How to alleviate workplace anxiety in three simple steps

By Dr Alka Patel
Lifestyle Medicine Physician Dr Alka Patel shares the three ‘A’s of managing anxiety to ensure it doesn’t get in the way of your life or career

As a business owner or entrepreneur, chances are you’ve experienced anxiety at some point. The restless nights spent worrying about a deadline or that unsettled feeling before an important presentation – we've all been there. And, while a certain level of anxiety can be a positive driving force, chronic anxiety can be debilitating, making it difficult to focus on the task at hand with a negative impact on your health. 

So, what do you do? Remember the 3 ‘A’s to alleviate anxiety:

Awareness: Raising awareness of your emotions starts by just noticing that you’re feeling anxious. Go from thinking, “I’m so worried” to thinking, “I’m noticing the feeling of anxiety”. Be an observer of your thoughts. You are not your thoughts. 

Acceptance: Let the anxiety be, give it space, and let it come and go. Remember, your mind is like the sky: it’s always there. But the clouds, they come and they go, just like your emotions and thoughts. Let your anxious thoughts drift like clouds without getting caught up in them. 

Action: If you do find yourself getting caught up in your anxiety, try the following actions: 

Get organised. One of the quickest ways for anxiety to escalate is when you feel like you're not in control. How do you change this? Take a few minutes each day to plan out your schedule. Use this 4D matrix to take a few minutes to decide how to prioritise your tasks: Do, Defer, Delegate or Delete. Getting your tasks out of your head and into a centralised matrix will help you feel more in control and less anxious.

Take regular breaks. This doesn't mean taking an extended coffee break or browsing social media for an hour. Instead, tap into your natural productivity cycles. We all have an ultradian rhythm that runs in approximately 90-minute cycles. After 90 minutes, you’ll often notice an anxious inner voice looming. This is your signal to take a break. Step into the sunlight, fuel up, hydrate, or take a walk – 20 minutes is ideal to allow your body and mind to shift gears. 

Practice relaxation techniques. Simple breathing techniques rapidly dissipate anxiety because how you breathe affects how you feel. Research has shown that slowing down your breath rate to six or less breaths a minute activates your parasympathetic (peaceful) nervous system and disarms your sympathetic (stress) nervous system. To control your nervous system, breathe in for a count of four and out for a count of six for 60 seconds.

Words: Dr Alka Patel


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