Four Tips for Coping with Workplace Anxiety, Misery, and Stress

Fatimah Gilliam Founder, and CEO The Azara Group

February 09, 2017

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Have market and industry changes made you feel uncertain about your future, job security, and earning power? Are you expecting a wave of layoffs and the uncertainty is stressing you out? Are you often overwhelmed by feelings of dread on your way to work? Do you hate your job and are you biding your time until you find a more suitable role? Is your boss or job making you miserable? Do you feel underpaid, overworked, and unappreciated - causing you to walk around the office with a chip on your shoulder or under a dressing cloud of doom and gloom?

No matter the reason, if you are having a difficult time feeling motivated to go to work each day but quitting your job is unrealistic in the short term, then it is time to make some changes in your life so you can endure for the time being. You need a plan to either "exit stage left" or increase your happiness quotient. You need to implement action steps to help keep your head in the game.

The last thing you need is to be perceived as bitter, broken, defeated, overly pessimistic, or checked out. People do not like working with negative people who drag them down and suck them into their unhappy vortex of stress and anxiety. This could lead to your being placed on an improvement plan, "managed out" of your job, or put on the hamster wheel heading nowhere.

Here are four tips to help you manage through this challenging time and start feeling positive about your career.

  • Find Small Ways to Be Happy or Cheerful - Work on Your Mental Sanity

  • First and foremost, you have to make a concerted effort to work on your mental well-being. You will feel the crushing weight of your unhappiness and discontent if you do not look for small ways to find pleasure in your work, joy during the day, and fulfillment with your contribution. While you cannot snap your fingers and fix everything that is wrong with your life or career, you can lean on whatever methods that work for you that make you happy - even if it is for small moments of time. The collective impact of micro-moments of pleasure could pay dividends in how you feel during the day.

    Listen to music that makes you happy, and create a song playlist that motivates you. Go for a walk and get some fresh air. Look at pictures of loved ones to remind yourself of the bigger picture and that people care about you. If your desk is in a dark place or corner, make sure you expose yourself to sunlight. When you complete tasks and check off your daily To Do List, pause for a mini mental celebration for completing the task. Do not get bogged down on how many other things still need to be completed. Instead, find satisfaction in knocking one item off, and then tackle the next one.

    If someone tries to bring you down or says something that is demoralizing, try not to internalize it. Remember the positive contributions you have made and maybe go as far as to remind them of them. Do not get sucked into a nasty verbal dog fight. Most likely, it will not be worth the time nor negativity that it will bring. You should go high when they go low. Without being a pushover or a carpet for others to walk on, take the high road by not being malicious or petty - just be professional in speaking up for yourself. Afterwards, take a short breather so you can start feeling positive for the remainder of the day.

  • Change Your Mindset - Make the Best of A Bad Situation

  • Yes, you may feel like the deck is stacked against you. Possibly you are not paranoid, and the company or your department might be headed for the chopping block. Maybe people are stabbing you in the back and plotting to take you down. All of this could be true and adding to your anguish. Much of this could just be beyond your control.

    Focus on what you can control - your mindset. Rather than feeling hostile or betrayed, shift how you perceive your situation. Do not let feelings of failure or being on a sinking ship bring you down. While you may want to quit, tune everyone out, or literally curse at your colleagues, that may not be financially feasible nor professional.

    Think about what you can get out of your current employer, colleagues, and job. What client exposure do you need? What skills do you need to develop first? What internal and external relationships do you need to make?

    Leverage your job and those around you to better position yourself for your next big role. Consider each paycheck as a down payment on supporting you in securing a position better aligned with your talents and best suited for your work style. Evaluate what work environment and cultural fit allows you to thrive, and then seek out those opportunities.

  • Develop A Plan - Work on Your Exit Strategy

  • Once you admit that where you are now or your current circumstance is not working, you must develop a strategic plan with benchmarks, deliverables, and a timeline. If you know where you are heading and for what you are striving, it will lift your spirits and enable you to feel optimistic about your future and career.

    Many people will acknowledge they need a change and slowly start to work on finding a new position. However, to really make this happen, you have to be more proactive than most people and hold yourself accountable. Sit down and think through what you need to accomplish your goal - what experiences, contacts, and skills are critical for your ability to change companies or move into a new department. You need to start networking within your organization and externally. You need to revise your resume and speak with people so they know you are looking for a new position.

    Develop a calendar of what you are going to complete, who you are going to meet, which conferences to attend, how many lunches you will have, and what skills you will acquire by certain dates. You must be strategic, calculated, and diligent. It will take hard work and effort. However, this is how you will be more effective in landing the right role. Having a clear plan will make you feel better and make going to your current job more palatable.

  • Seek Help from Experts - Find A Coach!

  • It can feel daunting going it alone and having to implement change on your own - especially when developing your strategic action plan. You should seek the guidance of an expert who can advise you in navigating this process. You should considering hiring a coach to help you develop, structure, and implement your strategic plan.

    While you may have friends, colleagues, and mentors that you can turn to for guidance, they have busy lives and their own challenges to address. They can only dedicate so much time to helping you get ahead. At the end of the day, it is your life and career. You are the one who needs to own where your career goes and be responsible for any outcomes.

    An executive coach can offer strategic advice to guide you through this process while respecting your need for confidentiality. You should feel comfortable discussing your current situation in great detail in ways you cannot with mentors and colleagues. Consider making an investment in having a skilled trusted advisor dedicate her time towards supporting your success.

  • Final Thoughts - Find Solace in Knowing It Can't Last Forever

  • No matter how horrible things may feel right now, remember that it is only temporary. You are not an indentured servant. Thus, you have the freedom and power to move elsewhere. One thing that is certain in life is that disappointment is inevitable. However, misery is optional. How we deal with disappointment, defeat, and failure is what enables us to recover with grace, and separates the strivers and survivors from those who just let life happen to them.

    We can all bounce back from a bad situation. From small companies to Fortune 500 companies, the workplace is full of corporate casualties who felt like roadkill in one job but then managed to excel in another. Do not let your current circumstance defeat you. You may have taken a few hits, but now is the time to take action and have more control over how you feel about your career.

    By implementing these tips, you can begin to feel better. Once you welcome more positivity and optimism into your day and have a plan in place, those around you will feel it. Who knows - maybe things will turn around where you are once your attitude changes. Maybe by year-end you will be seen as the best asset on the team. In the meantime, hold your head high and be proactive!

    The Azara Group (TAG) is a consulting firm that promotes the development of leaders in an increasingly competitive and diverse marketplace - providing strategy consulting services and leadership training services to advance professional and life success. TAG leverages expertise in career strategy, diversity, negotiation skills, and business acumen to provide strategic advice and consulting services to help people and organizations get what they want, achieve their goals, and advance their business and career objectives. TAG also helps companies better attract, retain, and promote diverse talent, and develop robust diversity platforms and strategies to create a more inclusive workplace.

    The Azara Group welcomes your direct comments and feedback. We do not post comments to our site at this time, but we value hearing from our readers. We invite you to share your thoughts with us. You can contact us directly at [email protected].

    Opinions expressed by the author are not necessarily those of WITI.

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