How to handle workplace anxiety

Roughly three out of four people deal with work-related stress or anxiety. Anxiety can affect your performance at work and your relationships with colleagues, so, how can you overcome these challenges?

Reducing anxiety at work requires more than mindfulness or a Friday Yoga Class – You must look inside yourself and ask how you function within your team and the company as a whole. Do you pipe up in team meetings? Do you try to work from home a lot to avoid confrontations? There are a few strategies to help you feel more in control and help reduce your anxiety levels

Communicate with Teammates & Be Present
Trying to make an effort to talk to everyone on your team will make it easier to address any future problems. You don’t want to go around and talk behind someone’s back to vent about an issue, talk to them directly. Though it might be difficult at first, you can reduce your anxiety by approaching the individual and communicating the facts of the situation. Don’t think it’s too late to start building relationships with your teammates. You never know, you might end up finding trust in someone whom you can open up with in regards to your anxieties.
It’s instinct to avoid people who make us uncomfortable, and the workplace is no exception. Avoidance is only a temporary solution, and you need to start being conscious of tackling these issues head-on. The more you do, the less anxious you’ll feel over time.

Know When to Ask For Help
Pride is always hard to manage, and it’s no different in the workplace. You need to learn how to start saying “yes” to others when they offer their help. Work will always become hectic, and a helping hand could be a straightforward step to avoid any sense of being overwhelmed.
If you’re not sure about a specific responsibility that your manager gives to you, don’t be afraid to pipe up either. Your superiors will appreciate all questions – it shows that you genuinely care about your job!

Avoid the Office Drama & Don’t Bring Work Home
Even though office drama can be entertaining at times, it ultimately makes your environment stressful and can lower everyone’s morale. Don’t let that negativity grow! When someone talks poorly of others, try to change the subject or call them out if you’re so bold. If we all start encouraging others and lifting them up when needed – the positivity will become infectious!

There will be times when it’s not all sunshine and rainbows, and it’s hard to hang up your work hat at the end of the day. If you’re like me, it’s imperative for you to switch off and relax. How can you do this? Well, to be honest, it’s something I still struggle with at times! I found that having an end-of-work habit sometimes helps. The last half hour of my workday I reserve for tying up my loose ends at work while listening to “Epic Film Scores.” The act of putting on this music can unwind my anxious mind while my countdown to home begins

Change Your Habits
Small alterations in your day-to-day activities can drastically help reduce your anxiety. If the majority of your day fixates on your monitor, get up and move! Taking regular breaks throughout your day can give you a renewed focus and might even make you more productive.

Access Resources
If things at work are too severe for your anxiety, reach out to your manager or supervisor and ask if there is an Employee Assistance Program. EAP’s can connect you to different resources to help manage your anxiety. Many workplaces offer a couple of free counseling sessions; you should most definitely take advantage of this!

Although anxiety is an unpleasant emotion, it can be an opportunity for you to grow in your career. Show others that you can face anxiety in the workplace rather than run away from it or complain about it.

How to plan a wedding with anxiety

If you are reading this article, it can mean one of two things: you’re either planning your wedding and need some advice or, your friend is, and you’re wondering how in the hell she’s surviving everything!

Anxiety is the most common mental illness in Canada – you’re not alone. Fear, stress, and nerves are normal feelings and experiences for us. It can creep up on you at any moment and interfere with your daily activities either at work or home. Planning a wedding is hard enough and can almost seem daunting if you struggle with anxiety.

Your anxiety won’t go away during your wedding planning. There are, however, some tips and tricks to help you throughout the process!

  • Get Organized
    Planning a wedding is a challenging task, and you’ll need to get yourself organized. If you’re like me and cannot afford the splurge on a wedding planner try out these simple things:
    a) Sign up for The Knot
    This website is FULL of fantastic articles and pictures. What sold me immediately on this site was their “To-Do List” which they categorize by month for you, so you don’t feel so overwhelmed
    b) Create a Pinterest board
    One of the fun things to do while planning a wedding is to get inspired. Sometimes with an anxious mind like myself, I find it hard to get creative. Browsing through an endless amount of photos can spark some fire!
  • Figure out your Budget
    Oh boy. the tough topic! Talking to the parents/guardians on how they can support you financially! It’s tough to overcome confrontations, but this chat needs to happen. If they cannot offer you any money, do NOT agonize. Paying for your wedding can be nothing but rewarding – your way, your say! Not to mention with all the DIY projects online you can cut costs very drastically.
  • Not everything will be perfect
    As much as you want the day to pass by without a problem, it likely won’t happen. This is OK
    You’re surrounded by so much love and affection that you most likely won’t even realize if anything wrong happens. In my case, I gave my maid of honor the “Day Of Duty,” meaning that whatever happens the day of, they go to her directly. I grew up as a perfectionist, so it was hard to delegate this responsibility. You need to realize that this is your day and you need to enjoy it!

  • Ask for help
    This relates back to what I was saying beforehand – Let’s say this out loud: Asking for help is not a sign of failure.
    Once your to-do list gets created, you’ll realize it’s hard for one person to do all the tasks oneself. Not only will you have your fiancée and immediate family close to you but you did ask some of your best friends whom you trust to be your bridesmaids, they should be the first people you ask! This is what they’re here for; Try to delegate tasks to their skills. Example: My friend Alana is a very creative person, so I asked her to help me design my centerpieces.
  • Don’t forget to make time for yourself
    This is the tough one, planning a wedding is almost like taking on a second job to some people. You need to make sure you don’t cross the lines of personal and job stress. Something that helped me get through the motions was making sure that I took out 15 minutes of my time to stretch. I also caved in and shelled out some extra cash for a half hour massage (YES PLEASE). You’ll realize that once you make time for yourself and clear your head a little, you’ll be more energized and less anxious to dive back into the planning.

This should be an exciting time for everyone involved but don’t forget to keep an eye on your anxiety. If you are feeling overwhelmed it will be best for everyone for you to take a breather instead of worrying about that pesky caterer.

Know when to take a break

Last weekend was a long weekend in Canada, and instead of stressing over what to write about for my next topic, I decided to ditch the computer and laid in my hammock instead.
Even though the weekend was filled with our usual day-to-day activities, I knew that I was burning out. There are so many things that I’ve been thankful for over the years, but I think the biggest thing to have turned my life around was knowing and accepting when I was overstretching myself. One of the first things in CBT Therapy is to recognize when you have an automatic thought with triggers. It’s still a work in progress but starting to realize when I need to cool off has been so incredibly beneficial for my well being.

I know that identifying this in oneself can be hard, so here are some tell-all signs that you need a break

  1. Motivation
    Uh-oh, where did this go? You’re finding it difficult to do even a simple task, making it impossible to get any work done. When your passion starts to feel like a chore, it’s time to rest up. Don’t push yourself because that definitely will not help get any motivation back. Focus your energy on other things; you’ll be surprised when inspiration hits!
  2. Irritation
    I don’t know about you, but when I overstretch myself, I get easily irritated by those surrounding me. My husband can attest to this! I know that I need my alone time – separating yourself from others is a great way to recharge those batteries
  3. Insomnia
    Thinking if penguins have knees at 3 am? (They do!) If any thoughts are keeping you awake at night, more so than usual, get up and do some stretches. Focusing on something relaxing might make those pesky thoughts go away, and you might get some sleep! Lack of sleep will always make you feel worse so try to get away from the environment that’s making you restless.
  4. Anxiety Attacks
    This is the number one sign that you’re overwhelmed and need a break. Mix in irritability with a dash of Insomnia and BOOM; you’re experiencing an attack. Don’t be ashamed; you’re stressed out! This is the perfect time to do something for yourself: write, draw, dance, you name it!
  5. Off-Perception
    I don’t know about you, but when I get overwhelmed my sensitivity spikes up tenfold. If my Boss comes up to tell me some constructive criticism during these moments, I would ultimately take them the wrong way. If you find yourself tearing up over these types of interactions, it’s time for a break. Please do not have the “no days off” mentality, because that’s toxic. Take the days off that you need to be in the best mental shape.
  6. Crying for no reason
    If you’re struggling and living on the verge of tears each day with your day-to-day activities, you’re in a hypersensitive This is OK; it just means all of your emotions are at the tip of the bottle, and the only way to get them out is to cry. Remove yourself from the stressful situation and just let it all out. Trust me; you’ll feel better once it’s done. You’ll be able to control your emotions afterward J
  7. Head is spinning
    A big red flag of mental exhaustion is dizziness and nauseousness. Just because your mind is tired doesn’t mean your body won’t follow suit! These symptoms should not be ignored – get the relaxation that you need.
  8. Detachment
    I hate this one the most. You’re numb; you’re senseless, you’re apathetic. You don’t care! You should care. You should care IMMENSELY about yourself. You can overcome anything that’s thrown at you. Time for rejuvenation, STAT.

Have you noticed yourself experiencing any of these signs? SHARE this article with someone who seems stressed so they can get the help they need.

What not to say

When I was younger, I didn’t know how to express myself adequately. I was dating at the time and to try and get my point across on specific issues I would write out how I wanted to say it. I still can recall the shame that I would feel, fumbling over myself as I would grab the crumpled letters from my purse. My boyfriend at the time couldn’t understand why I couldn’t articulate face-to-face, and I wish that I could have told him everything, but I was embarrassed.

I was embarrassed because that’s how I was taught to feel. At this point in my life, I was still living with my Adoptive Father and Stepmother who didn’t know how to handle me. Relentlessly I was told that everything was in my mind, it’s my fault for feeling this way, and I needed to snap out of it. There were others things mentioned, too, but I won’t go into that now.

The guilt that I was feeling became more palpable as the years went on and my condition worsened. I realized that I was blaming myself every day for my anxiety and my atmosphere was not helping in any way. It wasn’t until I was living in another province that I started to heal as a person and grow.

Feeling invalid for all of those years through different people took a toll on me, so here’s a list of what not to say to a friend/family member who is experiencing depression or anxiety:

  • It’s all in your mind
  • But you have nothing even to worry about
  • Stop complaining all the time
  • I always knew you had a problem
  • There is nothing even wrong with you
  • Stop looking for attention
  • You don’t look anxious or depressed
  • You aren’t pushing yourself enough
  • It sounds like you are going crazy
  • You need to stop feeling sorry for yourself
  • No one ever said life was fair
  • You are always no negative
  • It’s your fault
  • Things aren’t that bad
  • Things could be so much worse
  • Just snap over it. Get over yourself
  • You need to get out more

Driving Anxiety

Not too long ago my husband and I were living in the city – as an anxious person, this always caused more stress than needed. Driving was the worst part for me, so much congestion and no one following the fundamental laws made my heart palpitate. I would find myself cringing at the fact of needing to drive. At a certain point, I decided to sell my car and rely solely on transportation.  When I mentioned this to a friend one day all she could say was “Oh, that’s bad.”

In the end, city living wasn’t for us, and we decided to move out to the suburbs. I took what she said to heart and needed to get over my anxiety of driving. Driving in the suburbs was a little easier, but a lot of people still don’t follow the laws. The most significant issues that we have are slow drivers (I’m talking 5km/h) and drivers who do not use their signals to switch lanes. I usually find myself doing the majority of my breathing exercises in my car. They help, sometimes.

On June 12th, two minutes away from my house I encountered a driver that made me incredibly anxious. He was two clicks ahead of me and was going so incredibly slow that I had to slam on my breaks at 20km/h. I had a quick decision to make, cause significant damage to the front end of my car or cause minimal damage by shifting my car into the left-hand lane.  I chose the latter, and all parties pulled off to the side to put their four ways on. I immediately jumped out of my car to give this person a piece of my mind (Thanks, Adrenaline!) but as soon as he saw me walking over to his car, he pulled his window back up and just took off. Appalled, I called up my husband immediately to start naming off his license plate number. In retrospect, I know that wasn’t the best idea, but I was livid about this accident and wasn’t thinking straight. My whole body was in shock and started to shake as I dialed 911 – the woman on the other end tried to calm me down as I explained what just happened but I just couldn’t. I exchanged all information that I could with this woman, took pictures of everything, and saved the tears until I buckled up to drive home.

When I entered my house, my legs gave out on me, and the humidity outside turned my body red. I dropped to the floor as a tightness in my chest began – my breath was slowly dissipating. I managed to grab my inhaler in my bag through the gasps of breaths. I was on the verge of a panic attack, and I needed to calm down. As I laid on the hardwood floor, the whole scenario flashed before my eyes again. How could he just take off like that?

I immediately called my insurance to relay all the information that I could – Unfortunately, my husband was working and couldn’t grab the entirety of the license plate for me, but I did send him in a panic through my cries over the phone (sorry!). Due to the nature of what happened, I am considered at fault for this accident. I gulped down the information as best as I could, kicking myself over the fact that I didn’t grab that plate number. This is my first accident as a driver, and I guess you can say that I learned my lesson on how to react if it ever happens again.

I won’t let this affect me driving, though. Facing my fear is the only way I can tackle this anxiety head-on.  I could easily say I will never drive again but “oh, that’s bad” will keep repeating in my head over and over. All I ask is for everyone to be safe out there, please drive the speed limit and always put on your signal when switching lanes.

The Sun Is Going To Rise Again

My heart breaks.

Mental health is not a joke, and we should not look down on it. We need less judgment and more compassion. More check in’s and fewer shares of one meme “suicide hotline.” I urge you to check in on all of your friends, correctly.

In a week, we lost two celebrities to suicide, but there are many others that we’ll never hear about who did the same. Trying to place yourself in both Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain shoes are hard. They both genuinely believed that their children would be better off without them – Can you imagine how much pain they were in to think that?

We lose, roughly, 2160 people a day to suicide and it’s heartbreaking to keep seeing these rates go up. When we want to reach out to someone we need to stop looking down on them. From your wealthiest to your poorest friends, we all struggle with life. Instead of judging each other on which platform they stand – why don’t we encourage and lift others up? Where have we failed as a society to lack such empathy?

While undoubtedly chemical antidepressants have some value and should remain on the table, we need to radically expand the menu of options for people who are depressed and anxious to deal with the grave, underlying reasons why we feel this way.

For those that are struggling with depression – I urge you to hold on. If you’re depressed, if you’re anxious, you’re not crazy. You matter. You’re loved. This is not your fault. You won’t be able to cure this on your own, but, there is hope. Your presence on this earth makes a difference whether you see it or not.

Save Paragraph. Read Again. Repeat.

Basement Remodels, Anxiety Hell

I’m at the ratty end of a basement remodel, and I am feeling so depleted from it all.
Everyone usually warns you of how you and your partner will be whenever a renovation happens, and even though I fully expected it to happen, I still wasn’t prepared for the emotional drain that it has put on me.

I am quite opinionated whenever it comes to big projects like this, but I decided to take a step back and let my Husband be the project manager. I’ve done the ordinary tasks with no shame. Cleaned up all the debris, knocked out all of the nails of baseboards (in record time, I might add!) and tried to come to a solution on colors and organization. I know I could do more, but I’m trying to respect his decision and stay out of his hair. Saturday morning we got into a fight of how he feels that he’s doing the majority of the work and I just wanted to rip my hair out!

Even though he has taken the brunt end of most of it, he hasn’t asked for much help on my part. I kept offering my help many times, but I stopped at a certain point since he never accepted it. I have a lot of experience when it comes to hands-on work, and I never shy away from a hammer so it’s tough for me to accept that I’m not as involved as I’d like to be.

After our little spat, I started to shake uncontrollably. As my eyes darted back and forth, I began to question a lot of the decisions that we made and looked inward on our relationship. I immediately knew that I was over thinking, but I couldn’t shake off my anxious feeling and started to cry because I wasn’t in control. My husband caught on quite quickly and jumped over the newly grouted tiles so he could swoop me into his arms to calm me down. We stood motionless in our basement as he caressed my back gently to help regulate my breathing.

I hate my anxiety.

I hate that something like this can come out of nowhere and make me so incredibly doubtful of everything.

I hate when arguments lead me to question my relationship with said person.

Do you know what I don’t hate, though? My husband makes me feel like a ‘normal’ person when I can’t see it in myself.

After this, we went to pick up our paint colors and finally agreed not only on the hues but the placement of them. Instead of going home immediately, we went to a local burger joint and took a well deserve and needed break from our mess of a house. It’s always crucial to make sure that you don’t forget who you are as a person and who you are as a couple, knowing that we both needed that space away from our project was our blessing in disguise.

We spent the next day painting the majority of our basement, and I’m happy to say that we’re both feeling relieved that we’re in the home stretch!