If you live with anxiety, managing stress at work can be complicated. How you cope with the everyday pressures of deadlines, special projects and long hours shapes your life professionally.

It’s important for you to understand what triggers your anxiety and to have a plan for tackling those situations so you can move forward.

Recognize what makes you feel anxious

How you respond to stress is unique. Only you can best identify situations that upset you or issues you find particularly sensitive.

To help you cope with these circumstances, you might want to keep a journal of the events, people and situations that trigger negative responses. For example, take note of:

  • Your location
  • Who you were with
  • How you felt at the time
  • How you reacted to the situation

At the end of the evaluation period, look for any trends. Was it a specific individual who sparked the anxious feelings? Were you in a certain room that made you feel uncomfortable? What time of day did these events take place?

All of these findings can help you identify when you are feeling anxious so you can begin to understand why you were uncomfortable.

Create a plan to move forward

Once you identify what triggers your anxiety and recognize the situations that are the most stressful for you, consider making changes to how you handle these pressures at work. Designing a plan to help you take charge and resolve your concerns can alleviate tension and minimize the hassles you deal with on a daily basis.

  • Create a personal wellness plan — Eat right, get enough sleep, exercise and participate in activities that make you happy. Stay connected with friends and family. Whether it’s walking your dog, joining a book club or going to a sporting event, find time to unwind and forget about work for a while.
  • Personalize your workspace — Hang artwork, bring in photos of friends and family, buy a plant. If your company allows it, rearrange the furniture to make yourself more comfortable. Try to stay organized. Keep everything you may need during the day where it’s easy to reach.
  • Create an open and honest workplace — Gossiping and venting about co-workers can build tension. Try changing the subject or simply leaving the conversation. If there is conflict, try to keep it between you and the person with whom you are having the disagreement. Stick to the facts and reach a resolution peacefully by discussing what both sides think rather than feel. Seek out conflict resolution through human resources if you need additional support.
  • Set realistic deadlines, and don’t be afraid to ask for help — Know your limits. Don’t agree to complete a project in three days that you know will take two weeks to finish. Be sure to ask for clarification on assignments and get help understanding how to complete a task. Stay in contact with your team and approach problems head-on.
  • Rely on the resources available to you — Most workplaces offer an employee assistance program (EAP) with access to mental health professionals 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You don’t have to go through this alone. Talk to a professional who can guide you through this time in your life and help you focus on a resolution.
  • Take time off — Relax, gain a new perspective and come back refreshed. Time off doesn’t have to mean two weeks on a beach somewhere. It can be a quick walk around the building, running a few errands before a lunch meeting, or a short break to get a cup of coffee and a muffin at the local café.

Maintain a positive perspective

After you have identified your triggers, develop a plan to manage your stress levels. Knowing that you are not powerless in these situations can help you maintain a positive outlook.

There may be times when you need to adjust your strategies. For example, you may be assigned to a new project or have to work with someone who has a different approach than you. Hang in there. You have the ability to find a positive solution and resources that will help you both personally and professionally. Don’t hesitate to make a call and take the steps to get there.

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