How to Manage Work-Related Stress & Covid Anxiety
Please note, I have written this in context of the current Covid pandemic we are all facing.
Covid-related anxiety and work anxiety are one of the same thing. Being exposed to anxiety & stress on a daily basis is so draining & debilitating & can begin to manifest itself in physical symptoms – headaches, digestive issues etc as you may know. I hope I can help you, to remind you of tools that can keep your anxiety at bay. You may be aware of most if not all of these tools but we can slip into old habits or sometimes just feel a bit stuck & yet many of us know what can help, especially if you practice yoga. So let's take our knowledge off the mat & to where we really need it. Maybe some of the tips below will be real lightbulb moment for you, especially if you don’t practice yoga. I hope that there is maybe one or two suggestions that help you to feel less anxious, to feel a little more safe & help when you feel anxiety creeping in.
Work can be source of pleasure & inspiration or maybe not… We can meet friends & enjoy the most wonderful connections...aaannnd not so much. Work-related anxiety can show up & we need to bring the after-glow & blissed-out-yoga-vibes to where it's really needed.
The anxiety you are experiencing may just reappear or even completely surprise you as a “new thing”, it’s amazing what we can get used to, with many of us seeing less people as we have had to work from home. Many of us have had a long break away from work “situations” & we need to keep our calm. We don’t want to feel that niggling anxiety creeping back as we enter this new “normal”.
It is all in your ability to stay in “tuned in” & aware.
Many of us need to wear our “work armour” with certain colleagues but apart from feeling like you have to keep a barrier up (& that's ok as with some people it is needed) there are a few steps you can take to help you feel more in control of your emotions & increase your resilience.
I am completely biased here but I know how much this works. There is so much scientific research now that supports the benefits of a regular meditation practice
Try setting aside at least an extra 15 minutes in the morning, just for you. Before your house becomes noisy. This time is so precious, and if you are new to meditation try a guided meditation – sometimes you need to try a few, until you find a voice that resonates well with you (voices that are too soft or high-pitched don’t do it for me & I don’t like guided mediations that are REALLY woo-woo, just a bit of woo works for me). Try to keep a journal with you to acknowledge how you feel from this – go back to your journal notes to remind yourself of the benefits & subtle changes you are experiencing otherwise there can be a tendency to brush things off. Journal/notebooks are so helpful when you feel like you need to brain-dump information so it’s written down & out of your head, leaving you able to move forwards.
The Alpha brainwaves that occur at the start of your meditation will calm your nervous system, helping you to feel more peaceful and grounded. That feeling & glow you have after a wonderful yoga class or a walk in nature are examples of your brain in this state too.
It will help to decrease stress hormones & help with your “thinking” mind (the part where you replay past or imagine future conversations & scenarios) & increases Theta waves which in turn affect your creativity, sense of intuition & wholeness.
There is a beautiful “ripple-effect” experienced by meditation as your practice will not just affect your day but continues to ripple out to others – your energy will meet others & your resilience to usually stressful situations will grow tremendously. You will find that you respond rather than react.
Give yourself a moment & just take a breath into your beautiful belly.
Use your commute to work wisely.
Play amazing music that uplifts you – create a HAPPY playlist or an inspiring Podcast.
Avoid those “30 minute news updates” on the radio, protect yourself & be aware of what you pay attention to.
Music has can have an amazing effect on our wellbeing and so can your voice so SING - this isn’t a judgy talent contest, this is you and your voice, whether you’re pitch perfect or flat & tone deaf…just sing. The vibrations you create within your body have a wonderful effect on your Vagus Nerve – if you can’t think of a song to sing then go with the sound of the universe….. OM….AUM
Ease your shoulder back & drop the frown. Your body informs your brain, if it didn’t, we wouldn’t feel so amazing at the end of a yoga session, would we?
When we feel low, we want to curl up and we round our shoulders & when we want to protect ourselves. Simply open up, be aware of your posture, your shoulders & your neck.
Breathe from your belly.
Be super-conscious of your belly and your breath when you’re faced with a challenging situation or conversation.
Try getting into the habit of taking 1 slow breath BEFORE you answer or reply. Even then, consider whether you even need to respond.
(I used to consider myself an expert in “silence filling” – and I know it comes from anxiety. It is something I’m still aware of)
Silence is beautiful.
That & your smile.
Retreat - use your lunch time wisely.
If things are truly overwhelming, use your break/lunch to reconnect with YOU. Take yourself off & if you enjoy the guidance, find an APP or podcast that lights you up or the book that distracts you completely from the situation – sometimes we simply need to distract our minds with other things to break the ruminating loop in our heads.
Use essential oils, the travel size rollerball ones are perfect or an aromatherapy based calming mist.
Sit and take at least 5 minutes to tune in to your breathing, soften your belly & face.
Try counting up to 4/5 on the inhale & a longer 6/8 on the exhale.
In my classes, I often use the analogy of, inflating a balloon slowly & deflating slowly. Find a pace & rhythm that feels right for YOU.
Finally, one last tool I use is to step back and try and be as compassionate as I can. We know very little about people’s history & home-life so the more compassionate we are, it makes us far less judgemental, maybe sometimes it not even about you.
And then...allow that compassion to extend to you. Your feelings are valid. Know that you are allowed to feel pissed off & frustrated, sad & anxious. Talk to your self, the inner self that needs a bit of reassurance & compassion.
After teaching yoga/breathwork for the past 16 years, I know without any doubt that your breath is your strongest & most loyal friend. Stay close to it. Pay attention to it when you notice your triggers & sooth yourself. Use that inner voice & find a phrase that soothes your anxiety. It doesn’t have to be anything spiritual or woo-woo, it can be something simple like; “I’m ok, I’m safe” or “inhale, exhale” – so you attune to your breath.
I hope you have found this helpful – maybe you want to share it with someone you care about? Feel free to share. And let me know what mantra you find helpful.
Take care of you.
https://insighttimer.com/ (for the ease, for a beautiful timer with a chime, for free guided meditations)