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25 People Told Us What Relieves Their Anxiety at Work

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It’s not a huge surprise many Americans are stressed at work, with half of employees surveyed by the Anxiety and Depression Association of America saying stress impacts both their relationships with their coworkers and the quality of their work. The scarier statistic is that 83 percent of men and 72 percent of women reported work-related stress carries over into their personal lives.

But there are real ways to cope with stress at the workplace without hindering your quality of work. Here’s what some of our readers said helps them relieve anxiety while they’re on the clock.

1. “I keep a small box of things in my desk that help me cope. Something for each sense: candy,  gum, mints, lotion, a reminder of a calm favorite song and pictures of loved ones.” — Lisa Grossenbacher

2. “I apply essential oils during hectic times as work to reduce anxiety. They’re especially helpful during those really cold winter months!” — Jennifer ‘Brunel’ Baker

3. Get outside and walk around the block. A few minutes of fresh air turns into a fresh perspective.”— Liz Schwartz

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4. “I write notes on my arm to remind me to breathe and to keep going. Every time I reread them, it helps refocus my mind.” — Julianne Leow 

5. “Organizing, sorting and cleaning. If I cannot ‘clean up’ my anxiety, cleaning up makes me feel more in control.” — Jodie Tompkins 

6. “Talking to someone else who deals with chronic anxiety.” — Kay Witt Coy

7. “I have a warm, fuzzy file of pictures and notes from my kids and clients to remind me I do make a difference and it’s worth it!” — Melissa Wood


8. “I get up and walk around visiting my coworkers. It helps distract me.” — Cathy Ketcher Rowley

9. “Healthy snacks for mid-morning and afternoon.” — Kerri Weitzel 

10. My anxiety comes on when I’m thinking about the past or stressing about the future. All I need to do is pull my thoughts back into the present. It’s what’s happening right now that I actually have control over.” — Deb Disbury

11. “Leaving the room and taking a few moments, even if it’s just sitting in the bathroom.” — Louis Fury

12. “Turn off my office light, lean back in my chair and close my eyes for a couple minutes.” — Janet O’Neal

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13. I build rubber band balls during slow times at work, the times I get lost in my own thoughts. Keeping myself busy calms me down, even if it’s just playing with the endless drawer of rubber bands.” — Manda Ree

14. “I slyly go for a vending machine run. I ask everyone what they want and take the stairs to escape for a bit. I hit the bathroom first, and stretch while I walk or wait at the vending machine. Physically escaping is a must.” — Tracy Boyarsky Smith

15. “Put your feet on the ground and think about what is happening, not what your mind is imagining will happen.” — Karli Ann Wilks Lyles

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16. I always use this old ‘home remedy.’ A glass of water with two to three spoons of sugar.” — Letto Abraxas

17. “Meditation. Closing my eyes and focusing on breathing and soothing my mind and emotions.” — Sara Hulstedt

18. Chewing gum!” — Susan E Freeling Muchmore-Phelps

19. “I look at pictures of my daughter. They remind me of why I’m doing what I’m doing and what I’m lucky to come home to.” — Bailey Annan Sonday

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20. I put my favorite music on and pop in just one earpiece. This way I can still hear what’s going on around me, but I can listen to my music.” — Diane Jenkinson

21. I count a lot, touching each finger on my left hand to my thumb and counting to four over and over until I feel better.”  — Dre M Harris

22. “I try to break each task into literally the smallest parts I can think of and then celebrate each step.”— Amy Hopson

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23. “Water. Drink lots of water. So many people walk around so dehydrated and they don’t even realize it. For me, it helps.” — Sarah Randall

24. “I spend a few minutes looking around my desk and describing everything around me in great detail (not out loud). It helps remind me I’m safe.” — Olivia James

25. “Multiple cat videos.” — Lark Jarvis

What would you add? Tell us in the comments below.

*Some answers have been shortened and/or edited.

Editor’s note: Please keep in mind that anxiety is unique to an individual. We share these coping mechanisms as suggestions — please see a professional if you are struggling with anxiety.

Originally published: July 22, 2015
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