Feeling a bit anxious in certain situations – such as a job interview or a client presentation – is common and can even enhance performance. But ongoing anxiety can take its toll on employee health and job performance. An anxious employee may have difficulty working with co-workers and clients, focusing on work or even feeling well enough to come to work.
He or she may even have trouble accepting certain kinds of assignments due to a phobia, such as a fear of flying or public speaking.
Strategies for calming anxiety
Even if you do not have an anxiety disorder, anxiety can be hard to handle. Stress and worries can keep you up at night. Some people find themselves not eating well or turning to drugs or alcohol to ease their symptoms. Anxiety may make you feel irritable, depressed and isolated.
So, how can you cope with everyday stresses in healthy ways? Here are a few strategies that can help:
- Work on being optimistic. When you catch yourself having a negative thought, come up with a healthier, more positive spin on the situation. For example, if your boss makes a negative comment about your work, try seeing it as a growth opportunity instead of a personal attack.
- Take time to relax. Make a point of scheduling some quiet time. Take up knitting, gardening, reading, painting, or another activity which relaxes you. Or simply savor the art of doing nothing.
- Bring the laughter back into your life. A good laugh releases tension. Spend time with people who make you laugh, seek out that which you find funny – be it The Simpsons or Monty Python – and remember to look for the humor in tough situations.
- Take actions that make you feel in control. Focusing on the things that you can control will help distract you from the things that you cannot control. For example, if you’re feeling anxious about your finances, take a personal finance class or create a budget.
- Exercise, eat right and develop other healthy habits. Adopting healthy habits can help you fight stress. Beyond eating healthy and exercising regularly, you can benefit from supportive relationships, getting enough sleep and practicing yoga or meditation for stress reduction.
- Avoid self-medication. Alcohol and other substances may make you feel less anxious in the moment, but that initial effect is deceptive. Alcohol actually increases anxiety in the long run and inhibits your body’s ability to combat stress.
The strategies listed above can be helpful, but if your anxiety is intense they may not be enough. Fortunately, there are many effective treatments for anxiety disorders. If worries, phobias or similar feelings are interfering with your life, you may benefit from some help. Call your Employee Assistance Program (EAP) if you have one for an evaluation and possible referral.
It’s not unusual to experience a mental health issue, such as anxiety. In fact, in a given year, mental health issues impact one in four people living in the U.S. Although many people may feel ashamed to ask for help, choosing to seek help shows courage, not weakness. With the proper diagnosis and treatment, one’s quality of life can improve.
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