There’s no denying it, we millennials work hard… In fact, we work arguably too hard. From the minute your alarm goes off until you go to bed, Monday to Sunday, there's a pressure to be on call, whether it's answering emails or Instagramming your life.
Gone are the days when your day job was, well, a 'day job'. Our careers are now often so intricately intertwined into our everyday lives that it’s often hard to draw a line between them. Even if you really do love your job and honestly don’t mind replying to emails at 3am, there is no denying that work anxiety can get the better of all of us sometimes.
It happens (to more people than actually admit it)... That dreaded feeling creeps up and you start panicking, your mind gets overwhelmingly full and fuzzy, and you can’t even work out how to start dealing with it — let alone have any hope of being productive at work.
Sound familiar? Here are 5 tips on how to not only overcome the dreaded ‘panic’ mode, but also how to minimise the chances of it coming up again...
I know this sounds far too simple, but it is hands down one of the best ways of bringing yourself back down when anxiety has taken hold.
Tip: The moment you feel stressed, close your eyes, place you hands on your belly and inhale deeply through your nose and into your stomach for four counts, then exhale slowly back out of your nose for six counts. Repeat for as long as you need to, and extend the inhale and exhale periods as you start to relax.
Most commonly used as a quick pick-me-up, caffeine actually stimulates the production of cortisol, more commonly known as the stress hormone. Therefore when you are tired, low or stressed and reach for a coffee for that ‘kick’, you are actually encouraging your body to produce more stress-inducing hormones, which will most definitely not help your work anxiety!
Not only should you avoid caffeine when feeling stressed or anxious, but looking to minimise it in your daily diet will also help improve your sleep, energy levels and digestion.
Tip: Swap for ginger tea, ginseng tea or just a good old glass of water for a natural pick-me-up.
Although work phones and laptops have given us freedom to experience a new way of flexible working, it has also brought with it a whole host of new problems — mainly the inability to switch off from work.
This constant expectation to be ‘on call’ means that the stresses of work does not end when you leave the office, fuelling the feelings of work anxiety as you continue to ‘work’ well past your clock off time.
Tip: Be strict with yourself. Turn your work phone off when you leave the office and at the weekends, and don’t turn it on again until you are on your commute back in. If this isn’t feasible then set yourself a deadline such as turning your phone off by 8pm or making the bedroom a ‘phone free’ zone to give yourself a break from the emails. Using it for alarm isn't an excuse, just buy a clock!
4. Try Something New
When we are going through a stressful period at work, the first thing which usually get’s pushed aside are our out of work activities such as exercise or seeing friends. This makes matters so much worse as not only is work stressful, but it has suddenly become your life as you don’t have anything left to take your mind off it.
Tip: Taking up something new, such as baking or a new exercise class. Committing to doing it regularly will immediately help rebalance you work/life balance and also get you doing something just for you. Making plans during the week that you commit to not cancelling will force you to leave the office and then help to put your work stresses into perspective as you start to reprioritise your life outside of the office.
5. Eat Yourself Calm
Food has a huge effect on our mind and stress levels. Eating lots of high sugar foods and caffeine will pump adrenaline through the body, even if it’s natural sugars, and this will increase the likelihood of your anxiety.
Tip: If you start feeling particularly anxious or stressed, you should look at incorporating ‘grounding’ foods into all of your meals. This concept comes from traditional Chinese medicine that each food has a unique energy that can affect your body, either ‘grounding’ or ‘elevating’ you. Key foods to help ground you are root vegetables (sweet potato, carrots, beetroot, ginger) and high quality protein (eggs, nuts, organic meats).
(Follow Lucie Lemay on Facebook and Instagram, and check out her website for recipes and 'inspiration and tips for simple healthy living in today's busy world'. All pictures are from Lucie Lemay/Instagram.)
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