Do you feel pressured by deadlines, responsibilities, and complex projects at work?
Unless you’re superhuman, you probably do. Work-related stress is an all-too-common issue the vast majority of professionals across all industries cope with – not to mention entrepreneurs.
We’ve sort of learned to accept it as a matter of fact – we manage the daily operations and keep the stress under control, but every now and then the workload expands (somewhat dramatically) and that fine balancing act we’ve maintained masterfully for weeks, maybe even months, goes to pieces. Pair it with responsibilities and circumstances outside your work life, and you’ve got yourself feeling like a hot mess.
That’s when we feel anxious, overwhelmed, and desperate to grasp some resemblance of order, both internal and external.
If this sounds all too familiar to you, it’s important to know that you’re not alone – and that there are ways you can manage these overwhelming pressures. Here are some helpful tips for fighting work-induced anxiety and finding balance.
Acknowledge your co-workers as teammates
When faced with an overwhelming workload, many people create a barrier between themselves and their co-workers, trying desperately to deal with their anxiety all on their own.
But what if you didn’t push back the people who are most likely going through the same thing at that very moment and who have the clearest insight into your situation at work?
Perhaps your company doesn’t promote a team culture, but that doesn’t mean you can’t bond with your co-workers and foster the team spirit. When things get tough, team members help each other by providing empathy, motivation, and energy, or they may even quite literally step in for each other and help out with certain tasks.
So, the next time you feel anxious and overwhelmed by your workload, don’t internalize it. Tell a co-worker what you’re going through, ask for help, don’t eat lunch alone – lean on your team for some support.
Ask for support from friends and family
Your co-workers are not the only ones who should know what you’re dealing with – it’s important to create your safety net, which can’t be complete without your friends and family. Tell them what you’re going through and what’s troubling you the most about the current pressures. And don’t think you’re burdening them – after all, that’s what friends and family are for.
It’s better to vent right away and let them know the issues you’re dealing with than to let the anxiety build up, suffer in silence, and lash out at some point. That’s how you’ll avoid turning work stress into home stress. When loved ones are clued in to what’s going on, there will be no misunderstandings on both sides – only then can they give you the emotional support and the space you need.
Take care of your body
When tensions rise, it’s more important than ever to take care of your body. This wonderful mechanism, where all the pieces are closely intertwined to form your physical and mental wellbeing, needs to be nurtured so it can help you push through.
Any kind of exercise is great for relieving stress, so dedicate at least 15 minutes a day to an activity you like to get your blood pumping. Trust me, you’ll feel better for it, and yes, you can find 15 minutes in your busy schedule. Be sure to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, avoid alcohol and other stimulants, and try to get enough sleep.
Sleep can be an especially tricky issue when you’re fighting anxiety, but if the stress is keeping you tossing and turning at night, try to avoid sleeping pills. It’s always better to find a natural solution, such as plant-based stress support supplements to promote healthy sleep because unlike sleep meds, they have no side effects. These types of products can provide you with stress-relief by managing levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, with the help of natural ingredients known as adaptogens.
Set boundaries and find your relaxation rituals
You need some serious you-time, otherwise you’ll burn out completely.
First things first, set clear work-life boundaries to the best of your ability. If boundaries are something you’re especially having trouble with, it’s okay – start small and you’ll get there. For example, dedicate a 100% work-free hour each night.
Take that time to reset both mentally and physically. A relaxing daily routine that you truly enjoy helps you maintain a sense of order and calm amidst the chaos. Maybe it’s pursuing a hobby that you love, watching your favorite show, doing a relaxing beauty routine, or taking a hot bath each night before bed – whatever works for you.
When you think about the overwhelming workload and you have no idea how on Earth you’re supposed to get all that done on time, the panic is bound to settle in.
Take a deep breath and step back. Not everything is urgent.
Grab a pen and paper and write it all down, one by one, then assign priority rankings to each task. Think in small steps, focus on time management, and develop a day-to-day plan for tackling the monster project. You’ll feel a lot calmer when you have a battle plan and when everything is put on paper rather than swarming around your head.
Work inevitably gets overwhelming from time to time, but the only way to handle this anxiety is by maintaining your perspective. Remember that this will pass and use these tips to help you get through it. Lastly, although humor may be the last thing on your mind in uptight situations, do try consciously to find a bit of it every day – it really heals.
Caitlin is a bookworm and recreational dancer. She is also a medical student in love with science in all its forms. Her fields of expertise could be summed up in psychology, productivity, and well-being related topics. When she is not trying to find the meaning of life and Universe, Caitlin is researching and writing about various health-related and well-being related topics. She is happily addicted to art in all its forms, grilled tofu, and hiking. To see what Caitlin is up to next, check out her Twitter dashboard.
Hi friends. This post is going to be the most personal one that I’ve ever written. It’s going to be very personal and emotional and at times hard to write, but that is the exact reason that I wanted to write it. Because it needs to be talked about.
You see friends, for about a year and a half, I’ve been struggling with depression and anxiety.
What?! DEPRESSION?!? No no NO! It’s not cool to even say the word depression, let alone admit that you might have it, right?
The word depression is a lot like the word Voldemort. People are terrified to even say the word. They cringe at even the slightest whisper of it. If you are brave enough to speak the word then you better beprepared to face the intense social backlash that comes with it. This is why I’m sharing my story with all of you. It’s time for me to talk about it. It’s time to end the stigma.
I know what you all might be thinking. There’s absolutely no way that Court could be depressed, right? She always seems so happy and chipper and always willing to make people laugh and always having such a good time with life! Well, that’s exactly what I thought myself. There was just no way that I could be depressed. It could NEVER happen to me because I’m Courtney Liebl and nothing ever gets to me or brings me down!
As it turns out, I was very wrong about that.
About a year and a half ago, I started feeling out of sorts. I didn’t feel like myself. I just attributed it to the stress of senior year of college and always worrying about classes or homework or the ever-impending doom of graduating and going into the real world. I just kept telling myself “don’t worry about it, you’re fine. All of the other graduating seniors are probably feeling the exact same way that you are so just suck it up and deal with it.” So naturally, the school year came and went and I graduated and all that jazz and I just swept it under the rug and sucked it up and that was that. I realized that the real world was coming whether I liked it or not and so I just put my mental health on the back burner for the time being.
But that’s the thing with depression; it will lie dormant and quiet for however the hell long that it pleases and then when it’s ready it will come along and show its ugly face whether you’re ready or not. Depression doesn’t care who you are. It doesn’t give a shit how nice of a person you are or how much money you have or how great you think your life is. Depression just does not give a shit.
Recently, the depression has decided to creep back into my life and has slapped me in the face harder than anything I have ever experienced before. At first, I denied it. I ran as far away from it as I could. I was so far deep into denial that it wasn’t even funny. Because again, it wouldn’t be cool of me to admit that I suffer from a mental illness, right?
So for about the past few months or so, I’ve been really struggling with it. Add into the mix extreme anxiety and it was like a mental health tornado that I couldn’t escape from. All of the things that I love to do that would usually give me so much joy just seemed like a chore. I used to love to go to the library and aimlessly wander around and look at books because it was one of those simple things that made me so happy. Now just the thought of having to get up and go out in public to get to the library fills me with extreme dread. I used to love to go grocery shopping because it was weirdly one of those things that was very soothing to me. But now it makes me so terribly anxious that it takes me about three days to summon the courage to even make it into the store. Even answering texts back to my friends and family and talking with them, which has always been the thing that brings me the most joy, has lost the happiness that it used to bring me. I even joined a gym because Legally Blonde taught me that endorphins make people happy, but I stopped going after two times because my depression was saying “why even bother?”
My anxiety has gotten so bad that I am constantly in a state of panic and stress. When it seems that things are at ease and my anxiousness is at a stand still, that lovely little anxious voice inside my head rears its ugly face and brings up all of these completely irrational scenarios or things that could go wrong and then my anxiety just goes bananas. It has gotten to a point to where the only thing that I really look forward to anymore is sleeping, because it gives me a chance to escape the feelings of dread that my depression brings and to shut my brain off for a few hours.
I knew that I had a serious problem. I knew that I was dealing with an illness that wasn’t going to go away on its own. I knew that I had to reach out and get help. It took me almost an entire month to work up the courage to even tell a few of my close and dear friends what was happening. My anxiety told me that they would judge me and think that I was weak for feeling this way. One of my dear friends pointed out, “that voice of anxiety may be powerful but it is NEVER right.” So I finally admitted that I had a problem.
That was the first time that I had ever told anyone what was happening.
That was the first small step that I needed to take in order to move forward. Because this is a marathon, not a sprint. And any steps forward, no matter how big or small, are positive steps in the right direction. That one small step of reaching out to my friends and family has already helped tremendously, and it’s given me the courage to call and schedule an appointment with a professional. It took me about three more weeks to work up the courage to make the call to set up the appointment, so I would consider that about five steps in the right direction!
I know that I have a long and tough journey ahead of me. Hell, it’s already been a long and tough journey already. I know that there will be very good days and there will also be very bad days. That’s one of the most frustrating things about depression; sometimes I’ll have a week where every day is great and I feel awesome and then sometimes there will be a stretch where it will be nothing but bleak and grey days.
I’ve learned to just take everything day by day. I’ve also learned that those bleak and dreary days sure do make me appreciate the good days that much more.
I hope that by sharing my story with all of you that I’m able to help someone else who may be struggling. I hope that I’m able to give someone else the courage to speak up when they feel like there’s nowhere else to turn and they feel lost. Always remember that your mental illness does not define you. You are not weak. You are not a burden. You are not your mental illness.
I have depression and anxiety. My depression and anxiety do not define me. I am not weak. I am not a burden. I am stronger than this mental illness. I am not my mental illness.
Did you know that you have a natural anti-anxiety hormone?
Women have a hormone that is produced in the ovaries and the adrenal glands that is like valium bathing the female mind. It helps reduce anxiety and is known as the peaceful hormone. It also helps us sleep soundly through the entire night.
What is this amazing hormone? Progesterone.
Progesterone acts on the gamma amino butyric (GABA) receptors in the brain (the same receptors sleeping pills, anti-anxiety medication and even alcohols act upon), producing a calming effect. GABA is the primary inhibitory transmitter in the brain. If you wake between 2am and 4 am wide awake, you likely have a progesterone deficiency.
Progesterone also affects the elasticity of our skin, memory, is anti-inflammatory, is a natural diuretic and helps normalize blood sugar. It also stimulates that cells that make new bone called osteoblasts. Translation, it keeps us looking and feeling our best!
Unfortunately progesterone leaves our bodies first and leaves us quickly. You can have a low progesterone level as early as your late 20’s! Many women think that their increased irritability, los of enjoyment of life and trouble sleeping if from their 24/7 lifestyle but it is likely more often due to a progesterone deficiency
Here are 7 common symptoms associated with low progesterone:
- Waking at night
- Fibrocystic breasts
- Bone loss
- Low libido
- Infertility or irregular periods
Here are 3 simple and natural things you can do to help your own body produce more progesterone:
- Vitamin C. A dose of 750-1000 mg has been shown in studies to raise progesterone in women.
- Selenium. 200-400 mcg/day was shown to boost production of progesterone in an Italian study.
- The spices turmeric, thyme and oregano are also useful for progesterone. Use in cooking whenever you can.
Topical progesterone is also available over-the-counter.
If you find that it takes a bit more energy to keep your cool or that you are no longer sleeping through the night I encourage you to look to progesterone as a way to help. You can go to www.drtami.com and take a free hormone quiz to see where you might lie and what you can do with nutrition, supplements and lifestyle changes to feel even better.
Remember, fine is a four letter word. You deserve to feel FABULOUS!
Dr. Tami Meraglia is double board certified MD in Cosmetic and Integrative Medicine, who focuses on hormones and ways to boost and balance them. She has a particularly unique knowledge on testosterone in females and how it affects everything from weight loss to sex drive. Her approach is to use natural remedies such as nutrition, targeted supplements and real life stress tools that are both physically and mentally effective, to treat her patients. The Hormone Secret is her first book was released April 14, 2015.
Image courtesy Flickr