When working full-time jobs, Americans spend more than a third of the day, five days a week in the workplace. That’s everyday for about 262 days of the year. In the deadline-driven environment of the modern workplace, anxiety and stress are natural parts of the job.
While some people thrive under pressure, others may feel the effects of deteriorating mental health in the workplace. It’s no surprise then that dealing with anxiety is a multi-million dollar industry. What follows are some simple but effective strategies for dealing with anxiety at work.
1. Take a break
There’s a reason breaks are mandated by law in many places. Taking a step away, if only mentally, is a vital tool for total health and well-being. The experts recommend taking a short break every 52 minutes. Make breaks part of your routine and stick to them—even when facing deadlines. Short breaks of 5 to 10 minutes taken at regular intervals have been scientifically proven to help enable people to work more efficiently and better manage time.
You may see headlines proclaiming that “sitting is the new smoking” and highlighting the damaging impacts of a sedentary lifestyle. Working, especially working at a computer, contorts our bodies in unnatural positions. Many Fortune-500 companies have recognized this and invested in yoga and massage as part of their health and benefits packages. Make stretching part of your work routine to relieve tension before it builds up. Find a tutorial for workplace stretching online.
3. Take in nature
Nature’s beauty and harmony have inspired artists, religions and philosophers since time immemorial, so why not take a look? From its mighty mountains and raging seas to the simplicity of a ladybug on a blade of grass, appreciating nature connects us with our role within the larger scheme of things and gives us useful perspective. Even if you don’t have an ocean view from your desk or cubicle, take a minute to appreciate a gentle breeze, clouds in the sky, leaves on the trees, or even just a lonely insect shuffling across the ground.
4. Take a walk
A breath of fresh air is a great way on how to deal with anxiety at work. Getting active can keep the blood flowing, while seeing different people and scenery stimulates your mind. The benefits of walking have also been tied to fighting depression, anxiety, cancer, heart disease, pain and diabetes. Whenever possible, in the workplace or outside, take a walk.
Meditation has been growing steadily in popularity since the 1960s. The arrival of the smartphone has made guided meditation available to everyone. Meditation apps and guided meditation sessions have even been prescribed by mental health professionals to reduce stress and anxiety.
You can practice this easy and simple solution for anxiety at home, at work or during your commute There are a range of subscription, paid and even free services in the burgeoning meditation marketplace, with customizable options for sessions lasting as little as 5 or 10 minutes. It has never been simpler to find an option that suits your lifestyle.
6. Separate home life from work life
In many professions, being available 24-7 has become the norm as all kinds of workers are expected to bring their work home with them. Home life and its many stresses, from pets to automobiles to orthodontia, can also easily impact our work. This is why you should develop boundaries between your private and professional life wherever possible. It is just as important to maintain those boundaries when things are going well, so that they are easier to control when things are not. The separation is key in keeping both spheres happy and healthy.
7. Change your routine
Mixing things up can be a great way for dealing with anxiety at work. Change your routine in subtle but important ways that make you feel good. Rearrange the order of daily tasks just for the novelty. More directly, change what you do and treat yourself. If you bring lunch every day, treat yourself to lunch out. If you’re constantly eating out, or worse, skipping lunch altogether, take the time to prepare a nice healthy meal for yourself the night before. Change your commute by leaving earlier to walk or bike part of the way. These changes can lower stress and give you the feeling of agency.
8. Listen to music
Whether it is a full orchestra, pan flutes, or that new age stuff they play in spas, music is a sure-fire way to calm down. Pop, rock, country and hip hop make up most of what is played in the world around us, so why not try listening to something different. Seek out something deliberate and slow, experimenting outside your comfort zone. Find a classical playlist on streaming services tailored to a calming mood. Pop and jazz of the 1930s and 1940s got your grandparents through the Great Depression and WWII, so why not try to discover big band, Billie Holiday or Johnny Mercer?
Other anxiety reducing strategies include exercise, avoiding caffeine and sugar, and getting more rest.