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Coping Strategies For Workplace Anxieties

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Managing Workplace Anxiety: Triggers Part 5

By

Akindotun Merino

Once we have identified what type of anxiety problems we may be facing, we can focus on how to cope with them and keep them from controlling our everyday life. Since anxiety can affect everyone differently, not everyone reacts or displays symptoms in the same way.

Therefore, they also cannot be handled in exactly the same way. Luckily, there are many treatments, therapies and self-help strategies available to the public that can be customized to our need.

Keeping some sort of diary or journal is a great way to cope with episodes of anxiety or distress. Writing in a journal allows a person to write freely and openly without having fear of being judged or criticized, as it will not be seen by anyone. This can provide an outlet for our pent up feelings and allows us to express them in ways we may not be able to do in front of others. A journal is also a great place to document things such as goals, thoughts, wants and desires that we may not share very often. Some people choose to keep their journal in one spot, such as at home or in a desk drawer, while others opt to carry it with them wherever they go. Whichever you choose, be sure to write in it often and don’t let feelings of anxiety build up before you can write them all down again.

Sometimes our anxieties can get the best of us simply because we let them by welcoming in the negative thoughts they bring with them. But when we use positive thinking and words of encouragement, we can change how our anxieties grab us. Phrases such as “I’m going to faint!” and “I can’t do it!” can negatively affect how we handle a certain situation or problem and can make anxieties worse.

READ ALSO: The Basics Of Performance Management

But to counteract these thoughts, we can focus on calming and soothing positive thoughts that can make us feel better about ourselves and whatever situation we have to face. By putting a stop to thoughts that can lead to anxiety or stress and replacing them with positive and encouraging thoughts, we are conditioning ourselves to permanently adapt our brain to this type of behavior and improving the way we handle difficult situations.

When we are feeling stressed or overwhelmed, it is important that we have a place we can go to that is just for us or a ‘me’ place.

Whether you are at home or work, find a spot where you can go to be alone and take a few minutes to think to yourself. Sometimes this can include your desk or office, if in a private spot, or maybe you have a secluded table in the break room you can retreat to. At the end of the day you might go home to a cozy chair in the living room or retreat to a couch in the den where you can relax.

Having a ‘me’ place helps us feel better about our anxieties because not only do we know that this place is meant only for us, but we can be ourselves in this special place and release any pent up feelings (this also makes a great place to keep that journal we started!).

So next time you walk into your office or go home at the end of the day, take a few minutes to find your ‘me’ place and designate it as such. Set it up with a couple of relaxing books, music or aromatherapy candles. It is your space, so customize it with things that will help you the most.

Setting goals for ourselves is always a good practice and it is especially true when coping with our anxiety. But we want to ensure that our goals are not so large and daunting that we scare ourselves away from trying to accomplish them. Focus on goals that you can realistically achieve and set attainable expectations for yourself. Start with small steps, such as changing the way we view a situation or how we react to something, and then make later goals to go from there. Keep in mind that some things you cannot change (like how you have to give a weekly presentation in front of the whole office), but you can make goals to change how you handle them (such as being well prepared and taking deep breaths).

We understand that you may not have shared with the entire world that you have an anxiety problem, but chances are you have informed someone close to you and sought help from them. Speaking with our family and friends about our anxieties and how they make us feel is a great way of gaining support and feeling better about your problems. Since you are among loved ones and people that know you personally, feel more available to open up to them without a fear of judgment or criticism. Feel free to seek their advice and help, especially since they know you better than anyone else. Chances are, you may find one of them suffers from the same problem (or something very similar) as you do and can offer advice and help that you haven’t tried yet.

READ ALSO: Establishing Performance Goals

As a fast-paced and busy working individual, we often overlook the benefit of a good night’s sleep. We end up sleeping less when we stay up late to finish a project or get up early to try and get our errands done. Sleep replenishes our body and gets us ready to face each new day by revitalizing our minds, but only if we are getting a fair amount of uninterrupted sleep each night. Without the recommended eight hours of sleep each night, our mind does not have the strength or ability to keep up with our coping strategies and can often ‘give out’ on us, which can only make our anxieties worse over time.

Some anxiety can occur from chemical imbalances in our body, which is why eating well and getting plenty of exercise can help improve our general anxiety symptoms. When we eat well, such as getting plenty of vitamins and minerals as well as drinking lots of water, we are fortifying our body by improving our immune system against stress and anxiety. In addition, getting regular exercise helps improve our mental clarity and concentration, which can be diminished when we are focused on our anxiety and anxiety symptoms. Exercise has even been proven to help prevent anxiety problems from reoccurring over time since it helps us improve focus and our ability to deal with stressful situations that can increase our heart rates. So pick up a piece of fruit and go for a long walk.

When coping with our anxieties, we know we have to start somewhere. Where do we start and how do we reach our ultimate goals?
When we decide to change our behavior or find a better way to handle it, start with a small, attainable task to focus on. Once we’ve accomplished this, we can set another, slightly larger goal to strive for. Once we’ve reached this one, we continue in this same pattern until we have achieved our ultimate ending goal, whatever it may be. For example, you have made a goal to overcome your anxiety of speaking in front of large groups. Start small with something you can achieve first, such as practicing your speech and verbal skills.

Then maybe you can practice speaking in front of a few people, such as family and friends. Ultimately you’ll find yourself able to speak in front of a large group of people, such as while giving a presentation or a speech. The key is in knowing that you can achieve your goals, and having the patience as well as motivation to work toward them.

Dr. Akindotun Merino is a Professor of Psychology and a Mental Health Commissioner in California. Share your successes and challenges:
Prof. Akindotun Merino
Jars Education Group
info@akinmerino.com
YouTube.com/akinmerino
Instagram: @drakinmerino: Twitter: @drakindotun

 

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Mental Health

Managing Workplace Anxiety: Triggers Part 5

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Managing Workplace Anxiety: Triggers Part 5

By

Akindotun Merino

An anxiety trigger is something that sets off our feelings of anxiety. Sometimes recognizing the trigger is not so easy, since a trigger can come on suddenly while others are well known and expected. If we can identify our own anxiety triggers, we can avoid them or even stop them from happening. But other times, if the trigger is unknown or not as obvious, we may have to find ways to just adapt around it.

Fear is a big cause of many anxiety triggers and symptoms. One of the biggest fears associated with anxiety is uncertainty or the fear of the unknown. Not knowing how a situation will result can make some people simply shut down. The fear of not knowing how a project went over or not knowing how well or poor a speech will be delivered can make some people simply avoid the situation, causing a lot of missed opportunities. Others may try to find out as much information as they can so that they can feel more informed, but if it doesn’t satisfy the ‘need’ to know, then they may just quit altogether.

Questions that make us anxious:

  • “What will happen if I do __________?”
  • “What will happen if I don’t do ____________?”
  • “Will this change anything?”
  • “Will something bad happen?”

When we hold in our feelings, we are not allowing our body to express how it naturally feels. This forces our brain to hold in our negative thoughts or emotions and creates a large storage bin for them to brew. Often times we suppress our feelings because we become anxious about how others may perceive them or react to them. But if we keep them inside, they cause more anxiety since we have to keep more control over them – which then leads us to continue to think about them and dwell on them. While we cannot always say whatever we want, when we want, there are ways of coping with our feelings and keeping them from attacking us on the inside.

Sample ways to express feelings:

  • Keep a journal.
  • Talk with a friend or counselor.
  • Start a blog.

READ ALSO: Dealing With Mental Illness In The Family

When it comes to speaking in front of others, we are allowing them to hear what we have to say and possibly pass judgment on it, which can cause us to take these feelings of judgment or rejection personally and cause anxiety. When speaking in public or in front of a group, we become anxious because we feel as though we are in the hot seat and cannot escape if we start to feel uncomfortable. We begin to fear making a mistake or having someone not like us. When we fear speaking up, such as to a manager or a coworker, we are second guessing ourselves and fear repercussions if we do not agree with them or like what they have to say. Although most of these fears are generally unfounded, they can be a strong cause in many cases of anxiety.

Some people strive to be perfect; and some come pretty close. Others want to be perfect in many areas, such as our work and personal lives, but feel anxious in the process or when we fail to do so. When we make a mistake, we don’t feel as though we did a perfect job, and can make us feel as though everyone is watching us (which leads to more anxiety!). Not being perfect, or not even being the best at something, makes us feel as though we are not good enough and that others may be passing judgment on us. This can cause further anxiety since we are obsessing about what other people think of us.

Remember:

  • The age-old saying -“No one is perfect.”
  • Perfection won’t make others happy.
  • Perfection will not make you happy.
  • Imperfection is how we learn and adapt.

Sometimes our anxiety can be too overwhelming to settle by ourselves. We have to learn what our limit is and how must we handle our on our own. Self-help methods and techniques are a great way to try and manage your anxiety and anxiety symptoms, but sometimes we have to realize when we need help from others and when to seek extra guidance in order to help ourselves.

Anxiety symptoms can be exhausting and can take a toll on us mentally and physically. While managing our anxiety is no easy task, it should not feel so overwhelming that we cannot function in our everyday lives. Anxiety can grow and grow if not handled properly, which can only make us begin to feel worse about our problems rather than seeking help for them. Sometimes the help from family and friends may not be enough to ease our symptoms and will need to be handled by a professional.

When to seek help:

  • If symptoms are too big to solve yourself.
  • If there are too many issues to deal with at once.
  • If anxiety is keeping you from functioning as normal.

READ ALSO: Trust Building At Work: Develop Positive Relationship

Words from the Wise

  • John Kenneth Galbraith: All the great leaders have had one characteristic in common; it was their willingness to confront unequivocally the major anxiety of their people in their time. This, and not much else, is the essence of leadership.
  • Robert Albert Bloch: Anxiety is a thin stream of fear trickling through the mind. If encouraged, it cuts a channel into which all other thoughts are drained.
  • Susan Jeffers: We cannot escape fear. We can only transform it into a companion that accompanies us on all our exciting adventures.
  • S. Lewis: Some people feel guilty about their anxieties and regard them as a defect of faith. I don’t agree at all. They are afflictions, not sins.

Dr. Akindotun Merino is a Professor of Psychology and a Mental Health Commissioner in California. She is the President of Jars Institute.  Feel free to share your successes and challenges:

Prof.  Akindotun Merino

Jars Education Group

info@akinmerino.com

YouTube.com/akinmerino

Instagram: @drakinmerino:    Twitter: @drakindotun

 

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Mental Health

Overcoming Adversities

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Managing Workplace Anxiety: Triggers Part 5

By

Akindotun Merino

Resilience development can improve our ability to overcome adversity at work.  It improves our relationships, assists in conflict management, and decreases the anxiety and stress related to our careers.  Failure is one of the common adversities that we must overcome.  How we handle our emotions after a failure is key to learning to turn a negative into a positive.

  Recognize mistakes. Failure: the state of lacking success.  Failure is unavoidable.  We have been trained to view failure in a negative light, but we must begin to realize that failure can offer us an opportunity for growth. Recognizing our failures, rather than ignoring, hiding, or blaming others for them, will relieve stress and anxiety and improve our relationships.  It will exhibit a level of honesty, and diminish the appearance of the need for perfection; depicting us as more approachable.

Fix mistakes. Failures open the door to improvements, both in ourselves and at work.   What we learn from our fails is more important than the act itself.  How can we learn from our mistakes?  We can first and most importantly turn the negative failure into a more positive plan for the future.  Here are some examples:

  1. If you make a careless mistake, you need to seek out more support or training.
  2. If you did not receive the promotion; you may need to seek out a different career path
  3. If you raised your voice to a co-worker; you may need to reduce your work load or slow down.

Taking the time to evaluate your changes and improvements will help you determine if they were effective.

READ ALSO: Trust Building At Work: Develop Positive Relationship

As an example: for the past three quarters you have worked on several projects. During each quarter, there was one project you missed the deadline on so you requested an extension. You’ve decided that missing deadlines is not acceptable, and have created a plan so that this is no longer your norm.

Here are some questions to ask yourself in order to determine whether or not your plan is effective.

  1. Have I managed my time well so that I didn’t have to ask for anymore extensions?
  2. Is the quality of my project as good as it was when I had to ask for extensions?

Avoid making the same mistakes in the future. Learning from mistakes should not be just a one-time thing. If you have in fact learned something, it becomes a part of you; meaning that you will carry it forward with you.

What are some steps to help you avoid the same pit-holes in the future?

  • Give your complete attention to what you are working on
  • Take breaks to give your brain a chance to re-group
  • Don’t get easily distracted
  • Keep track of your progress
  • Think ahead
  • Consult with your network

Stress management helps you overcome adversity. How can you be mentally resilient if you are physically worn out? You can’t. Good habits outside of the workplace will affect your ability to manage stress in the workplace, which will in turn help increase your resilience.

 Exercising: You either love it or hate it. For those of you who hate it, exercise is that dreaded thing to be avoided at all costs. For the people who love it, it’s a euphoric experience that makes you feel good and look good. Loving exercise can be learned. Once you start, it has an addictive property. It makes you feel physically and mentally better. It may take a while to get to this point, but if you commit to exercising, you will soon feel the benefits.

Ways to stay motivated to exercise on a regular basis include changing your perspective on exercise, setting goal, creating a regular workout time and endeavor to make it fun and varied. Benefits of exercising include fitness, feeling of well being, sleeping better, feeling alert, being relaxed, weight management and appearance.

You can exercise as much as you want, but you truly will not be a healthy person without eating well. Eating well is what gives us energy throughout the day and keeps our minds and bodies functioning properly. How many calories you should consume each day is dependent on your sex, age, and activity level. This can be determined by a doctor, if needed. Whenever you can, try to eat healthy. Make healthy food decisions and remember that the better you eat, the better you will feel. It is important to set yourself up for success. Make it easy on yourself to follow a healthy diet. Ways to do this include:

  • Prepare your own meals
  • Make the right changes
  • Simplify your meals
  • Read product labels
  • Drink lots of water
  • Focus on how you feel after eating certain foods

Sleep is the thing we all wish we had more of. Sleep is so incredibly important to our health. Getting proper sleep keeps us mentally aware and physically healthy. As an adult, 7 to 9 hours is considered the ideal amount of sleep. This may seem impossible to some, but if you put in the effort, you can accomplish this. Sleep provides the body with so many benefits. It is not something that should be skimped on.

READ ALSO: Trust Building At Work: Transparent Communication

Consequences of not enough sleep include memory problems, depression, weakened immune system, increase in perception of pain and increased risk of chronic diseases. Here are some habits to improve your sleep health:

  • Be consistent going to bed the same time each night
  • Be consistent eating at the same time each morning
  • Keep the bedroom quiet and dark
  • Avoid large meals and caffeine before going to bed
  • Exercise

An important aspect of taking your health into your own hands is working at your own pace. You never want to jump right in and over work yourself. It will only cause you to become exhausted and discouraged. Working too slow, on the other hand, can leave you with minimal results. It is important to find a pace that fits your body and your needs. Through trial-and-error, you will discover the correct pace for you. Once you find that pace, increase it gradually. There is no need to go from 0 to 100, but once your body becomes content with a routine it is time to move forward.

Dr. Akindotun Merino is a Professor of Psychology and a Mental Health Commissioner in California. She is the President of Jars Institute.  Feel free to share your successes and challenges:

Prof.  Akindotun Merino

Jars Education Group

info@akinmerino.com

YouTube.com/akinmerino

Instagram: @drakinmerino:    Twitter: @drakindotun

 

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Mental Health

Trust Building At Work: Develop Positive Relationship

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Managing Workplace Anxiety: Triggers Part 5

By

Akindotun Merino

As humans, we are not designed to be completely alone. Whether at home or work, for your mental health and to build resiliency, it is important to develop positive, non-toxic relationships with others.

Getting to know colleagues is vital to developing positive relationships. When at work, do you ever feel like the world is sitting on your shoulders? There is no need to let this happen. Building and maintaining a support network will benefit you extensively. It will change your life for the better and make dealing with uncomfortable situations, and accomplishing new tasks easier.  When we think of a support network, it’s usually family and friends that come to mind, but getting to know your colleagues and building a network at work can be just as beneficial.

Before building a support network of your colleagues you must get to know them as individuals.

Here are some tips for getting to know them:

  • Use an icebreaker
  • Remember names
  • Find common interests
  • Spend time together outside of work

Establishing new relationships or strengthening old ones doesn’t mean anything goes. You want these relationships to be positive for you and the other party. Part of having a positive relationship is having and managing boundaries. For some, talking about boundaries is addressing the elephant in the room, but you want to be honest and upfront about them so no one gets hurt.

How can I set boundaries?

  • Recognize your limits
  • Clearly communicate your boundaries
  • Be aware of your feelings
  • Let your actions speak louder than your words
  • Address any breach of boundaries set

It goes without saying, that in order to develop relationships, you have to collaborate at some point. Whether it be working on a particular project together, or working in the same department.

READ ALSO: Trust Building At Work: Transparent Communication

Collaborating with others can be a valuable experience, but can also be stressful if you don’t understand the concept of working with others. Each person is different and has a different personality. Learn how to work with different personality types. Some of these include:

  • Extroverted and playful: These people require more attention and verbal approval than some other personalities.
  • Assertive leaders: This type of personality requires loyalty and recognition of achievements.
  • Meticulous planners: Meticulous people need the space to complete the tasks, and their perfectionist habits require understanding.
  • Peacemakers: Peacemakers work to avoid and settle conflict. They require a calm work environment and appreciation for their efforts.

Thanking others for their help is not hard to do. It doesn’t have to be elaborate. A simple, “Thank you”, goes further than you know. Whether you are thanking someone for volunteering to help with something that is not part of their required duties, or thanking them for what they get paid to do, it is always appreciated, and can build morale.

While the words, “thank you” are sufficient, it’s understandable that sometimes you want to do a little more. Below are some ideas on things you can do.

  • Free lunch
  • Opportunities of career advancement
  • Peer recognition program
  • Give employee extra time off
  • Bonus
  • Company branded merchandise
  • Gift card
  • Movie passes

READ ALSO: Change: Acceptance And Management

Dr. Akindotun Merino is a Professor of Psychology and a Mental Health Commissioner in California. She is the President of Jars Institute.  Feel free to share your successes and challenges:

Prof.  Akindotun Merino

Jars Education Group

info@akinmerino.com

YouTube.com/akinmerino

Instagram: @drakinmerino:    Twitter: @drakindotun

 

Read more authentic news on our social media platforms 

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