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4 Tactics to Cope With Anxiety at Work

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Y’all, dealing with anxiety anywhere is crappy, but it especially sucks when a flare-up occurs at work. I know I instantly feel trapped and start to (irrationally) feel as if everyone in the office is staring at me. In the past, I would make matters worse by trying to ignore my anxious feelings by scrolling mindlessly through Instagram or telling myself to get it together and to stop freaking out — neither of these worked. Below are a few tactics I am trying out instead. They are helping me embrace the wave of anxiety when it hits in the middle of a workday.

1. I get up from my desk and go for a walk.

Most of the time when my anxiety hits, I can get up from desk and head outside to get some fresh air. While it might sound odd, walking actually helps to stabilize my heart rate. The exercise gives my body a reason to elevate my heart rate other than the perceived threat of danger and I can then bring it down after I finish my walk. Also, walking is proven to help process thoughts, allowing me to understand why I am feeling anxious and work through it. So with all of that, plus the combination of fresh air and getting away from the office, I begin to feel less anxious.

2. I remind myself I’ve been through this before.

When anxiety springs up at work, I can actually make it worse by panicking over the fact I am having anxiety. Ugh, it’s a wicked cycle. Simply telling myself I have made it through anxiety attacks or stressful moments before can often serve as the reminder I need to calm down little.

3. I smell some lavender.

I always keep a bottle of lavender at my desk to smell when I am feeling anxious. This especially helps when I am trying to get a task done and I don’t have time to get up and walk around. I pour a few drops into my palms, rub my hands together, close my eyes, hold my hands up to my nose and take a few deep breaths. It doesn’t always make my anxiety disappear, but it can help me refocus and calm down enough to get the job at hand done.

4. I take a pause from talking.

I’ve found this one serves me well when my anxiety shows up during a meeting. My previous go-to coping mechanism consisted of talking way too much, which would lead to promising things I couldn’t deliver on or saying things I didn’t mean. Now, instead of talking nonstop (and making my anxiety worse post-meeting), I am starting to say phrases like: “I am going to need more time to process this,” “Can you explain that more?” And, “I need more clarification.” While these phrases might open me up to vulnerability, they also allow me some time to process and get answers to my questions.

Work has always served as a huge trigger for my anxiety. My daily struggle to people-please plus my issues with perfectionism combines into one lethal cocktail for my mental health. Managing my anxiety at the workplace is an ongoing journey, and I will continue to use my coping strategies and try to new ones to figure out what works best for me!

How do you manage stress and anxiety at work? Share in the comments below to help and inspire other readers.

Follow this journey on the author’s blog.

Photo by Becca Tapert on Unsplash

Originally published: December 20, 2018
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