, can be an efficient way to ensure you’ll get things done. If you have a large project, break it into smaller tasks and then consider what you can delegate.
Use Your Words
Communication skills are vital in the workplace hive. Learning how to express your concerns in a positive way, promote reasonable expectations, and delegate tasks without dumping will not only reduce your own workplace anxiety but will also promote a sense of office community. Check out these wise and proven communication strategies: http://www.forbes.com/sites/susanadams/2011/11/21/how-to-communicate-effectively-at-work/.
If workplace stress becomes chronic, or you feel unfocused, have memory issues, or feel you just can’t cope, consider seeing a therapist for a neuropsychological or vocational evaluation. A vocational evaluation may open up possibilities for a more exciting and less anxiety-inducing career. A neuropsychological evaluation may reveal a subtle and as-of-yet undiagnosed disability that could be the root source of your anxiety. If so, such an evaluation could be the first step toward documentation of the need for workplace accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act.