Do you have Sunday night dread or feel stressed out about work all week?
Work is a source of stress for so many of us, which may lead to work anxiety.
Does your stress come from the actual work, your workplace, coworkers, or simply deadlines? Do you feel a sense of dread on Sunday nights because the workweek is starting?
A little bit of apprehension before a transition — like the start of a workweek — is normal.
But when you feel a sense of anxiety and would rather do anything than go to work, it’s time to take a deeper look at what’s happening.
Here are 4 expert tips to overcoming anxiety at work.
Look at the gifts of your work.
It’s easy to get caught up in the politics, the deadline stress, lack of control over results, or even co-workers who drive you crazy. Despite all the challenges, there are always benefits and good things that come from most situations.
There’s a gift in each situation. Shifting your mindset about your current work decreases workplace anxiety.
There are situations that help you stand up for yourself, support your family, and are able to contribute to the mission of your organization.
Shifting how you view your job and your emotional state opens up more possibilities, rather than dwelling on what isn’t working.
You might feel some heavy resistance when you don’t see the gifts in your work. So, take some time to do some quick centering or meditation, and then do some brainstorming.
Take a piece of paper and on top, write, “What are the benefits of my work?” then allow the thoughts to flow. You can write this in a narrative or just words — there’s no wrong way.
When you’re done, look at this page, take it in, and put it up where you can see it. Revisit it every Sunday night.
Identify the specific situations that increase workplace stress.
Recognize which areas of work create the most stress for you. If you aren’t sure, track your stress levels throughout each day for a week.
You can rate stress levels on a scale from one to 10, or you can simply record on a piece of paper when you feel high levels of anxiety.
Once you have more clarity on specific situations, write each out on a piece of paper. Then write what you don’t have control over and then what you have control over.
For instance, if your stress comes from your interactions with coworkers, ask what part of that interaction you can control. You know you can only control yourself, what you say, and how you respond.
So, ask: How can you show up differently? How can you respond differently? Then, apply this change to future interactions.
Choose one situation to focus on at a time, clarifying what you can control and how you can show up differently, and then make sure you practice.
Check in at the end of the week how approaching the situation differently impacted how you feel about work.
Is your anxiety lower? If so, great! Keep going.
Sometimes, when we’re in a stressful situation, we want to get our tasks done as soon as possible. We can spend hours working without a break to even go to the bathroom.
The idea that “the more hours you put in, the more work you will get done” is just not true. You get tired as the day goes on, and your productivity goes down.
One of my favorite methods to take on projects is the Pomodoro method.
You create a block of time to focus on the aspect of your work. After setting a timer for 25 minutes, focus only on that task. Don’t allow email or any other distractions not related to your task to interfere.
When the timer goes off, you take a five-minute break. Repeat this pattern for four segments of time, then you take a half-hour break or longer.
The idea is to take regular breaks, walk around, get some water, or go outside. Not only will you get more done, but you also give your nervous system a break, which will reduce your anxiety throughout the day.
Celebrate your successes.
How do you reward yourself? What feels like recognition to you? Is it checking off things from your list, recognition or acknowledgement from your boss or co-workers, or just having fun?
Take a moment and ask yourself how you feel celebrated. Whatever comes up for you, do that for yourself. Don’t wait for others to provide what you need.
If it is acknowledgment, take a look at all that you have done, and recognize that you are amazing. It may sound odd, but you can even acknowledge yourself out loud.
If you enjoy fun, schedule fun activities throughout your week, not just on the weekend.
The idea that we work for the weekends is a sad way to live.
What if you allowed yourself to have joy, fun, and enjoy your week? What if you did things that brought you joy on a Wednesday? Or during lunch? How would that decrease your anxiety?
Overcoming anxiety at work can be done and even increases your level of satisfaction at work.
Looking at the gifts your work brings can help shift your focus to what is going well in your life. Identifying situations that cause you stress and approaching them differently can help shift how these scenarios impact you.
Scheduling your day with breaks allows you time for your nervous system to calm down and recharge.
Finally, making fun, celebrations, and acknowledgment part of your workweek instead of a weekend-only thing just increases your overall life satisfaction.