How to deal with anxiety at work

So I've been a little quiet on the blog front recently. My contract was coming to an end at work, so I was on the job hunt. I've thankfully managed to find a new job and it's one that's similar and a lot closer so I can walk to work (although it's a bit of a hike) which is ideal for me really. I've just finished my second week.

Obviously a new job just creates new challenges for my anxiety, so I've put a little post together looking at what I've been finding most useful...

How open do you be?

I suppose there's a fine line between being open about your mental health and being professional. I didn't want to go wading in there and announce that I have panic attacks, because I feel it can be detrimental to people's opinion of you (even though it shouldn't). But I didn't completely hide it. I casually mentioned that I have to cut down on caffeine because it makes me anxious (see below) and when one day when the whole "fight or flight" reflex kicked off big style, I excused myself and went outside until the shaking stopped. When I returned I chatted to one of the girls I sat with and explained that I used to have panic attacks (lol 'used to') and she completely understood. Anxiety and depression aren't that uncommon so I think it's important not to try and hide it, otherwise it'll just eat you up inside. In fact, at my new job they list 'depression' as one of the options if you're filling out an absence form, which I really appreciate (even though I don't think I'll ever need to use it, I hope so anyway).

Ease up on the caffeine

I love coffee, almost as much as a Gilmore Girl. But even I know caffeine and anxiety don't mix. For the past year or so I've limited myself to one coffee a day on weekdays, and try not to have anything too strong. At work I pretty much exclusively drink water, although I'll occasionally have juice. In two weeks I've had three or four coffees, and only once has it really lead to me being anxious. Success! Even though it's a pretty crappy substitute, instant coffee is the way to go.

Find your stall

I watched a video by Lex Croucher the other week and she mentioned something that left me thinking "I thought it was just me". In her 3 Christmas Parties video she said "Top Top: you should always find a toilet cubicle you feel comfortable in". I wholeheartedly agree. I did it at my last job and I've already started in my new one. You find a cubicle and make it your safe space. Obviously it's there for using, but a toilet cubicle is a good space to escape if you need a breather. Work through your breathing if you're panicking, have a cry if you're sad, check your social media, make that place somewhere you can be on your own for a few minutes. Just remember to wash your hands afterwards...

Keep busy, use headphones if you can

It's not really possible in my new role, but headphones can really help. Even if you're not listening to anything, you can just put them in and block out the noise of the office for a while. But music can help, as well as audiobooks. By keeping your brain distracted, you can ride out the ebbs and flows of an anxiety attack. And of course the best way to do that is by keeping busy. Starting a new job can be tricky, as it's unlikely they'll lump a huge load of work on you immediately, but try to keep yourself occupied as much as possible. Having a panic? Work on a spreadsheet, do some filing. do anything as long as it's not just sitting there feeling anxious!

As I said, I've been in my new job for two weeks and it's been far from easy. But it hasn't been a complete disaster and I'm proud of myself for keeping myself going. Roll on Christmas!

Do you have anything that helps you cope with anxiety at work?

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