INSIDE: Wondering how can you be productive when you have anxiety? Stress can affect our work, more than we want to admit. But we’ve got some tips to help! Take a deep breath and let’s dive in.
Work anxiety is common, whether you work at home or in a traditional office space. Chronic stress can lead to physical symptoms that cause even more stress or even depression. It’s a vicious cycle many people dream of escaping.
Times have been tough. You may be wondering how can you be productive when you have anxiety. Here are a few tips for battling anxiety symptoms, stopping unrealistic expectations and setting goals that will help you succeed, regardless of the work environment.
How anxiety can affect your work?
Some people perform best under pressure. They thrive under stress. Others? Not so much. Many anxiety sufferers experience insomnia, muscle tension, headaches, jitters, dry mouth and more in response to challenges. You may feel brain fog and lack of focus. You may even experience a panic attack that leaves you so physically and emotionally drained that you just can’t work for a while.
Be mindful of how you feel, both physically and mentally. Keep a journal if necessary. Noticing the symptoms — and triggers — of your anxiety may help you get stress and anxiety under control more quickly. When do you experience anxiety? Is it always during the same time of day? Is it during meetings with certain people? When you’re asked to do something new? When you’re hangry and maybe have low blood sugar?
How to manage anxiety when working from home
It’s hard to totally get rid of workplace anxiety. Deadlines, performance reviews, differences of opinions with co-workers and even negotiating that freelance contract will probably always cause some level of stress. But there are a few things you can do to help tame anxious feelings and tendencies.
Cut anxiety off at the root. Oftentimes we put off what’s causing us worry. This just prolongs the situation and gives us more time to dream up outrageous, worst-case-scenario outcomes. Cut worry off at the knees. Tackle that task! Get it off your plate and out of your head.
Do a paperless brain dump. You may already be a chronic list-maker. But if you are making to-do and goal lists with pen and paper, you may be causing yourself more anxiety. The clutter and shuffling of paper when it’s time to look for that task sheet can be stressful. Try using online programs like Evernote, Keep and Google Calendar.
Turn it around. Anxiety is a slippery slope. Feeling anxious about feeling anxious is only going to make matters worse. Instead of ruminating on your worry, give things a positive spin. Instead of thinking, “I’m so nervous about this new assignment,” tell yourself, “I’m so excited about this new assignment.”
Use positive affirmations. I am a big believer in positive affirmations. They have gotten me through a lot. And remember … we become what we think! If you are always telling yourself you are going to fail, you may be increasing your chances of that happening. Think about where your current worry lies. Is it your health? Money? Work? Develop a short phrase you can repeat when nervousness bubbles up. Think: “I am healthy. I am calm. I am divinely protected.” Whenever you start feeling anxiety, repeat it until those feelings decrease.
Breathe. If you are like me, as soon as anxiety starts creeping in, you start hyperventilating. You start breathing more shallowly and faster. You aren’t getting enough oxygen, which can lead to headaches and additional tension. Slow it down. Be mindful of your breathing. Even on good days, practice deep belly breathing several times a day. Calm your heart rate. Calm your mind. Try some quick mindfulness and meditation exercises using free apps like Headspace and Calm.
Ask “what’s the worst that could happen?” Sometimes, the best thing to do is take anxiety’s control away. What’s the worst that could happen with whatever you are worrying about? Now, envision the next step. What would you do to overcome that obstacle? Empower yourself.
Get moving. Studies have shown that 7 in 10 people experience stress or anxiety daily. You’re not alone! Physical activity is the most recommended coping method by healthcare professionals. Walking, yoga and running require no special equipment. Just getting outside for a short walk to breathe and feel the fresh air can have a soothing effect. A low-stress activity like gardening can also get your blood pumping and make you feel more grounded and connected to the earth.
Believe in something bigger. Long-time studies have shown that spirituality in any form can have dramatically positive mental health benefits. Believing in something bigger, believing you are not on this journey alone, may help you find that inner peace you seek. And there’s no better time than the present to find faith. Start exploring what that means to you.
How to set reasonable work expectations
Often the biggest burdens we bear are the ones we put on ourselves. If you want to know how can you be productive when you have anxiety, it often comes down to checking your expectations.
You don’t have to do it all, all of the time. Setting boundaries can be hard when working from home. You may experience interruptions from family members — not something you would usually experience in the workplace. You may feel compelled to “multitask,” cooking while checking emails or folding laundry while on a conference call. Never giving one thing your full attention can spell trouble and lead to more stress. Inevitably you are going to miss something somewhere. You didn’t mix household chores with business before, it’s unnecessary to do it now. Tempting, but unnecessary.
Ask for guidance. Especially when working remotely, it can be easy to doubt your performance. After all, you aren’t in the same office and receiving regular feedback from your supervisor. Inevitably those thoughts creep in. I haven’t heard from them recently. No news is obviously bad news. Reach out and ask for feedback. Get a clear understanding of what’s going on. Establish a regular schedule for contact, preferably by phone or video chat so you can’t try to read anything into text. Even if your feedback isn’t great, at least you will know and can move forward to improve it. The unknown is often where the anxiety truly lies.
Give yourself grace. Stop punishing yourself, especially for things that haven’t even happened yet — and may never happen.
Get help. If you are suffering from chronic anxiety and worry, it may be time to seek the advice of a mental health professional. It’s not a sign of weakness. You have so much potential. Let a pro help you learn about the different types of anxiety and teach you a few techniques to help become your best self.
How can you be productive when you have anxiety?
With these tips, you no longer have to ask yourself how can you be productive when you have anxiety? Choose a few of the points that really hit home for you and incorporate them into your life. You’re sure to find it makes a huge difference.
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