Coping with Anxiety at Work: 4 Easy Tips

Feeling worried or anxious are all natural emotions an employee may feel. But there are instances where those emotions may translate to an anxiety disorder.

With this year’s World Mental Health Day theme being Mental Health in the WorkplaceSupplycart aims to commemorate it by stressing the importance of taking care of your mental health, an essential component for you to #workhappy.

Like many mental illnesses, anxiety has no face. It can happen to you, your desk mate and even your supervisors. The prevalence of anxiety is an extremely alarming figure. According to Relate Malaysia, “the global estimate for the prevalence of anxiety disorders is 24.9% among adults. This would mean more than 7 million Malaysians suffer from a type of anxiety disorder”.

With such staggering statistics, anxiety disorders are a pressing issue that should be  highlighted in the workplace.

Anxiety symptoms don’t just boil down to feeling worried about something. That worry can be magnified and occur excessively that it may consume your every thought through out the day. Often, when one is experiencing anxiety, they will also have difficulty in focusing. This may be relevant for us who are working as we need concentration to fulfill our tasks but it may be hindered by anxiety.

The symptoms of anxiety stretch to physical symptoms as well. Dizziness, increased heart rate, sweating, muscle tension and getting chills are all physical symptoms of anxiety.

There are days where battling anxiety is a constant uphill challenge of you vs. yourself, as this author came to know (she wishes she could leave anxiety at the office door while she slips off her shoes and makes way to her desk but that’s not always the case).

There are also occasions where you jump to conclusions without any rationale behind it. And often, that conclusion is the worst case scenario.

There will be times where anxiety completely blindsights you despite how well your workday is going.

Having anxiety while working may not always be easy but there are momentary solutions that you can practice while you are at work.

Anxiety Tip #1: Identify your triggers and find constructive solutions

If you have a recurring task that repeatedly induces your anxiety, it is known as a trigger. Do take note of what triggers uneasiness or a panicky feeling that causes your inability to focus.

The next step to take after identifying your triggers is to brainstorm ideas on how you can alternatively and constructively deal with that trigger so that the next time it arises, you’ll have a better hand in dealing with that particular trigger. Do ensure that the steps you take to overcome that trigger are tangible solutions.

Keeping track of your triggers and knowing what worked and what didn’t work in coping with that trigger allows you to have a thought record which is a common tool used in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).

Anxiety Tip #2: Find some alone time

We all could use some time away from the hustle bustle of our busy office. If your surroundings trigger your anxiety and you feel overwhelmed by it, excuse yourself and find a quiet spot to regain your composure and focus.

If your thoughts are speeding at a million miles an hour and you can’t seem to get in the zone, step out of the office for a bit. You can even go sit through a guided mindfulness session that can aid with re-centering your thoughts so you’ll be able to re-focus at work.

Anxiety Tip #3: Have a hot drink

Hot drinks are a great tool to utilize when you need to ground yourself. Grounding is a coping technique you can try out that re-connects you in the present moment, which may be hard to do when to do when you’re experiencing anxiety and when your mind is all over the place and already catastrophising the worst case scenario.

When you consume a hot drink, pay attention to the temperature (but please don’t burn your tongue in the process!). Let the drink sit for a bit and focus on the taste as well. This grounding technique can help you re-focus and re-center your thoughts and it’s convenient to carry out in the office as hot drinks are a pantry staple.

Anxiety Tip #4: Have flavoured candy on standby

Different flavoured candy such as Mentos, or gummy bears aren’t only yummy but can be utilized as a grounding tool when it comes to coping with anxiety.

Similar to hot drinks, different flavoured candy allows you to focus on the different flavours. As you taste each sweet, concentrate on the flavour and taste. Is it sweet or sour? Is it strawberry or orange? Ask yourself those questions as you consume the candy as it re-collects your train of thought into focusing on what you are tasting.

While these tips are immediate solutions that can momentary ease your anxiety at work, there are numerous resources available in Malaysia if you are seeking help for your mental health:

  1. Relate Malaysia is a community organization that lets you get a mental health screening online. You can even book a therapy session online as low as RM 30.
  2. VitaMode is an optimal health solutions provider that carries supplements for your physical and mental well-being.
  3. Touristly is a travel platform that helps you plan your next vacation. While it’s not directly related to psychotherapy, taking a break from work can do wonders to relieve stress and you will return to work feeling re-energized.

Click here for a full list of resources.

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