Sunday, January 12, 2014

5 Tips for Dealing with Anxiety

For those of you struggling with workplace worry, I've put together some coping techniques:

1. Redirect your worry to an area within your control

Rather than worrying about whether the latest office re-org will leave you deskless or if your BCL might have accidentally violated the One-China policy, why not worry about something more manageable?  I suggest bear attacks.  Talking loudly, singing, or carrying a "bear bell" can alert bears to your presence and help prevent maulings.  Whereas your co-workers will be rolling their eyes at your mispronunciation of the Turkish Prime Minister's name for many years to come and there's nothing you can do about it, one can purchase a bear bell at any sporting goods store, and they attach easily to your briefcase or badge lanyard.

2. Set aside 'worry time'

Allowing yourself a prescribed time each day in which to revel in your deepest fears and stresses can help you to put off sudden moments of anxiety and emphasizes the typically ephemeral nature of our concerns.  Many doctors have identified Monday to Friday from 9 to 5 as the ideal 'worry time'.

3. Engage with your environment

Sometimes work-related worries can leave us feeling "trapped," a feeling easily countered by standing up, stretching out your arms, and touching both walls of your cubicle simultaneously.  (Note:  make sure to first remove the log-in card from your classified system so as to avoid a possible security violation.)

4. Focus on the positive

A great way to keep from getting stuck in a worry rut is to allow yourself to focus on those things that are bright and positive.  Try repeating to yourself, "Hey, at least I'm not working on Syria!" or "Isn't it great that State is the only government agency that allows alcohol in the workplace?"

5. Ask for help

When worries become so overwhelming that they are interfering with your daily activity, don't let the likelihood of a medical clearance demotion leaving you permanently trapped in DC keep you from seeking the professional attention you need.