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Executive Voice

My Bout With Anxiety in the Workplace

No more than three years ago, I found out I was suffering from Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Upon receiving the diagnosis, I was almost relieved to receive an explanation for the way I was feeling especially when it came to the workplace.

In the months prior to my diagnosis, my professional life had become unbearable. I was feeling lost, confused, distraught and even suspicious in the workplace. I believed that at any moment my colleagues and managers would see me as a fraud. I second-guessed everything I said and avoided interactions with everyone, especially at meal times.

I was also beginning to suffer from panic attacks rather frequently. These were evident in episodes of crying, shaking and rocking back and forth in the workplace lavatory. In an effort to keep my condition quiet, I placed extra effort in my work and perfecting my results. As a result of the intense pressure I was placing on myself, I was hardly eating or sleeping. As my health began to deteriorate and I began suffering from anemia, I was compelled to visit a medical expert and hear their opinion on the matter.

The good news is that there are many things you can do to reverse a condition of workplace anxiety. Here are some of the things that worked for me:

Talking to someone I trust at work – One of the things that helped me in my condition was to be able to talk things out. I was lucky enough to find a friend who would look out for me and help build my spirits while at work. This was successful in reducing my anxiety by as much as 40%.

Recognise the symptoms –  many of us, and especially me, have had the feeling when anxious that something exterior has invaded the body and taken control. But I have been through this so many times that the symptoms of the anxiety are now easily recognized. This has been one of the best things as it helps me to reduce the panic in me at the onset of the attack. Once these symptoms are identified, they can be easily addressed. Some people like to walk in the fresh air, for others a brief moment of privacy can help to regain control of the moment. Speak to your manager about working from home sometimes. Here are some tips to work from home.

Learn some simple techniques – of course, it will not always be possible to step away when you feel anxious, but there are other things that you can try as well. Breathing exercises are one of the most effective methods of centering the mind and drawing your focus from the causes of anxiety.

Try and be healthy- another amazing way to gain a measure of control over conditions of anxiety is to improve your health and healthy habits. If you are eating well, resting sufficiently and exercising vigorously as a habit, the results will be experienced in every aspect of your life.

Even with all this helpful advice, I will admit that anxiety is still a problem, even for me. But with careful management, much of the debilitating terror of the condition can be managed.

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