Thursday, May 1, 2008

Dealing with Workplace Worry and Anxiety

Learning to manage workplace worries and anxieties will not only allow you to think more clearly and get more done, but also reduce levels of stress which in turn will improve your health and allow you to relax and unwind more easily in your free time. So how can you tame workplace anxiety?

Imagine you are in a state of intense worry at work, with a million-and-one things piling up. Your mind is churning thoughts over and over, but nothing seems to be any clearer. You can't focus. You feel the pressure of anxiety building. But then a sudden knock at your office door, it's one of your best friends! What happened when there was a knock at the door? Yes, your worry suddenly vanished. Your worry may be interrupted by any number of things: browsing the web, accidentally stubbing your toe, reading the paper, or having your attention caught by something interesting.

Many therapists use the technique of distraction to try to control anxiety and worry, with one of the most popular methods having you wear a rubber band around your wrist. Eery time you get anxious snap the band against your wrist and say to yourself "Stop worrying" But -- and this is a very significant "but" -- using methods of distraction or suppression to try to control worry will only provide short-term relief; they will never get to the heart of the matter. In fact, trying to actively control your worry this way actually causes more worry...

For the next two minutes try this simple experiment: Try not to think about a pink poodle. Make sure the thought of a pink poodle doesn't occupy your mind.

As you have just found out, when you try not to think about something and push it away, more often than not it becomes even more fixed in your mind. This is because suddenly you're attaching importance to that thought. And if it's important, it's only natural for your mind to bring it to your attention. But not only that, trying to suppress or distract worry away leaves issues unresolved. By avoiding that problem or issue, it will never get addressed and will continue to float in and out of your mind as worry. The more you try to actively push away your thoughts, feelings and emotions, the more they will take on a life of their own.

Imagine if every time you became stressed you could turn off worry and then turn it back on some other time, when you are ready to address problems all at once, freeing up the rest of your day from anxiety. You may be thinking "That would be fantastic! But there is no way I can just turn worry on and off." The good news is that there is.

For the next week or two, every time you notice worry, don't actively engage with it. Instead you are going to recognize that a worry thought or negative feeling has arisen. Then tell yourself you will worry about this particular thing later, that this issue *will* be addressed, but not right now. And then continue with whatever you were doing before the worry kicked in. It's that simple. But don't confuse postponing with distraction. With this method you *acknowledge* the worry, rather than try and push it away. This is a subtle but vital difference. Also don't let the simplicity of this method fool you: it is a highly effective means of restricting worry from spiralling out of control. And the more you practice it, the more effective it becomes.

Have a set time for 15 minutes later in the day, when you come back and address any bothersome issues and problems. This is your worry time. During your worry time grab a pen and paper and write down all your worries and anxieties. Then create solutions to solve those problems. Postponing worry allows you to relax a little more in knowing that these worries will be addressed, but that they don't have to occupy your whole day. When this happens your mind is clearer and more focused, suddenly work becomes less of burden and more gets done.

Article by - Robert Good is author of Anxiety Zap, a comprehensive solution to either General Anxiety or Anxiety Attacks. Anxiety disorders are very common, through out most the workplace, with an estimated 10% or more of people suffering with the problem at least once through out their working careers.


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