• Dr Phoebe Lau

4 Quick Ways to Deal with Anxiety at Work

I’m often asked for a few quick tools to manage anxiety when it loudly announces its presence at work. It’s important to remember that anxiety symptoms are strongly linked with our stress response. This means that by the time we experience anxiety symptoms, our brain has activated our survival system (fight-flight-freeze) to handle a real or imagined threat. This doesn’t mean we always know exactly the reason for the anxiety. It could be that our body is responding to a build up of chronic stress. Our first goal is to calm our body in times of heightened stress, rather than ask why. Here are a few quick ways to deal with anxiety when you just don’t have time for a D & M. 

Sunrise over city
Photo by timJ

Belly Breaths: Your breath is the quickest way to calm your stress response, and switch on your parasympathetic nervous system (rest and digest mode). Relaxing your shoulders and chest, take slow and deep breaths through the nose and out through your mouth. Feel your belly inflate with every inhale, and deflate with every exhale. Try to avoid taking breaths from your chest as your breaths will be more shallow. Take belly breaths for 3 minutes. You may also like to listen to a guided audio here

Move your body: If you can, leave your office and take a walk around the building. Avoid areas where there are large crowds and noise. Too much sensory stimulation when you're highly anxious can be overwhelming for your mind and body. If you need to remain in your office, find somewhere private where you can do light stretches to open up your chest and relax your muscles. 

Change temperature: This is another effective way to switch on your parasympathetic nervous system. Rinse your pulse points with cold water, wash your face, or drink ice water. Take the time to slow down your body in a quiet area. 

Woman biting her pencil at the laptop

Question: If you’re worried about something that is making you feel anxious, ask yourself, “What’s the worst thing that could happen?” and “How likely is this going to happen given what I know about the situation?”. It’s important when answering the second question, that we base this on evidence or facts about the situation, and not on our assumptions or feelings. 

If you have other quick and effective strategies let us know.

Remember these are short-term strategies. Sometimes it’s important to speak with someone if anxiety is a common experience for you and it’s impact on your life.

If you think that The Inner Collective can help you or your organisation, contact us here.

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