10 Ways to Feel Less Anxious at Work

10 Ways to Feel Less Anxious at Work

Today, I saw a Buzzfeed article which listed 9 little things we can do to feel less anxious at work. It popped up in my feed during a week when I have been feeling slightly anxious; not about work necessarily, but just about things in general. The article helped me refocus on my mindfulness practice, which I’ve let slip recently and can notice the change.

Luckily, I still maintain a practice when I feel things are getting on top of me in work. Here are 10 small things I do, which really help:

  1. Listen to your favourite radio station. Obviously, I am lucky in that I can listen to music through my headphones while at work. If you can, try and do this. I listen to Radio Paradise, which plays laid back music throughout the day with very little talking and no commercials. The music relaxes me, and effectively distracts my mind from worrying.
  2. Take 10 minute breaks when you can, and remove yourself from your desk. Go outside, make a cup of tea, wander about the building noticing things you may not have noticed before. Just move away from that work station!
  3. Keep a small reminder on your desk to stay mindful throughout your working day. I have a little stone telling me to be in the present on my desk. It helps me to remember that worrying won’t change what will happen tomorrow, it will only rob me of today.
  4. Take a full lunch break. Just because your colleagues work through lunch and eat at their desks, doesn’t mean you have to. A full break for lunch to eat, chat, read a book or listen to music without thinking about work will not only make your afternoon more productive, but it will remind you that life isn’t all about work.
  5. If it’s getting too much, and you can’t leave your desk, breathe. Just breathe. A few seconds, a few minutes, no one will notice. Just concentrate on the breath until you feel better.
  6. Smile. Yes, it sounds ridiculous, but making yourself smile will really help you feel a little bit better! Smile at someone else as you walk by. Smiles are contagious, and seeing another one will brighten your day a little bit.
  7. De-clutter! Tidy your desk, as I find a messy desk gives me a messy mind. You’ll feel more organised and able to concentrate.
  8. Put photos or an inspiring picture on your desk. I have some wedding photos and a swimming medal on mine – two of the best days I’ve had. They make me feel happy and remind me of how important my life is outside of work.
  9. Try some camomile tea, or something else caffeine free. Camomile helps me to feel calm, as well as feeling like I’m getting a warm hug.
  10. Talk to someone you trust. I have a very understanding line manager and HR contact. Not everyone is so lucky. If you don’t have anyone to speak to in work, there are people you can call. Being honest and open with someone at your work will make you feel so much better, and you may be surprised at the support you receive.

If you see someone in your workplace struggling, please ask them:

Are you OK?”

These three small words can make such a huge difference.

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Bring on the Night

Bring on the Night

sleeping and thinking

Does this look familiar? Even now with mindfulness practice and CBT, I still struggle occasionally with getting a good night’s sleep. For me, falling asleep is generally quite easy, but I know for many this is a problem. I tend to wake up at 3am and allow my thoughts to run away with me which really causes problems.

So how can we stay mindful in the dead of night, when there is very little to focus our attention on?

Throughout therapy, I’ve been working on some techniques to help alleviate this problem. The first I identified was that lying in bed and worrying had become a habit. If I woke up in the night, it was normal for me to start worrying about something. In fact, one night I noted that I’d said to myself “I’m not worrying about anything – there must be something I can worry about…” Habits are hard to break, so the easiest thing for me to do to start with was to remove myself from the bed and bedroom completely, as soon as the unhelpful thinking habits started.

Luckily we have a huge comfy sofa, so when this happens I can take myself into the living room and cozy up on there. Even the walk through to the other room takes my mind out of that negative space. Sometimes I make a cup of (caffeine-free) tea, or I read a book, or I watch TV. I always put the lamp on, which creates a sense of being back in the land of the living instead of in a dark and lonely nighttime. I always fall back to sleep on the sofa. It doesn’t happen straight away, but I don’t clock watch or worry about not getting enough sleep. I distract my attention with something on TV and suddenly the alarm is going off and it’s morning.

Another technique which I’ve tried, and which works, is mindful breathing.

The primary focus in Mindfulness Meditation is the breathing. However, the primary goal is a calm, nonjudgmental awareness, allowing thoughts and feelings to come and go without getting caught up in them. This creates calmness and acceptance.

Source: http://www.getselfhelp.co.uk/mindfulness.htm

This technique allows the mind to calm and stop its focus on thoughts and feelings which distract you from sleep. A particular favourite of mine is to count your breath backwards from 1,000. The in breath counts as 1, the out breath as 1.  It is important here to only focus on the breath, how it feels as it goes in and out of your body, and what changes it brings to your body as it does so. Along with counting, I will never reach beyond 900 before I am asleep again.

Why not try The Worry Warrior’s technique too:

I’d love to hear which techniques you have used to get a better night sleep while struggling with anxiety! Please leave them in the comments.