Want to crush it in your career but feel too scared or anxious to step up? Whether you’re worried about your workload, keeping your skills up to snuff, trying something new, or earning a promotion, we talked with five therapists to figure out the best way to handle your anxiety at work.
Recognize and label your anxious thoughts
“When we’re anxious or stressed, our thoughts tend to narrow and focus on all the negative outcomes that could happen to us,” clinical psychologist Sharone Weltfreid says. “We become so absorbed in the content of these thoughts that we can’t see beyond them. But as soon as we label our thoughts as ‘anxious thoughts’ or ‘catastrophic thinking,’ we distance ourselves from them and take control back. Recognizing that our worrisome thoughts are not facts reduces their power over us and allows us to enter a space where we can experience greater calm and respond most effectively.”
Take a few minutes to center yourself
Taking an intentional and short pause to regroup can go a long way when you feel stressed or anxious at work. “Take a few minutes to breathe deeply while you gaze out the window,” mental health therapist Jenn Stolfa suggests. “Be mindful of the nature you see. Try focusing on details like blowing leaves, the texture of the clouds, or counting the various shades of colors. For added stress relief, actually head outside to do your short mindfulness exercises.”
Tap into tools to manage your work
Is your anxiety the result of a full plate or managing many projects at once? If so, tapping into tools like a digital to-do list to streamline your workload and keep track of details may help lighten your mental load. “Prioritization tools can help you get into a habit of organizing your work so that you can operate in the most efficient way and your brain can switch off once you go home, knowing that everything is finished for the day,” Sarah Morris from Brain Happy says.
Try a positive playlist
Mental health consultant and specialist Adina Mahalli says that listening to music can be a powerful tool to help you overcome anxious feelings at work. “It’s a good idea to have a go-to song that you know calms your nerves and takes your mind off your spiraling thoughts when you feel on edge or stressed out at work,” she notes. “This is an especially useful technique for when you’re in public because it allows you to drown out the world and helps you to focus on reining in your anxiety.”
Ask for support
“If anxiety or stress has been piling up for weeks or months, it might be time for more support than basic needs,” psychotherapist Brittany Bouffard says. “Consider sharing enough information with your supervisor or team so that you can determine if not heading a huge new project might be best or even get the encouragement to take a sick or vacation day. Consider the professional help of a therapist to come up with the best new steps for anxiety.”
xx, The FabFitFun Team