Today, work is challenging enough. You show up to a boss looking over your shoulder. You wonder about your co-workers and whether they are as sincere as they seem. You brave a stressful commute, both to and from work, only to find you forgot today they would be doing performance reviews. One thing most people have at work but do not readily admit to is anxiety. Each year the numbers of men and women reporting anxiety at the workplace rise dramatically.
But, you’ve heard all that before. You know all this!
This article is not going to talk about facts and figures. There are plenty of places you can find that information. What I want to talk about is what the heck to do when you are crouched down in the bathroom stall at work, sweating through a panic attack.
I’m that specific because that scenario happened to me more times that I can recall. Most of the time, I arrived at work with a vague feeling of unease. After a few hours, I am deep-breathing in my cubicle because the anxiety has gotten worse. All I can do is hope no one stops to chat until I can get myself under control. By the afternoon, a day of meetings and frantic emails from the sales team has forced me into a full-blown panic.
At least, that’s how it was for me.
How Do I Deal with My Anxiety at Work?
Your situation may be better or worse than mine was those years ago during my climb of the corporate ladder. If you’re worse, I am sorry, because I was in hell!
As you can see, I survived, and if you get anything out of this article, know this: the day always ends, and there is always tomorrow to try again.
The preceding paragraph may not be the advice you are used to getting, but I must tell you, giving up is not the way out of this situation. I will never tell you to quit to avoid stress. You must learn to deal with anxiety at work because if you can’t handle it there, you won’t handle it anywhere and soon, you won’t feel like leaving the house.
I am not going to let you off the hook that easy. From someone who suffers from anxiety to another, there is no cheating in this game. This advice is not the easy way out.
Remember to Breathe
I put this first, because of every pill or natural method I tried, learning to breathe was the best thing I ever did. Yes, I said, “learn to breathe!” What is the first thing that happens when you feel anxiety? Shallow breathing, right?
You must train your mind instead to breathe when it feels anxiety and panic. If you don’t know how to breathe properly, I suggest trying meditation or yoga. They will teach you to breathe from your abdomen.
When I first learned that breathing helps, I would go somewhere quiet, and sit with my eyes closed and practice deep long breathing. It was noisy, and I looked like an idiot, but I didn’t care. It helped! It doesn’t matter how long this takes, just keep breathing until you can start to feel a bit calmer.
Nowadays, if I panic or have an anxiety issue, I breathe in and out deeply without anyone around me knowing I am doing it. And, if I can say the dreaded word, I’ve become more mindful of my breathing always. Don’t wait for an attack to get your breathing under control! You should be constantly aware of how you breathe.
Don’t Play the Mind Game
Trust me when I say that when you start feeling unease or are having a panic attack, your mind is trolling you. You know that guy on Facebook who always has mean and rude comments about everything? That is your mind! Your mind is twisting everything in your brain and body and making it much, much worse.
Is your mind your enemy?
No, but it is used to doing whatever it wants, whenever it wants.
You have to get control of that thing and start it thinking how you want it to think. Aren’t you tired of being at your brain’s mercy?
I got tired of being a slave to my brain, so I changed it. I say it like it was easy, but it wasn’t. I am not going to lie to you; it’s a lot of hard and brutal work!
My brain still tries to find opportunities where I left my guard down and slips some depression or anxiety in there, but I don’t let it last long
Don’t listen to the Naysayers
What I’m telling you in this article? Everybody is going to tell you it won’t work. Your doctors want you to be a good little boy or girl and take your meds. Your friends want you to be as miserable as they are. People on the internet will supply you with every reason why this doesn’t work.
Remember everything I told you worked for me and I am no one special. I am no Dali Lama, Mother Theresa, or Buddha. I am a regular guy. And guess what?
I did it!
Not What You Expected
I know this is not what you expected. You are used to hearing 10-step plans to do this or that. You are used to getting advice from doctors who got it out of a book written 50 years ago.
I am just like you in a way. I am a unique being in the universe, but I have shared experiences with many of you. I have been there through the nights where you don’t want to live anymore.
I’ve been there. But, I’ve changed.
You can too.