Work Anxiety: A few ways to get relief

I know, I’ve done these before but these never get old and are critical for all of us who have anxiety issues. Let’s face it, work plays a huge part in our lives, we need income to survive and from plumbers to CFO’s we all get stress inputs via expectations from work. Maybe you thrive on it, or maybe you cringe from it. If you are having a bad day at work and need quick relief here are 5 things to try.

Maybe you have a bad boss? Maybe your coworkers are toxic? Maybe you have just checked out and just loathe going to work every day? Whatever it is you are not alone, tens of millions of people all over the world have work anxiety issues. It manifests itself in several ways. Maybe it’s too cold? Maybe it’s too hot? You get the picture. Below are 5 things you can do to fight anxiety at work.

Surviving 2020 & covid
A negative work environment can break you

1. Have plants: When you’re stressed at work, water your plant, prune it a bit, touch it. Often when we care for another entity, plants, people, pets we create positive feelings within ourselves. This can translate into a temporary emotional boost and get you through a tough moment.

2. Go home: I know; this is probably not on the top of peoples list but hear me out. Companies give people sick time and vacation time as a benefit of their employment. If things are horrible at work one day, bag out early. I mean this isn’t going to stop you from thinking about it, but you’ll be thinking about it in a comfort setting (your car, your home) rather than wallowing in thought at work, the source of the pain.

3. Call your parents: If your parents are no longer with us, call a family member. You don’t have to dump the stress on them but just call and say hi. If you call mom or dad they are going to figure out quickly something is wrong and comfort you, that’s what parents do, the great ones anyway LOL.

4. Indulge your sweet tooth: Look I’m not telling you to go on an eating binge here but have something to eat that you enjoy. Chocolate? Doritos? An apple… Doesn’t matter, sometimes eating provides comfort and while unhealthy eating and overeating can prolong and enhance negative emotions associated with anxiety there is nothing wrong with indulging once in a while.

5. Address the issue head on: this is the most challenging depending on your workplace but if the source of the stress is an individual, a project or the work in general talk to your supervisor or HR. Companies want productive employees and if you don’t tell people there is a problem, you can’t assume they know one exists. If you tell them at least you know they are informed.

Look none of these are wonderful catch all solutions to work stress, but you need something. I used to work in a high stress environment, I know I have anxiety issues and when I was in a stressful work environment it was a THOUSAND times worse. How do you deal with it? I had one woman that I worked with that every hour on the hour she dipped out for a smoke break. Really nice lady but her skin looks horrible, but I never criticized her, that’s what she needed to do to get through the day power to her.

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Work Anxiety: The worst kind of Co-Worker and how to deal with them

Most of us have to work. We do so to make money so we can survive and do the things we love. Now if you have been working, even for a week, you know you run into all kinds of people. It’s not just customers, it’s the people you work with and believe me there are some real idiots out there. A prevalent problem for many is problem coworkers. Even worse are the problem coworkers who are not dealt with by management.

The good news is we have a hot job market; it’s never been easier to get another job then it is right now. Leaving a job is no small thing though, particularly if you have anxiety. So what is this “worst kind of Co-Worker”? it’s the coworker who has no authority over you, but they have power. Let me explain with a few examples. You work in a dept. that produces widgets, you have been there 2 years your coworker has been there 12. You do the same thing, have the same title etc. but because of their tenure they have power, or at least they THINK they have power.

Another example is someone who has a narcissist or “strong personality” you know the type, the person who can never admit they are wrong, they never apologize. Maybe your company tolerates this person because they need bodies or your boss just sucks too. So this person isn’t necessarily in a higher position then you they just exert power because no one will put them in check. Including you, you have anxiety you don’t want conflict. These coworkers are the worst kind, they have no authority but they have power so how do you deal with them?

I work for money so I can live a good life and do the things I love.

There are a couple of ways really, but most create even more toxic situations. You can go to the boss, that may or may not be the best idea only you know if your boss is trust worthy. You can go to HR, which IMHO is always a mistake. HR departments are marketed to be for the employees but it’s actually the exact opposite. They are there to protect the company from legalities involving employees. It’s been my experience that when you go to HR you put a target on your back, don’t do this unless you are prepared for all sorts of B.S.

The last best solution? Is ignore the coworker. Now this will result in that person reacting, but again we are in a situation where this person has power but not authority. When you ignore them, you remove their power so you now put them in a position by which the only way they can enforce their power is by using authority (which they don’t have). This creates the situation where they are forced to over step, and then you have them.

Now by “having them” I mean they have created a situation where you are forced to either comply or there is a consequence. This is when you use one of the responses below:

  1. “Let’s go talk to the manager, if she says I need to do that, then I will”
  2. “I am going to do my job first, if I have time later I will do yours”
  3. “No”

Each one of these has the potential to create a serious melt down but you’ve done something remarkable here. You have changed the power dynamic; you are now the one with the power. You see the equation is simple, and human interactions are predicated on this simple equation. Someone wants something, they want you to do it, you do it because you benefit. Both people in the equation benefit, prior this person was the only one benefitting, with anyone of the response above you begin to benefit as well.

Work is work, these people aren’t your friends. They might want to be, you might consider them to be, but at the end of the day you do work to obtain a benefit (mostly wages). Don’t put up with any crap at work, particularly in this job market. YOU have the power (for now), companies need you more then you need them. Start flexing.

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Anxiety: 5 Quick tips to reduce stress and anxiety at work

I know, I’ve done these before but these never get old and are critical for all of us who have anxiety issues. Let’s face it, work plays a huge part in our lives, we need income to survive and from plumbers to CFO’s we all get stress inputs via expectations from work. Maybe you thrive on it, or maybe you cringe from it. If you are having a bad day at work and need quick relief here are 5 things to try.

1. Have plants: When you’re stressed at work, water your plant, prune it a bit, touch it. Often when we care for another entity, plants, people, pets we create positive feelings within ourselves. This can translate into a temporary emotional boost and get you through a tough moment.

2. Go home: I know, this is probably not on the top of peoples list but hear me out. Companies give people sick time and vacation time as a benefit of their employment. If things are horrible at work one day, bag out early. I mean this isn’t going to stop you from thinking about it, but you’ll be thinking about it in a comfort setting (your car, your home) rather than wallowing in thought at work, the source of the pain.

3. Call your parents: If your parents are no longer with us, call a family member. You don’t have to dump the stress on them but just call and say hi. If you call mom or dad they are going to figure out quickly something is wrong and comfort you, that’s what parents do, the great ones anyway LOL.

4. Indulge your sweet tooth: Look I’m not telling you to go on an eating binge here but have something to eat that you enjoy. Chocolate? Doritos? An apple… Doesn’t matter, sometimes eating provides comfort and while unhealthy eating and overeating can prolong and enhance negative emotions associated with anxiety there is nothing wrong with indulging once in a while.

5. Address the issue head on: this is the most challenging depending on your workplace but if the source of the stress is an individual, a project or the work in general talk to your supervisor or HR. Companies want productive employees and if you don’t tell people there is a problem, you can’t assume they know one exists. If you tell them at least you know they are informed.

Look none of these are wonderful catch all solutions to work stress, but you need something. I work in a high stress environment; I know I have anxiety issues but I am dealing with it. How do you deal with it? I have one woman at work that every hour on the hour she dips out for a smoke break. Really nice lady but her skin looks horrible, but I never criticize, that’s what she needs to do to get through the day power to her.

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3 reasons why the younger you are the brighter you work future looks. 

In this post we are going back to the workplace to give some of our younger reader’s encouragement. The last major work force shift was via globalization. Many of you are too young to remember a time when globalization WASN’T prevalent. When everything wasn’t made in china, as an example. I’m not here to say globalization is good or bad, but it’s an example of how work can change dramatically.

The latest shift was hastened by the pandemic that is the “great resignation” which coincided with a huge increase in people working from home. This shift is evolving but similar to globalization this will have a dramatic impact for the next 20-30 years. Globalization didn’t happen overnight, it took decades and now it is here. The “great resignation” impact is being felt now but it’s really just beginning. This is why the younger you are the brighter your work future looks.

Why? Three major reasons.

  1. Remote work – in 2015 remote work was a novelty now it is main stream. It’s not going away and its upside is hard to quantify but I will try. Less time traveling to work, more opportunity to work at convenient times for you. More options for work. You see Remote work is a game changer in so many ways. Younger workers are going to be able to adapt quickly and in some cases hold more than one job making much more money.
  2. Boomers & Gen Xer’s – We are getting older. Many boomers have already left the work force. I will be gone in 15 years myself. There are more of us working in traditional industries then the younger generations (some Gen Z kids are still in high school). The more of us that leave the more positions that open up. The work isn’t going away, it still needs to be done and companies need someone to do it. This ties in to the point below as well but as Gen Xers age out of jobs you’re going to have more chances at middle and upper management roles, that’s where the real money resides.
  3. Birth rates – People are having less children and they are having them older. This really started with my generation xers. Many of us had our kids in our 30’s and our family size dropped from prior generations. This trend is continuing, along with lower marriage rates as well. The bottom line is there will be less people in the workforce coming in 20-30 years from now. So the 20-40 year olds working now? Things look good for you here, newer, younger cheaper versions might not be so plentiful in say 2050.
Working from home?

I know conceptually some of this might be a stretch but it’s not out of the realm at all. I think most of these suppositions are actually highly probable. It could be that we experience another huge labor force shift on a shorter time span then normal (they usually happen every 35-100 years). Technology is moving quickly so it might be global companies have an even broader pool of candidates should they continue to evolve remote work.

Either way I think it bodes well for younger workers. I think in 2050 the people turning 40 will have very good employment opportunities and income levels should be very robust. This of course doesn’t account for anomalies like pandemics, war, environmental disasters. Let’s not kid ourselves things could go badly, but if things remain the same as they are now I think working in the next 20-30 years will be easier. You will have better options, more availability and a greater pool of employment opportunities.

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One of the hardest things to do when you have anxiety

Maybe it will be in school, maybe at a family function, maybe at work… At some point in your life its highly likely you are going to have to speak in front of strangers. For some of us this can be crippling and send our anxiety through the roof. For others, they dont shut up anyway, lol.

In life its often the case that we are asked to speak or called on particularly at work. Remember in high school (maybe your still there) when you were called on in class? Same theory really, as you enter the work force you’re going to be in meetings from time to time. You might be called on. Talking to a group of people is one of an anxiety suffers worse nightmare.

So many thoughts run through your head it can be nerve wracking and it can literally cause you physical harm. This post focuses mostly on impromptu speaking, like being called on randomly in class, or being asked a question in a meeting at work.

You are being asked to speak because the person asking thinks you have something of value to add. There are times when someone might ask you something to literally put you on the spot, which is cruel but more often then not people who want to hear you speak on a subject genuinely value what you have to say. That’s probably the hardest thing to realize when you are “on the spot”.

One step closer every day.

In an instant you can be overwhelmed with this situation. Below are 3 things I have always done before meetings to make sure I was moderately prepared. These will enable you to have quick talking points should you need them. These can be applicable to school situations as well. However work is different as we are being paid to be there and there is a level of expectation that is much different then a learning environment.

  1. If I know the meeting is coming I educate myself on the subject.
  2. I run down quickly in my mind, who is calling the meeting, what their role is and why I think they are calling it.
  3. I look to see who else is in the meeting and identify allies.

More on 3. In any work situation, or life really, look for allies. People who are genuinely friendly to you may share a common mindset etc. These people may not be your friends, but you need allies in life to help you through tough situations. If you are in a meeting with one of these people, you can lean on them. Literally you can mimic what they said, they probably won’t be offended. You can look at them as you speak.

Speaking publically can be challenging for a lot of us, anxiety aside its not easy to stand up in front of strangers and speak on the subject. You dont know what they know, you have no idea what you sound like to them. That can be the trigger for crippling bouts of anxiety, before, during, and after the talk.

Life can be a roller coaster at some point you’ll likely be in this situation. Some work environments are very toxic and people who know you have anxiety can be sinister and actually create situations where you have to talk to a group, knowing full well it will create a huge negative impact on you. That’s the reality of the working world, its filled with all sorts of people.

Sit up straight, take a deep breath and speak clearly. If you are nervous, make a small joke about it. If you know the subject matter, elaborate, if you dont know create an out proposition “I need to get more information before I speak into this matter” something like that. If you have anxiety issues speaking publically can be one of the serious pit falls ahead. Many people cant handle it, and thats okay too.

Be ready for it, as best you can. Practice your posture, practice looking at people, practice speaking in a clear voice, note your hand gestures, note how other people handle it. These are skills and tools you will be able to use for decades to come, they are applicable anywhere. From getting the attention of a server at a resteraunt to presenting a report to the board of directors.

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India

Indian Workers seek Robots?

Once again we visit with our friends in India on the subject of Anxiety and Mental Health. For those of us in the West we sometimes forget that our friends in India, over a billion actually have very similar mental health issues that we do. Sure societal norms are different but at the end of the day we all have social, economic and political pressures we deal with that affect our mental health.

I found an interesting article here That discusses a recent poll that asked Indian workers if they thought robots were better suited to help with mental health issues then humans. A whopping 91% said they would rather talk to a robot then their boss about stress at work. I don’t have the complete statistics on the study, the number of people, the control etc. but I thought it was interested and worthy of a post.

From the article: “Nearly 93 per cent people said their mental health issues at work negatively affect their home life while 95 per cent of those surveyed believed companies should be doing more to support the mental health of their workforce. For the Indian workforce, 65 per cent feel that they are working more than 40 hours per week and 32 per cent feel the burnout from overwork. “There is a lot that can be done to support the mental health of the global workforce and there are so many ways that technology like AI can help. But first, organizations need to add mental health to their agenda,” said Emily He, senior vice president, Oracle Cloud HCM.”

stressed-out-woman
Anxiety doesn’t care about your ethnicity.

The context of the article delved deeper into the work place and work place culture in India. Clearly it’s a very stressful environment. Add Covid to the mix and PRESTO you have what was stressful now is toxic. Work isn’t meant to be a bed of roses and simplicity, I think we can all agree on that. However when you have over 90% of your workforce saying the work environment is negatively impacting their home life that is very alarming.

My Indian readers certainly don’t need me to tell them how bad their work environment is, it has to be toxic with those numbers. It’s no wonder they would rather talk to a robot, they would likely get more empathy then from their boss. I’ve been in bad work situations before, I’m in a great spot now and super thankful for it. Regardless of what culture you are in when there are aspects of your life that negatively impact your home life, your sanctuary if you will, that’s critical and has to be addressed ASAP.

What do you do though? You need money so you have to work. Human Resource Dept.? Ya right they have never dealt with a pandemic and these kind of conditions either, they are winging it too. I’d love to say “hey things will get better hang in there”, ya they will but I don’t know when. I can tell you in the States things are still crap here. We won’t get back on the right track socially anyway until the presidential election is over.

I wish I had some great advice for my Indian friends. If talking to a Robot helps, do it. If you are one of my Indian readers just know that this blogger gets it, and so do many others in the west. We understand that stress levels around the globe are spiking. We are rooting for you, just take it one day at a time and enjoy the small pleasures when you can.

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Separating work and personal time

Like many people I have a home PC I use for personal use. I have a lap top, I just do. I have another lap top for work. I have an I phone. I have multiple ways for people to get in contact with me. For a long time I would tell myself “I need this work”. I would get emails, calls and text’s at literally all hours of the night. Now none of this was unexpected, I knew what I was getting into, I was a manager. Today? Everyone is connected, even the AP staff at my current company. That’s not a slam on them for being lesser, rather it’s an indication of how connected to work many of us have become.

I found a good article here on the subject of boundaries between work and personal life and how it can increase your stress.

From the article: “Most people simply can’t work without a smartphone, tablet or laptop computer,” said Dr. YoungAh Park, a professor of labor and employment relations at Illinois.

“These technologies are so ubiquitous and convenient that it can lead some people to think that employees have to be always on or always available. Clearly, this kind of after-hours intrusion into the home or personal life domain is unhealthy, and our research shows that an always-on mentality has a big downside in the form of increased job stress.”

The article does a good job of mapping out how the “intrusion” of being “always on” can increase job stress. Job stress can be a trigger for larger anxiety issues and being “on call” is a slippery slope for many of us with anxiety. How many times in your career have you laid in bed the night before a big day at work and worried about the days outcomes? I have DOZENS of times, and it sucks. Now at 3AM when I can’t sleep I can start working again if I want…

So how do we combat this? For some of you this isn’t a big deal, you don’t have these work expectations and or hooks into your life. If that is the case that’s awesome, believe me it sucks when you wake up in the morning and your boss has already lined up 3-4 emails for you. How to fight it? You work 9-5 (as an example), at 5 the work persona goes off.

That means, the devices you use for work get shut off. It also means that people at work don’t have access to your personal email, phone, Facebook whatever. Take the time and start working on creating two online presences, one for work and one for your personal life. I am a gamer, I write a blog… No one at work knows who “Karac Avalron” is. It took me a while to separate from work in a timely fashion. I am a manager, people still want me to be available after work hours.

In the end I have been diligent and do not reply to emails after a certain time. Everyone in my immediate work circle knows this now but it took time to achieve it. You can do it too, it takes time and effort but in the end, disconnecting from work, after work, is critical to helping you manage your anxiety.

Interested in more posts on how to disconnect? Check out this post here.