8 ways to reduce anxiety at work

8 ways to reduce anxiety at work

“Life is ten percent what you experience and ninety percent how you respond to it.”

Dorothy M. Neddermeyer

According to Mental Health First Aid England, 1 in 6 people at work will experience anxiety or problems related to stress at any one time. The fashion industry is accepted as one of the most stressful to work in due to its unique pressures. Although fashion may appear exciting and glamorous from the outside it is a demanding lifestyle, fast paced, highly competitive and insecure where overwhelm and anxiety are commonplace due to the pressure of excessive workloads and long hours. For many the early years also are made extra challenging by low pay and in some cases it causes individuals to leave the industry. It has been well publicized that several well-known designers and entrepreneurs in the industry have suffered from burnout and worse but it is really important to acknowledge that this occurs throughout the industry at all levels.

Feeling overwhelmed at work is a stress response when we feel the demand on us outweighs our resources. This can take us into survival mode where we are unable to think clearly or concentrate and we constantly worry and feel out of control. To others we may appear defensive or irritable and it can cause difficulties with working relationships. As well as the emotional toll anxiety can manifest in unpleasant and debilitating physical symptoms such as rapid heartbeat, headaches, not being able to relax or sleep well.

Having experienced burnout myself when I began my career as a young designer, I understand how hard it is to ask for help, but having eventually found the courage to do so it was life changing. With the right support I was able to make positive and transformational changes to the way I was working and living. It enabled me to reclaim my motivation to enjoy and succeed in the career I loved. I was healthier and happier knowing I was more resilient and had the tools to manage and respond to challenges when faced with them.

The most important step is to take action and seek help if it is interfering with our everyday living. We can learn strategies and routines that will help reduce overwhelm. It is crucial to understand what is at the root of our anxiety and build a personal toolkit so we can have more than one strategy to implement when stress and anxiety kick in.

Here are 8 ways to help manage anxiety

1. Become more self aware

Self awareness is paramount when it comes to managing stress because if we know ourselves well enough then tuning into our feelings, thoughts and behaviours daily allows us to recognise any early warning signs of stress. Ask yourself, “What am I feeling now?” Reflect on how you are feeling physically and emotionally. Have you noticed any changes in the way you behave or respond to situations or other people? Someone else may notice change in your behaviour so rather than being in denial or defensive consider the benefit of taking a moment to reflect. This may be a gift that can help you to acknowledge the early warning signs of stress when you can reduce the risk of longer-term health issues.

2. Identify your triggers

If you are experiencing overwhelm and anxiety at work it is important to identify why you are feeling that way. Be self aware and honest about what is causing you stress. Is your workload too great? Are there not enough hours in the day? Is your boss putting excessive pressure on you? Do you lack the resources needed to complete the task in hand? Knowing your personal triggers is the first step to dealing with your anxiety. Keep a journal of your thoughts, feelings and actions and what causes you to feel stressed. Writing them down helps to clarify the issues.

3. Don’t suffer in silence

If your workload is unmanageable it’s a good idea to speak to your boss. I know you are thinking that this might seem really difficult to do, but if you do nothing then nothing will change and it will only get worse. If you plan ahead for the meeting and remain calm and professional, you are more likely to get a positive response. Be clear about your job description and identify what you are doing, how long the tasks are taking and what resources you need and why your workload is challenging. Take some control by suggesting practical solutions that would help to alleviate the problem.

4. Change your view

Putting things into perspective can be difficult at work especially when it feels all-consuming. Remember to focus on the important things in your life. It’s not just about work. Recognise what you have control over and try to consciously let go of those things that you can’t control. Even when you can’t control circumstances you can control how you respond to them.

5. Nurture yourself and your wellbeing

When you are overwhelmed the tendency is to just keep going even though you are exhausted. However when things are tough at work it is important to remember that prioritising your health and wellbeing is more important than ever. Set boundaries between work and the rest of your life. Commit to include other activities outside work into your day and stick to them. Ask a friend or someone you trust to make sure you do the things you decide to do. Don’t isolate yourself, enjoy time with a friend, get involved with an activity you love or help someone else so you take the focus away from yourself. Even a short walk during the working day outside in a different environment helps to break the cycle of overwhelm. Listen to a relaxation or mindfulness app or make some time just to relax and do nothing to reclaim your energy.

6. Live in the present

Focusing on the future is unproductive and stress inducing so focusing on the present is more helpful. Take each day as it comes. Focus on your life, connecting with friends and finding enjoyment and gratitude for everyday simple tasks and events. Laugh and smile, humour can help break a negative stream of thought.

7. Stress is not all bad

It is important to recognise that you need positive stress (eustress), to motivate you and help you achieve your goals. Stress is inevitable but rather than seeing it as all bad try finding ways to embrace it and use it for good. Building resilience and mental toughness will help you learn how to control your mind rather than letting your mind control you. Kelly McGonigal’s book, The Upside of Stress: Why stress is good for you (and how to get good at it), is well worth a read.

8. Take action

If you have difficulty managing stress and it impedes your ability to carry out your normal daily activities then don’t be afraid to reach out for help. Asking for help is not a weakness, taking action will help you to reduce your anxiety, increase your resilience and build a happier and healthier life. You can learn how to master your mind and create the life you want. Do something about it today. It really helps to talk.

If this resonates with you then do something today that your future self will thank you for

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5 Ways To Replace Self-Doubt With Confidence

5 Ways To Replace Self-Doubt With Confidence

“Nobody can give you wiser advice than yourself.” – Cicero

It’s common for us all to experience self-doubt at times, especially when we are feeling stressed or overwhelmed. It can hold us back and prevent us from expressing whom we really are and what we want to do because we fear of failure or rejection. Comparing ourselves to others can exacerbate self-doubt. Finding our true voice and purpose isn’t always easy. It means having to confront our own vulnerability, but this is where we can start to build our inner strength and resilience.

I spent too much time my first job, in the fashion industry, in a persistent state of fear and self-doubt. Having only just graduated from university, I was given the responsibility for totally re-branding and designing all the collections. The responsibility was enormous and the pressure intense. I started to doubt my ability to produce what was required. I often worked sixty or seventy hours a week trying to prove I could live up to the company’s expectations and climb what I believed to be the ladder of success. I never thought of the consequences on my health and wellbeing until I was overwhelmed with stress and physical and mental fatigue.

What I learnt from my experience was that I needed to change the way I responded to my self-limiting thoughts. I took a step back and allowed myself to be vulnerable, which was not an easy thing for me to do. The first thing I did was to ask for help. I then started to explore and learn how I could find ways of overcoming my self-doubt. The biggest step for me was to be realistic in acknowledging my abilities and capabilities. I was scared of admitting I couldn’t handle the huge workload. Instead I had pushed myself to do the work of 2 or 3 people and this was unsustainable.

Self-doubt and entrepreneurs

Many clients I have worked with have experienced self-doubt and the resulting negative impact it has had on them. I work with female entrepreneurs and they often feel they have to be good at so many different things to get their business started or to grow their business. They often doubt their abilities to handle all the responsibility and this can lead to them feeling stressed and overwhelmed. If left unchecked this can result in them feeling paralysed when having to make decisions.

But the good news is that Self-doubt is not always negative.

The nervous energy you feel from the stress and anxiety caused by self-doubt can work for you. If you can harness that energy in a positive way it can help you to motivate yourself and to take action. It will also help you to be more resilient.

Here are 5 ways that can help you to replace self-doubt with confidence 

1. Is your self-doubt realistic or unrealistic?

Realistic self-doubt is when you can acknowledge that you have set out to do something that is more than you feel you can achieve at the moment. That’s okay as it makes sense. By owning it you can then act on this realistic knowledge and make a decision about what action to take in order to make it more achievable. For example, perhaps you could take a course or ask an expert in that field for their help.

Unrealistic self-doubt is when you know you have got the resources and skills to achieve what you are trying to do. Change the way you respond by thinking about something you may have done similar before. It may be challenging, but you know it’s achievable with effort and commitment. In this case your initial feelings of self-doubt are likely to be untrue and there is no real reason to doubt your capability.

2. Trust yourself

If you have a decision to make you may ruminate on it too long and that just feeds your self-doubt. Self-doubt can lead to you look for reassurance from others. The best way is to trust yourself and go with your first reaction. How many times have you chosen to follow someone else’s suggestion and then realised that you should have listened to your gut instinct and gone with that. Make a decision and trust yourself that you know what’s the best course of action for you. This is a great way to build your confidence.

3. Clarify your values and what matters to you

When you decide what really matters to you and you find your purpose and meaning in life, your self-doubt will diminish. This will help you to connect to yourself and to others, and will help you manage the challenges and decisions you have to make. Ask yourself is your purpose aligned to your values and strengths?

4. Treat yourself with self-compassion

I remind myself daily to practice self-compassion. If you constantly judge yourself or are seeking to be perfect at everything you do self-doubt or your inner critic will creep in as a form of protection. Imagine how you would respond to a close friend who is struggling with the feelings of self-doubt and respond to yourself with the same words you would say to your friend. Stress experienced from self-doubt can be exhausting so take a break, spend some time with friends or just go for a walk or a run. Self-care is the number one priority and builds your confidence physically and mentally.

5. Don’t compare your accomplishments to others

Comparing yourself with others serves no purpose. Everyone is an individual and on their own journey. What matters is that you are following the path that serves you well. Are you doing what really matters to you, what works for you and is personally fulfilling? Gain confidence through doing what you love and enjoy. This is what makes you feel good about yourself and it doesn’t matter if it is different to what someone else is doing.

Let’s talk

If any of this has resonated with you and you would like to find out more about how to replace self-doubt with confidence please contact kate@finerthinking.com or call 07736 649584. Let’s talk.