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

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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!”

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Originally published: November 21, 2016
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