Tell me if this sounds like you…
Do you wake up in the morning anxious, dreading the thought of going to work because the amount of stuff on your to-do list is overwhelming you?
Do you get to work, sit down at your desk with your saving grace (a tall latte), open up your mail server only to find hundreds of emails you have to trawl through? The pressure inside your mind starts to build, your heart starts to race, your chest tightens and you wonder if you will survive the day.
If that sounds anything like you, the next few minutes you spend here will be worth your while, as I share with you my 6 top anxiety hacks you can use everyday to get a handle on your anxiety and your work life.
1. Take time to plan
Taking time to plan may sound like a total waste of time, because you could be drilling into your workload instead. But trust me, this will make you way more efficient, and less stressed.
Even just writing down what needs to get done and deciding what order you’re going to tackle it in can be pretty powerful. Why? It takes everything that is flying chaotically around your head and puts them into an actionable list. So stop panicking, breathe for a minute, pull out a piece of paper and dump every task from your mind onto it.
Now prioritise them. What is urgent? What is important? Now you can clearly see what is the priority, and focus on moving from one task to the next without fluffing around – making you way more efficient.
2. Set limits
When you’re busy at work do you keep on saying yes to more work, yes to more time helping others, thinking you can do it all then lose time to get your own work done?
It is time to recognise that you have limits, and if you are already overwhelmed and anxious then something is going to give. You may miss deadlines, make mistakes, or reach boiling point and chuck it all in.
So, take control of your situation, and stop allowing other people to keep on piling work on top of you. It isn’t fair on them or you. Get comfortable saying ‘no’ and start setting more realistic expectations for yourself. You can’t do it all.
Don’t respond with a knee-jerk yes. Think about what’s on your plate, where priorities can be shuffled, or whether a colleague could step in to assist you. If you know taking on extra will push you over the edge, then say no with a kind and firm tone.
Learning to say no is much easier than living with the consequence of saying yes.
3. Schedule in some worry time
Do you spend a whole lot of energy worrying about not hitting those sales targets or meeting deadlines?
Studies show that 97% of what you worry over is not much more than a fearful mind punishing you with exaggerations and misperceptions!
A great tip to overcome chronic worry, is to allocate 20 minutes each day to worry about anything you want.
When a worry pops up, jot it down on paper, then tell your mind you will catch up later at the scheduled worry time. You will be amazed at how effective this can be.
Now you have a whole lot of time throughout your day to focus on being productive without the worry.
4. Engage with your environment
If you are stuck at your desk, or in a car all day, this can send a message to your body that you are trapped. Causing you to feel tense, anxious and stuck in your head.
Focusing on your physical environment can get you out of your head long enough to deactivate the stress response.
Use your body to stand up, move around, engage with your environment by walking around and utilising the space around you. If you are in your car, use your visual field to look around you when you are stopping at traffic lights. Look at the sky, take in your surroundings and breathe.
5. Incorporate ‘me’ time into your working week
A huge workload can cause you to put your needs and self care last, which means you will be one grumpy, exhausted, resentful woman once Friday hits.
Commit to looking after yourself at the beginning of the working week by writing in an appointment with yourself in your diary. Block it off, and do not compromise “me” time for anyone else.
Use this time to give back to you. Meditate, exercise, practice mindfulness, get lost in a good book, stretch or get a massage. Do whatever you need to do to connect back to a happy relaxed you!
6. Balance your anxiety in 5 minutes with breathing
When we are busy charging through our day, we can forget to breathe normally. Holding on, being rigid or tense with our breathing sends the signal to our body we are stressed out.
Breathing initiates the relaxation response bringing you into a powerful state of physiological coherence. When we have coherence, we feel balanced and we can respond optimally to our world. This coherent state is connected with feelings of joy, happiness and peace.
For 5 minutes, sit down, relax your shoulders and body, and breathe into your diaphragm the same length of time as you breathe out. Count to 6 on your breath in, and count to 6 on your breath out.
Do this before bed, first thing in the morning and throughout your day. The regular your practice this, the quicker your nervous system will come back into balance.
Practice Practice Practice
It takes practice to get good at dealing with stress. It also takes being consistent to rewire your brain and your body to know how to activate the relaxation response long term. Patience is key as you change your patterns, behaviours and habits that have been controlling your life.