Career Mental Health

How To Deal with Anxiety in a Fast-Moving Career

Having a fast-paced career means lots of things can go off the rails and you are bound to be nervous as heck about what to do when they occur. However, there are ways to cope with chronic nervousness resulting from this thinking and mastering those ways opens a path towards a better overall quality of life.

“Anxiety was born in the very same moment as mankind. And since we will never be able to master it, we will have to learn to live with it—just as we have learned to live with storms.”

Paulo Coelho, author of The Alchemist

Schools have taught us to be career-driven, and society has kept reminding us to have a stable future, you must aim high. So, when you finally land the job of your dreams, your emotions are uplifted. After all, you have poured your blood, sweat and tears into reach this point in your life. When you are in the office, you cannot help but look at your surroundings and feel an aura meant to keep people going.

Suddenly, anxiety rears its ugly head.

Now, what do you do? No amount of high points in your life can prevent this sensation from coming alive. You have been dealing with episodes of anxiety up till now, but as soon as you are placed in a professional setting, that degree of anxiety just got magnified. That means more stressors and factors that trigger your anxiety. As the number of anxiety triggers grows, you will notice that you become more susceptible to anxiety attacks, which widen the number of possible areas that can make you feel easy. Without dealing with it properly, this pattern can grow exponentially and ultimately overwhelm your sanity.

Suggestions such as “everything will be okay” and “take a deep breath”, which supposedly help get rid of anxiety, do not work. What these suggestions are doing is that they are putting a bandage over a wound to stop the bleeding, but once that bandage is removed, the bleeding continues. It is addressing the source of the problem.

“In an era of stress and anxiety, when the present seems unstable and the future unlikely, the natural response is to retreat and withdraw from reality, taking recourse either in fantasies of the future or in modified visions of a half-imagined past.”

Alan Moore

It is usual for everyone to deal with some level of anxiety every day. However, there are some people who seem to not know when to take a breather. Their brain only recognises that work is life and thus, endlessly transmits signals to the nervous system. This pattern only reinforces the role anxiety plays in their everyday lives, and it is an area that they constantly address, otherwise called Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD).

People with GAD feel anxious and worried most of the time, not just in specific stressful circumstances, and these worries and intense, persistent, and interfere with their everyday lives. They may worry more than seems warranted about actual events or may expect the worst even when there is no apparent reason for concern. Their belief is that worry prevents bad things from happening. Hence, they view it is risky to give up worry. 

According to the National Health Service (NHS) in the United Kingdom, symptoms of GAD can “vary from person to person” but can consist of:

  • Feeling restless or worried
  • Having difficulty concentrating or sleeping
  • Dizziness or heart palpitations

As someone who constantly worries about the future, I am here to inform you that all is not lost and that you can break free of this state of chronic worrying. Continue reading to find out how you can cope with anxiety as your professional career takes off.

1. Be A Realist and Be Original

Setting yourself unreasonable goals will only lead you to burnout. Be frank if you are feeling overwhelmed. Being a career-minded professional means we believe we can deal with virtually everything that comes our way. However, there is such thing as being overwhelmed with too many obligations.

Stress, worry and anxiety simply come from projecting your thoughts into the future and imagining something bad. Stay focused on now.

Anxious people sometimes will agree to deadlines that they know very well they cannot meet. Most of the time, it is better to be honest upfront than to apologise later. Not all deadlines can be modified, but it will spare you from the anxiety attacks if you can be truthful upfront and work at a not-too-overwhelming pace.

Accept what you can manage. There is no harm in taking on a little more to challenge yourself but ensure that your work does not drown because you are nervous about what others will think of you. If you finish the job before the stipulated deadline, that will make you feel better about yourself.

So, be yourself. Let your ideas flow naturally. Your manager will express admiration for your perspectives and need to be the very best at what you do.  

2. Keep Everything in Order

“Organization is not about perfection. It is about efficiency, reducing stress and clutter, saving time and money, and improving your overall quality of life.”

Christina Scalise

When things are strewn all over the place at work, make it a commitment to note them down so that you know where they sit at a particular point in time and where they are heading next. Take as many notes as you need to comprehend the scope of your assignment and what needs to be done. Do not be shy to ask as many questions as you need too so that uncertainties do not stop you from completing the assignment at hand. Iron them out with your supervisor or colleagues who have done a similar assignment in the past. The whole point of this is to completely understand what it is that you are responsible for.

When you go over your task meticulously and are completely aware of the expectations, you automatically suppress your worries. A mind prone to anxiety is more likely to experience mini panic attacks and overcomplicate the simplest of ideas. Take control of everything mentally and organise them so that when you need to visualise all that is happening at work at a point in time, it is easy for you to do so. Whether you are organising them through Google Docs, Microsoft Word or any note-taking apps, it pays to stay organised through any means necessary.

3. Give Yourself a Pause Periodically

I cannot stress this enough. I once thought breaks were for the weak because I would instead complete all the tasks in one go, rather than delaying them. Whether your work is physically or mentally demanding, in order to remain productive, breaks are essential.

“Taking a break can lead to breakthroughs.”

Russell Eric Dobda

If you want to keep yourself fresh and preserve your professional composure, stepping away from the desk every once in a while will enable you to do so. Take a stroll to stretch those leg muscles of yours, grab a snack to satisfy your itchy mouth or have a conversation with your friend over WhatsApp for a couple of minutes before returning to work. Give yourself a couple of breaks, and you will discover that you are more alert, calmer and primed to tackle all the things that lie ahead of you for the day.

4. Practice How to Say “Om”

My apologies if that was too cryptic.

What I wanted to say is that to physically and mentally break free from the hassles of everyday life, this is perhaps the best advice I can give. I once thought yoga was meant to improve your flexibility by stretching your key muscles. That was solely because I had not tried it. I could not be more wrong.

Currently, I practice yoga two times a week. Not only is it a great way to improves your strength, balance and flexibility, but it relaxes you, resulting in happier moods and better sleep quality. Yoga focuses on obtaining a deep sense of awareness and mental clarity, a few of the many ingredients necessary to improve a person’s quality of life.


Final 2¢

Anxiety is terrible. There is no doubt about that. You could be under attack, and no one would even notice it because it is an inward thing. It feels like you are breaking down, and your thoughts are jumbled together like a lump of thread. You get this knot in your stomach, and you feel like you cannot take a deep breath, but outwardly, you look like a completely normal person, as long as no one tries to have a conversation with you.

Although anxiety is a part of life, never let it control you. Give your mind and heart a break. You will catch up. Although the world will not stop spinning for you, you will eventually catch up. You are not late nor early. You are on time. If you want to conquer the anxiety of life, live in the moment.

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