When Anxiety Makes You Feel Like a Prisoner at School or Work

Work or school can be a tough place to deal with anxiety. Even though I liked school and have had the fortune of enjoying almost every job I’ve had since college, there are times – many times – anxiety makes me feel captive, chaining me to my desk as I resort to white-knuckling it through the rest of the day.

Eight hours is a long time, unless you’re on vacation. If the day could be broken up into smaller pieces so you could say “I’ve made it halfway through the day” or “only one hour to go,” it might seem more manageable.

At a previous job, I listened to a radio program during lunch – 92.9 dave FM’s “Radio Free Lunch” (now a sports talk station). Everyday there was a theme – songs about summer, songs about superheroes for the latest comic book movie release, songs with the cheesiest lyrics for National Grilled Cheese Day – you get the idea. I looked forward to it every day. I enjoyed the anticipation of what songs they’d play to fit the theme and it meant my work day was halfway through.

Maybe there is a favorite podcast you can listen to during lunch, or even for 10 minutes as you take a quick walk through the hallways.

At another job, there was an automated email I received everyday at 3 p.m. The email was simply a status about a system I managed, no big deal. But pretty soon, I was looking forward to that email. It signaled I had only one more hour of work. I’d see the email and buckle back down for one more hour. Because I could make it through one hour.

These are simple, silly things. But sometimes it’s those things that get you through. Try to think of natural “breaks” in your day at school or work, and use those as milestones to tell yourself “you’ve made it this far!”

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.

Related to Anxiety

illustration of people's faces in different colors

What It Feels Like to Have 'Imposter Syndrome'

I’ve been reading a lot lately about “high-functioning” depression and anxiety. I possess both. Most of the time I am able to be a high achiever and people who don’t know me well don’t realize how much I struggle to keep on the straight and narrow. One aspect of this I have seen over and over [...]
woman with hair covering eyes

Anxiety, and the Words I Wish I Had

There was a time in my life that I had so much anxiety and so few words. To articulate what I was experiencing required some sort of understanding, an understanding I had not yet achieved. How could I describe the mental battle that took place each time I left the house? How could I articulate [...]
Businessman hiding under a desk

What Goes On in an Anxious Mind When Someone Asks to Have a 'Quick Word'

“Could I just have a quick word with you in my office?” An innocent, harmless little sentence but one which strikes fear in to my heart. With my anxiety I tend to live my life one hour in to the future. If I have a situation coming up which I know will do a “spinal [...]
Empty Corridor In Modern Hospital

5 Things That Helped Me Through Spending Thanksgiving in a Psychiatric Hospital

Thanksgiving had always been a holiday I would look forward to all year. Family meals, watching the parade, and eating my grandma’s pecan pie were traditions I had kept since I was a little girl. The holiday as I knew it changed when I was 21 years old. In 2013, I spent Thanksgiving in a [...]