by Terri Levine
First, let’s not confuse the anxiety to which I refer with clinical anxiety disorders, which are a more serious matter requiring professional medical help.
According to the Merriam Webster dictionary, anxiety is:
1. a – Painful or apprehensive uneasiness of mind usually over an impending or anticipated ill.
b – Fearful concern or interest.
c – A cause of anxiety.
2. An abnormal and overwhelming sense of apprehension and fear often marked by physiological signs (as sweating, tension, and increased pulse), by doubt concerning the reality and nature of the threat, and by self-doubt about one’s capacity to cope with it.
Approximately 13.3% of the adult population in the U.S. is affected by an Anxiety Disorder.
We agree, Coaches are not therapists or psychiatrists, and it is not our role to treat these disorders.
The anxiety I am talking about is that suffered by everyday workers, going about their business in a state of stress and discomfort.
This work related anxiety is persistent and causes you to worry excessively about events or activities or circumstances at work which may, or may not, even happen… but the fear is very real.
Stress feeds anxiety. For example, in a day when job security is no longer guaranteed, quite often it doesn’t take much to turn a “worry” into an anxiety, bringing with it a string of very real physical (and mental) health symptoms.
Before I suggest some tips to help prevent anxiety, it might be helpful to know some kinds of situations that are known for producing anxious moments:
Potential causes include:
working longer hours
lack of clear instructions from employers
new management techniques
performance related benefits/pay increases
fear of losing your job/redundancies
harassment or bullying in the workplace
Clearly, if a stressful situation is prolonged, the more likely you are to become anxious about it, especially if you feel powerless to do anything about either the situation causing the stress, or the outcome that you fear will befall you.
You’ll know the difference between ordinary stress and an anxious state by the accompanying physical symptoms, which may include sweaty palms, irregular and shallow breathing patterns, heart palpitations, to name a few.
So how can you possibly avoid the type of situations described above? Well, it may not be possible to avoid them as such, but with a bit of practice, you may be able to live with them without the accompanying unpleasant symptoms!
So here are some tips to get you started…
At work, when you’re feeling overwhelmed, go somewhere quiet and take six deep breaths – breathe in deeply, filling your lungs with air, and breathe out slowly.
Consider the consequences of whatever you do, and don’t do anything that might lead you to tell a lie about it afterwards or indulge in any other kind of cover-up.
Don’t rely on memory – write it down. An Old Chinese proverb says, “The palest ink is better than the most retentive memory.”
Don’t stress or rush – take the time to ask directions or get clear instructions.
Know the difference between “needs” and “preferences” and don’t get too hung up with “preferences”.
Take up meditation or Yoga or some other form of relaxation program – make it a part of your life and find time to practice at least one relaxation technique every day.
Learn to say no!
Don’t fool yourself into thinking you are “weak” – watch your “self-talk” – keep it upbeat and positive.
Make a list of the things that worry you or cause you stress. Look at each item realistically – list the real or imagined outcomes you associate with each item.
Study them carefully – what, if anything, can you do about any of the things you’ve noted. Check back to your list each week and note any changes you feel regarding each item.
Many times, writing it down helps and produces clarity. You will soon be able to discern which fears are foundless, and for the other fears, you will be able to brainstorm ideas that will allow you to tame them, if not conquer them.
Don’t be scared to speak up if there are situations at work that are causing you sleepless nights.
You could keep going, trying to tolerate it, but this will merely add to the pressures on you and increase the stress you are already enduring, and before you know it, you are in anxiety mode.
Choose somebody in a position to help you and with whom you feel confident to share your concerns, and express yourself clearly and calmly.
Remember, what we focus on is what we attract into our reality. So concentrate your focus on the things you do want in your life, rather than the things you don’t want.
“Positive thinking” is not merely a catchphrase. You deserve an extraordinary life, but it is up to you to achieve it.
[Photo: Anxiety, by Arnaud Abélard.]
Written by Terri Levine, The Guru of Coaching SM, Ph.D., MCC, PCC, MS, CCC-SLP, the Founder ofComprehensive Coaching – The Professional’s Coach Training Program, a popular Master Certified personal and business Coach, sought after Public Speaker, and Author of bestsellers “Stop Managing, Start Coaching”, “Work Yourself Happy”, “Coaching for an Extraordinary Life” and “Create Your Ideal Body”.
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