I’ve found some healing in sharing my experience with mental health. This week, I want to share all of the ways in which I’ve learned to cope with work-related stress and anxiety.
Written by Her Soul Heals / Artwork by EIJA
My Breaking Point
In November of last year, I accepted a full-time role at a tech company that required me to move to a new state. Living alone for the first time in 26 years, and being away from friends and family, was a tough and stressful life change.
Because I was moving out of state, I was unable to continue seeing my regular therapist and stopped prioritizing my mental and emotional well being.
Although my work performance was fine, my health began to deteriorate as I drowned in work-related stress and anxiety.
After several panic attacks in the women’s bathroom at my office, the realization hit me that I was falling into depression and had to start prioritizing my mental health.
Although I still have some bad days, my stress has decreased drastically and I’m better able to manage my anxiety at work.
Hopefully, these tips help you as they’ve helped me!
- In office meditation breaks
- Working out
- Having a cut off time for work
- Detailed notes for weekly tasks
- Asking for help when we need it
- Having a weekly ‘Me Day’
- Getting 7+ Hours of sleep a night
- Prioritizing our mental health
Office Meditation Breaks
A few times a day, I take breaks to meditate in our office’s quiet room.
It took me a while to get into this habit, and I’ve found that on the days I’m diligent with meditating, my stress is noticeably lower. If you are unable to meditate at work, try meditating before work.
Sometimes, a brisk walk is all I need to feel calmer and more level headed. I currently workout with a personal trainer and do my best to go to the gym whenever I can.
According to the Mayo Clinic, exercising lowers stress and increases endorphins, our brain’s feel-good neurotransmitters.
Setting a Firm Work Cutoff
At 6 pm, I give myself a hard cut off from work, and transition back to my personal life. Even though it’s not always feasible, unless there’s a work emergency that needs immediate attention, an email can wait until the next day.
Prior to setting this boundary for myself, I obsessively checked my emails well into the evening, and even if it wasn’t urgent, I answered them. This triggered my anxiety and caused me to stress out unnecessarily.
Detailed Notes For Weekly Tasks
I am extremely forgetful – mix this in with stress and anxiety and you’re left with a recipe for disaster.
A few years ago, I started making detailed task lists and it changed my work life for the better.
I have a document I update on a weekly basis highlighting my weekly tasks, goals, and priorities. I also keep a notebook at my desk and use it to write down tasks that come up throughout the day.
Instead of being reactive and rushing to complete important tasks that slipped our minds, writing it down allows us to become proactive and plan ahead.
Asking For Help When We Need It
When we’re tasked with more than we can handle, delegating or asking team members for help is the definition of teamwork.
No one person is an island and taking on more than we can handle almost always causes us to sacrifice the quality of our work. When our hands are full, and we’re asked to take on more work, there’s no harm in respectfully saying, “I don’t think I have the bandwidth to reasonably take this on right now.” This is why keeping a detailed task list is so important!
Having a weekly ‘Me Day’
I’ve found a little oasis in Korean Spas. About once a week, I pack a little evening bag and head over to an overnight bathhouse. This is my own inexpensive way of decompressing and treating myself. Making time to treat ourselves, no matter how large or small, is so important for our mental and emotional wellbeing.
Getting 7+ Hours of sleep a night
A few months ago, I was sleeping less than 4 hours a night. My productivity suffered, I was experiencing short term memory loss and was nearly always tired and irritable.
According to the American Psychological Association, sleep deprivation or poor sleep can affect memory, judgment and mood. Sleep is an important function that allows us to recharge our mind and body. If you can help it, don’t skimp on sleep!
Prioritizing Our Mental Health
For me, therapy is like insulin. My mental health will always be something I have to consistently work on. When I initially moved for work, I de-prioritized finding a new therapist and overworked myself to my breaking point. My mental health deteriorated and I found myself in a dark place I thought I would never get out of — Thankfully I did, and if you’re currently in that dark place — You can too.
If you have any tips that help you manage work-related stress and anxiety, please share them in the comment section below.
Until next week!
Her Soul Heals