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Thursday, February 2, 2012

Got Anxiety at Work? How the Media and the Economy Don't Help



It's no surprise that more people these days are suffering from anxiety. Most of this anxiety and stress stems from the sluggish economy and the constant worry of a job loss. And if it's not a job loss, then the "survivors" at work are enduring increased work responsibilities. Many are scared of taking a vacation or leaving their Blackberries and cell phones turned off at night or on weekends. Many reason that if put in more hours, their bosses will pass them over during layoffs. Maybe so, but at what cost?
The media does help fuel this stress by reporting on a weakened consumer confidence (the consumer sentiment index fell to 73.6 from 74.4 in January, according to Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan. Economists surveyed by MarketWatch) and a slow recovery. But what can we do about it?
The first thing we need to realize is that anxiety can be overcome in small increments and that we don't need to let it control all of our waking lives at the expense of our health. Those who suffer from constant anxiety experience high blood pressure, loss of sleep, low morale, difficulty concentrating, headaches, and stomach upset. Even if you don't experience these symptoms, anxiety can wreak havoc on your household and make your kids more anxious. Lastly, anxiety can make you gain weight since stress and anxiety increases the stress hormone, cortisol. Cortisol stores fat in the stomach area, which increases your chances of heart disease and stroke. Additionally, more stress causes more eating of non nutritious foods.
Even if you think being a workaholic will keep your job safe and make you more appear more dependable, this tactic will hurt you in the long term. You'll crash and burn and/or be more susceptible to illness.
Find Ways to Cope with Anxiety at Work
The first thing to do when dealing with anxiety is to acknowledge you have a problem. Then you have to commit to a relaxation and/or stress reduction program that will force you to make some changes. These changes may seem unreasonable at first, but they're necessary to reduce your stress and prolong your life.
• Organize your time by using a Dayplanner to schedule out tasks. In the morning, write down three tasks that you need to get done by the end of the day. Also organize your work space - throw away mail and email you don't need. Break up large tasks into smaller ones.
• Do your best work when you feel it's your optimal time. That can mean 4am or 5pm, depending on your bio-clock.
• Take frequent breaks of 20 minutes every 90 minutes. Don't eat lunch at your desk.
• Get enough sleep and that means 7-8 hours a night.
• Take a week-long vacation that's in a different zip code for true rejuvenation.
• Eat smaller meals and eat healthy snacks. Drink alcohol in moderation.
• Practice relaxation techniques which can be as simple as doing nothing for 30 minutes everyday. Try walking, deep breathing, yoga and meditation.
• Exercise for 60 minutes at least three times a week. Try a new class or combine aerobics and free weight lifting.
• Turn off the TV before bed if the news stresses you out. Try to find positive news stories and read uplifting articles and columns to shift your negative thinking.
As mentioned above, reducing stress and anxiety does take work and some time to fall into a healthy habit. Try recruiting your friends and family to make sure you leave work at work and that you're not checking your Blackberry at the family dinner table. With a little work at relaxing (how ironic!) you'll see a difference in your social interactions and physical well-being. You will also see an increase in your work productivity and counteract those naysayers in the media.
Nancy Travers, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, specializes in all types of relationships; dating, existing relationships, family relationships, and relationships with friends and business relationships. She also helps her clients overcome anxiety and depression through talk therapy as well as through hypnosis. What sets her apart from many other counselors is that she has counseled in the gay/lesbian community for over 10 years. She also has experience counseling families with elder care issues. Nancy has been in practice for over 15 years and can provide you with the tools you need to approach dating and relationships with confidence. Visit her website at
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