It’s normal to feel anxious from time to time. But sometimes worrying about completing tasks at work or dealing with personal issues at home can cause anxiety to get the best of us. Everyday stress tends to add up, Tamar E. Chansky, a psychologist in Plymouth Meeting, Pa. who treats people with anxiety disorders, said to The New York Times.
This is important to note: Having an anxiety disorder is very different than experiencing anxiety because of the way you think and handle stress. This article addresses the constant worriers who feel paralyzed by distraction, causing a lack of concentration necessary to complete the task at hand.
That said, if you’re an overly anxious person and worrying is a constant, “It takes less to tip the scales to make you feel agitated or plagued by physical symptoms, even in minor situations,” Chansky wrote in her book, Freeing Yourself From Anxiety. That’s why it’s important to recognize when your anxieties occur and work on lowering your daily stress levels so when the serious, unexpected challenges arise, you’ll be better able to deal with them.
Chansky speaks about daily stressors, or small tasks if you will (not calamitous things or real life disasters), referring to them as extraneous catastrophes, which are stresses that pile up over the course of the day. Because so much stress is centered around work, it’s the first and best place to start to train yourself to deal with your anxieties. “If you’re worrying about your work all the time, you won’t get your work done,” Chansky said, adding that she recommends people try to compartmentalize. People who are prone to worry or have anxiety about their work tasks should simply try setting aside time each day to fret, let out a scream in private, go nuts, then put aside those anxieties and spend the rest of the day getting things done.
Besides fretting about it, how else can you take control of your anxieties? To sum it up in three words: Let it go. When you feel pressure to fix something right away and it’s causing you anxiety, walk away for a few minutes — but just make sure you tell yourself or whoever you’re dealing with that you’ll be right back. Take a moment to breathe and reboot, or “take a breathing break,” Chansky recommends. And when you do, try concentrating on your breathing so you’re exhaling calmly and intentionally. After practicing this, you will have a clear head and feel less overwhelmed, so you can figure out how to tackle the next small task at hand.
Here are a few other techniques to try to nip your anxieties in the bud quickly.
1. Find a friendly face to talk to
Finding a friendly face to chat with for a little while is a very effective way to distract yourself from your anxieties, and it helps get you out of your head, which can be your worst enemy if you’re feeling anxious. Find a co-worker you like or get someone you know, love, or trust on the phone and don’t be afraid to express that you’re feeling anxious. This is why it’s so important to have supportive friends and family in your life to boost your confidence. It’s something we all need.
2. Try taking an exercise break
If you have the time and can go to the gym during your lunch break, it’s a great way to relieve your anxiety and get a good workout in. Try doing some cardio, which can be very effective at lessening the severity of your anxiety. You’ll also end up feeling a little happier afterward.
3. Listen to music
As long as your workplace allows it, stick your earbuds in and listen to some music for a little while. There is nothing quite like listening to your favorite tunes to put your mind more at ease. Make sure you also listen to music that represents the way you want to feel or would like to feel, such as happy or relaxing music.
And remember: It’s best to save that emotional capital for big life anxieties that deserve all that pent up energy. There is no use worrying about the things you can’t change or getting worked up over small tasks. Work is work, and understanding that it will always be stressful is the first thing you need to admit in order to free yourself of the unnecessary feeling of anxiety.