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How to cope with anxiety at work

Woman at work looking tired

Work. We’ve all had days where we have to show up, even though pulling on some stretchy pants, wrapping our mitts around a hot tea and walking from bed to the sofa to the fridge are the only things we think we can manage. Whether you experience anxiety, or are prone to unpredictable panic attacks, there are small things you can do to help yourself. 

In New Zealand, your employer is obliged to reduce your workplace stress as much as possible, so if you think the cause of your anxiety could be related to an excessive workload, lack of autonomy or other stress-inducing conditions, you can bring this to their attention if you feel comfortable to do so. 


Let your manager know

If you trust your manager and feel comfortable talking to them openly, arrange a meeting or write them an email and let them know about your anxiety and how you like to manage it. Sometimes panic and anxiety can arise from feeling out-of-control or trapped; knowing that your manager is aware that you might sometimes need to excuse yourself to work through your feelings may relieve tension. And if you don’t feel comfortable talking to your manager…

Colleagues talking in a cafe

Let your workplace bestie know

Not everyone is lucky enough to have a close friend at work, but if there’s someone you can count on, perhaps even just a kindly co-worker who can be discreet – explain to them that you are prone to panic or anxiety. If you feel yourself becoming overwhelmed, you can shoot them an email or take a walk around the block with them. And if they’re not available…

Woman with laptop and coffee in a cafe

Master some quick relaxation tricks

Leave your desk if you can and make yourself a cup of tea; make it as slowly as you think you can get away with! Enjoy the walk to the kitchen, and take your time returning to your desk. Download a guided meditation that’s just a few minutes long and listen to it in the bathroom or at your desk. Take three slow, deep belly breaths. If you’re feeling like you’re about to react badly to something or someone, or panic is rising in your chest, burn up some of that energy walking around your building; go buy a drink from an off-site café, or simply go outside and call someone to talk to them about what’s happening. You’re never truly trapped, even if it feels like it sometimes. Take care.

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