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8 Tips for Surviving in the Workplace When Anxiety Is Your Other Full-Time Job


We all know battling anxiety is a full-time job. We all know how consuming and debilitating anxiety can feel. I don’t know about you, but there are times when I wake up and think, “I just don’t want to do today.” But for some reason, I force myself out of bed and off to my job. It’s the fear of how my day is going to go. It’s wondering if my coworkers actually like me. It’s wondering if I’m annoying my boss when I have a question. It’s hoping my pants aren’t too short and don’t make my shoes look silly. It’s wondering who’s looking anyway, and convincing myself if anyone notices, they are the ones with the problem. It’s the endless possibilities of “what ifs” and unknowns.

So as someone who’s been battling anxiety the past 24 years, I’m here to tell you what helps me in the workplace to keep my sanity and do my job well.

1. Say to yourself, “Would I make this judgment about someone else?”

If someone else wore those pants that were too short, would I care? If the answer is no, then more than likely no one else cares. No one is thinking about you nearly as much as you think they are. In fact, they probably don’t really care.

2. Say to yourself, “You’re likely the only one still thinking about it.”

You said something awkward to your co-worker and you can’t stop replaying the scene in your mind. You hope you didn’t offend them and you wonder how you could say something so silly. You spend the rest of the day thinking about how awkward it was. Good news, they also probably don’t care. They probably forgot about 30 seconds after the conversation took place.

3. Say to yourself, “No one is mad at you.”

Is someone being distant who’s usually friendly? I don’t know about you, but my first thought is usually, “What did I do?” Then I make it worse… my anxious self tells me to go talk to them and see if they talk more. Then they don’t. Are they mad at me? Did I do something wrong? No, they are a person too, with their own problems and life stressors. You don’t know what they have to deal with, much like they don’t know what you have to deal with.

4. Give yourself permission to take a break.

Feeling overwhelmed? Take a step back from the situation. No one is going to stop you from taking a step out to use the bathroom or go get a drink. No one is going to wonder where you went or think twice about it. You are free to take breaks when you need them, because sometimes work can be overwhelming. W need breaks. We are human beings, anxious or not.

5. Don’t forget to practice self-care.

Don’t forget to include you time in that schedule. Even if you only have five minutes of your day, take some time for yourself. Maybe it’s during your lunch break and you take time to eat slow and enjoy your food. Maybe you go to work early and just sit in your car and listen to your favorite song before you go inside. Give yourself you time, and remember the end goal. I don’t know about you, but my end goal is peace of mind, and I’m willing to take the steps to get there.

6. Say to yourself, “They’re criticizing you because they want to help you, not hurt you.”

If your coworker gives you feedback or advice, odds are they are trying to help you… not hurt you. They want you to be better are your job. Getting criticism is hard, but you have to remind yourself they aren’t out to get you. They don’t want to bring you down, they don’t want to hurt your feelings. They genuinely care about you and want to see you do better. If they feel comfortable enough to tell you that, it’s really a huge compliment.

7. Pat yourself on the back for showing up to work.

Nothing is worse than calling out and feeling the guilt of knowing you should be at work. Give yourself credit, you went to work today! You did it! That’s half the battle. You’re doing something productive that is helping society in one way or another. You are doing something. Whether you love your job or not, you still managed to get there to work. That’s something to be proud of.

8. Being yourself is all you can do.

Be Yourself” by Audioslave is my favorite song. It reminds us that being yourself is all you can do. I’m listening to it right now, and you can too if you want. Don’t set unattainable standards for how fast you should pick up a new skill, or beat yourself up over how much you don’t know yet. I know it sounds cliche but trying your personal best is what really counts at the end of day. Not how you others think you “should be.” Be you.

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