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Thriving together

Understanding anxiety and how workplaces can assist


Anxiety is a natural part of life, but there are times for many when the feelings of anxiety impact our daily lives. Whether this is in or out of work, we need to understand what has brought us to this point, how we can make changes and workplaces have a role to play in adapting environments to be more inclusive.



Making friends with anxiety is about acknowledging its presence without letting it control or define you, ignoring it or pushing it down creates further issues. It involves developing a healthier relationship with your anxiety, understanding its triggers, and learning coping mechanisms to manage it effectively. This will be different for us all there is no one size fits all as we are all unique human beings. Here are a few ideas to start this journey.


  • Acceptance and Understanding: Acknowledge that anxiety is a natural part of life, and it's okay to feel anxious at times, it doesn't make you less than others. Notice when you feel anxious, say help to it and try not to let it run away with you. Anxiety may be part of you but is not all of you, change your narrative.

  • Mindfulness and Meditation: Practice mindfulness techniques and meditation to cultivate awareness of your thoughts and feelings without judgment. This can help you detach from anxious thoughts and regain a sense of calm. Finding control in the breath can calm the nervous system which goes into overdrive when we feel anxious.


  • Self-Care Practices: Prioritise self-care activities such as exercise, adequate sleep, healthy eating, and relaxation techniques. Taking care of your physical and emotional wellbeing can help reduce anxiety levels. It is not selfish to prioritise yourself it is essential to keep well and thrive.


  • Challenge Negative Thoughts: Learn to challenge negative or irrational thoughts that contribute to anxiety. Replace them with more realistic and positive perspectives. This is not easy and takes practice, 1st notice these stories our mind tells us, maybe write them down. Now see if you can reframe that thought, what would you say to a friend in this situation, say the same kind words to yourself.


  • Set Realistic Goals: Break tasks into smaller, manageable steps and set realistic goals for yourself. Celebrate your achievements, no matter how small, to boost your confidence and reduce anxiety. Building self esteem by doing things you love, hobbies, sports creative pursuits etc also reduces anxiety.


  • Establish Boundaries: Learn to say no to commitments or situations that are stretching you too thin. When we feel overwhelmed our anxiety can increase. Establishing healthy boundaries can help you manage stress and prioritise your wellbeing. It is ok to say no both in and out of work, your time is precious.


  • Practice Gratitude: Cultivate a gratitude practice by focusing on the positive aspects of your life and noticing the little moments. This can help shift your perspective away from anxiety-inducing thoughts. Keep a gratitude journal or pop gratitude's into a jar- great for going back and reading as well.


  • Professional Help: Consider counselling or CBT to learn more about your anxiety and develop strategies to manage it. Giving yourself space to explore what works for you is the ultimate self care activity.


Workplaces


Many people experience anxiety in the workplace. It is key for employers to understand and design an inclusive environment that supports everyone. This will not only lessen anxiety but also improve performance. Just like plants, we can all thrive if the conditions are right.


  • Leadership is key in fostering a supportive work environment, leading by example by prioritising wellbeing, allowing people to know it is ok not to be ok. Being open and inclusive, listening to employees' challenges.


  • Create a Supportive Environment: Foster a workplace culture where employees feel comfortable discussing mental health without fear of stigma or discrimination. Leaders who acknowledge their difficult times allow others to feel they can do the same, building a culture of understanding and compassion.


  • Provide Resources and Education: Offer resources such as Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs), mental health workshops, and educational materials on anxiety management techniques, links to charities, a variety of options.


  • Flexible Work Arrangements: Allow for flexible work hours or remote work options to accommodate employees' needs. Think about how you communicate with employees if working remotely, for example, ensure there are regular points of contact. Ask what employees feel would be helpful, do not assume.


  • Promote Work-Life Balance: Encourage employees to maintain a healthy work-life balance by setting reasonable expectations for workload and encouraging time off for relaxation and self-care. Long working hours, not taking lunch breaks, unrealistic targets, and toxic workplaces will all increase anxiety.


  • Training for Managers: Provide training for managers on how to recognise signs of anxiety in employees, offer support, and make reasonable adjustments when necessary. How to ensure managers are part of the solutions not part of the problem. Managers who understand the impact of their style on others and can adapt.


  • Create Safe Spaces: Designate areas within the workplace where employees can take breaks or practice relaxation techniques. Think about the level of stimulus in a busy environment, this can lead to over processing which can increase anxiety. A calm environment with plants, quiet areas and access to daylight makes a huge difference.


  • Wellbeing activities: Opportunities to undertake activities within the workplace, yoga or mindfulness sessions, walks at lunchtime, healthy eating initiatives. These can all give employees the tools to look after themselves and also build a sense of community which builds self esteem and reduces anxiety.



Anxiety is becoming more common, maybe due to our 24 hour society, not allowing our brains to be quiet or the pressures of today's society. Whatever the reasons if as individuals we get to understand ourselves better and spend time calming our nervous systems we can change our relationship with anxiety. Workplaces have a role to play in being supportive rather than toxic spaces, enabling everyone to thrive and be their best version.



You might also want to read my recent blog about my anxiety to help you understand how unique this journey is for everyone.


Anxiety Uk has some great resources to help you understand anxiety and helplines if you need to speak to someone.




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