Monday is knocking! How to Beat Anxiety at Work Tips from MRU Experts

I’ve been staring at this computer screen for what seems like several hours. It hasn’t been.

I keep getting interrupted. And with each knock at the door, I can feel my blood pressure spike.

How am I supposed to get any work done?

As I sit in my chair staring at the screen, my muscles tense. I begin to reach for my phone; maybe some music will alleviate this overwhelming feeling.

There’s another knock at the door.

The way today is going, I will need some expert help in how to overcome anxiety at work.

As a social worker, I’ve helped dozens find ways to self-soothe. It can be difficult for us to find our own effective ways, however.

We all have a personal blind spot that can obstruct our ability to conceptualize solutions to our emotional wellness.

To help us see through these personal blind spots, our health bloggers will provide their best tips to overcome anxiety at work.

Marion Akatusaasira.

She knows a lot about beating anxiety and has been featured in many great resources. In fact, she has even developed an amazing eWorkbook to help you with just that!

“As a therapist it seems even more important to make sure I’m handling my stress at work, since I am there to support my clients who are working through their own difficulties and anxiety. I try to remember that my own wellness is just as important and one of the biggest tools I have for helping others, so I make sure to take short breaks in between sessions to stretch or make a warm drink. I also take walks during longer breaks to clear my mind, make sure I am involved in regular supervision, and check in with myself regularly to identify what my needs are in that moment.”

Joan Kirabo
This is a biggie for me. I am the type of person who gets stressed out extremely easy. As a woman in recovery, this can lead to bad decisions that I will later regret. At work, it’s not possible to simply grab a journal or go to town on a punching bag. I have had to learn not to take everything personally and be defensive because that’s how I always was. Now in situations that lead to anxiety and stress, I simply take a time out even if it’s for 30 seconds. Take a deep breath or two or three and tell myself that if this is the worse thing that happens today then I will be fine, it’s nothing. I collect my thoughts, refocus, and carry on with my work duties. It has done wonders for my mental health and letting my anxiety get the best of me.”

Doroth Namagembe
I try to step back and recognize where a situation that is causing me stress falls on the spectrum of seriousness. Is it a life-threatening crises or a bump in the road? Most things that get in the way are bumps in the road that respond to self-care. When I’m taking care of myself stressors are easier to manage and move past. Did I sleep enough? Exercise? Eat? I use grounding techniques and mindfulness, may take several deep breaths and distract myself by doing a different task, or even roll my eyes and let out a couple properly placed expletives. And then I make a plan for how to deal with the situation and move on. Life is too short to get knocked off track by a bump.”

Waliggo Keneth
“I struggle terribly with anxiety at work, not helped by the fact I work in an open plan office so it’s hard to shut myself away. I find when I’m stuck at my desk and can’t take a walk to a quieter part of the building, I put my headphones in and listening to calming music or a podcast to drown out all the internal and external chatter and focus my energy on one thing.”

Luswata Shafik

“I work from home, blogging full-time and swear by taking regular breaks to stop myself from getting overwhelmed. During these breaks, I’ll go for a walk, make a hot drink, or simply go for a wander around my house. Getting a workout in as soon as I wake up has also helped my anxiety (and depression) TONS this year. Making time for self-care, such as keeping up with personal hygiene, eating regular meals, and getting the right amount of sleep, is also crucial.”

Namatovu safinah
“Feeling anxious at work is a common, but difficult problem to address. Everyone has different work environments and some tips work better than others. When I have anxiety at work I like to try breathing exercises, as long as it doesn’t interfere with my work (if in customer service, try these when you have some down-time or don’t have to address customers right away). To feel more energized, try breathing in slowly as deep as you can and then release about 2/3 of that breath and repeat. This is known to increase adrenaline (but may not help all forms of anxiety). Another breathing exercise is box-breathing, taught to me by a former therapist. She mentioned soldiers in the army are even taught box-breathing to help them relax and focus in stressful situations! To start, breathe in slowly for a 4 second count, then hold your breath for 4 seconds. Exhale slowly for a 4 second count and then hold your breath again for about 4 seconds. You can picture drawing each side of a box in your mind to help you stay mindful during this activity. If I am unable to complete breathing exercises, I like to make gratitude lists or to-do lists so I feel happier and more accomplished during my work day, relieving some of my anxiety. In need of one more tip if you’ve tried these before? Talk to someone- yes, it’s simple but very effective. Don’t bottle up your emotions and expect them to go away, or better yet, expect everyone to understand why you are anxious. Share how you feel! Hopefully some of these tips apply to your work environment and help you throughout your work day

Betty Kwagala
A simple way to handle stress is to rate your feelings from 1-10. Start by identifying it at 1 and 2 when the stress is minimal. As it increases to a 3 or 4, pay attention. Most people can feel themselves getting upset but tend to ignore it hoping the feelings will go away on their own. The earlier you can identify what’s happening, the more likely you will prevent the stress from escalating into hurtful behavior. Focus on identifying one or two early warning signs like an increased heart rate or muscle tension to signal when you need to practice self-care. Create a self-care plan with a list of soothing activities to help you calm down in the heat of the moment.
Because I work from home, I have a lot of freedom when it comes to handling my stress and anxiety. When I’m stressed, I’ll use some lavender and bergamot essential oils in my oil diffuser, turn on my Himalayan salt lamp, and play meditative music in the background. I also like to have my healing crystals near me, such as amazonite, rose quartz, and amethyst. I know these things are kind of far out there for most people, but they truly help ground and relax me!”

My motto is to try everything! At the same time! Different things work for different people and the more tools you have in your anti-anxiety arsenal, the more likely you are to succeed. Here are a few of my favorite tools for starters: A) Monitor your body for tension and shallow breathing B) Balance work stress with self care C) Establish healthy boundaries D) Do your best to remain objective and avoid catastrophizing whatever is going on E) Visualize yourself as a calm and confident person (I know this one sounds woo-woo, but just try it!
) With that being said, I have to say that what has made the BIGGEST difference for me has been changing jobs. Battling anxiety while performing tasks that you’re not into, with people you don’t click with, and under pressure to give more than is healthy is a giant suck-fest. But facing your fears so that you can pursue your passion and purpose is a battle that’s actually worth fighting!”

Ben Okot
Feeling overwhelmed and anxious at work is difficult to manage. One way that I’ve found to be very helpful is to switch tasks. This allows my energy to be focused into something neutral so my mental fortitude is rebuilt. If I can’t change tasks, I will change my work environment- maybe the client and I will go for a walk during our session or I could complete paperwork sitting in a different work area. These tricks have done wonders for overcoming anxiety at work.

These 10 experts have found various ways to defeat those feelings of overwhelm at work. So what advice have you taken from their tips?

There are some clear similarities, yet each person has tied in something unique that enhances their personal values.

I encourage you to give these tips a try. Don’t be afraid to make it about you.

What is it that you need in that moment?

Inevitably, when we can slow ourselves down and make a meaningful change, we regain those feelings of self-control and overcome feelings of anxiety.

What tips do you have to manage your anxiety at work? Leave a comment for others!


Signs of depression no one want to talk about. By Lukonge Achilees

1. Switching from happy to sad in a random instant. Depression can kick in and just make you not want to do anything or completely turn a 180 on your personality. Fine line between happiness and sadness, fine line indeed.

2. Boredom. Everything feels like the 6th consecutive hour of daytime television. Even the most exciting things or things you love the most feel like a total drag.

3. Being more socially awkward than usual. Because you don’t want to sound like Eyore, you try to fake being normal. Because you don’t want to seem needy, you’re more standoffish than you would usually be. You wind up just being super awkward.

4. Trying to make other people happy to compensate for how shitty you feel. You wouldn’t know that some people suffer daily with depression because they’re always joking and trying to make others happy/laugh. For me it’s a coping mechanism I guess. I can feel listless and discontent with everything, but I’ll still want to make my loved ones smile in an attempt to make them happier than I am.

5. Sleeping too little. Laughing just a bit louder and smiling just a bit wider than normal. Eating habits suddenly changing, either overeating or eating too little or suddenly losing interest or finding fault with foods they used to enjoy because everything just tastes bland.

6. Cancelling plans or saying no to social events when this is usually not the case.

7. Trying to make as little as an impression as possible, trying to always be just a background figure. If attention is given usually feels undeserved. Almost olympic levels of impostor syndrome.

8. Incapability of long-term thinking. Planning ahead, scheduling, is like rocket science for a kindergartener.

9. Irritability. People assume that having depression just means you’re sad all the time. Not true. You’re just as likely to be irrationally angry about something as you are to be sad about it.

10. Total apathy and dissociation, inability to focus on a task. Most of my time depressed was not active, I didn’t cry or get mad, I didn’t do anything. I stared at my computer or the wall and did things only when told.

11. Trouble thinking, concentrating, and remembering.

12. Loss of interest in sex.

13. Everything seeming like a dulled shade of enjoyment. Like wearing sunglasses indoors, watching tv… oh, and to expand on this, and wearing ear plugs… the colors and sounds are all muted.

14. Shoulder pain. Generally, it’s more considered body ache, but for me it’s my shoulders. Wherever you hold stress and tension in your body will get overworked.

15. Procrastinating, because everything feels like a chore.

16. A messy room. People with depression can sometimes lay in bed for days on end, and go weeks without showering. During that time, the junk really adds up, and even if they get back into the normal rhythm, they don’t care enough or feel like they have enough energy to clean up after themselves.

17. Dropping grades and skipping classes. Too many of the “bad” kids in high schools are treated like delinquents when they just have lost the motivation to accomplish anything. Too many are labeled as a burnout, and turn to marijuana to rid themselves of anxiety. Sometimes even harder drugs. I have never met a drug dealer or buyer that was happy with their life or had a good childhood.

18. Inability to get out of bed at all. I’ll wake up, then sleep, then wake up, then sleep and finally I’ll wake up and lay in bed trying to force myself not to sleep again.

19. Cycling through emotions, narcissism, anger, paranoia, health anxiety, fixation, anhedonia, intrusive thoughts, anger, mania, body dysmorphia, insomnia, panic attacks, ocd.
Most mental health is related, so things associated with other disorders like ADHD, personality disorders, psychosis, anxiety, ptsd can all present similar symptoms in depressed patients. Obviously these are all very different diagnosis, but there is more overlap than people assume.

20. This may sound odd and may just be me – but food doesn’t taste right. Some things are ok but a lot of food tastes like cardboard or is just “off”.

21. Resisting help or treatment. There’s a weird, almost paradoxical comfort in being depressed. Often, you’ll rationalize that you deserve to feel miserable. You might actively push away others who try to help, or even lash out at them. And when that person gives up, you feel a sick sort of comfort because your misery is now justified. You’re a piece of shit who deserves to be unhappy. The person who gave up must not truly care about you. These are lies your depression tells you, and you believe it because it feels true.

22. Over-giving. Not sure if this is everyone with depression or just me, but I find myself always over-giving in romantic relationships, and even with my family and friends. I guess it boils down to trying to buy the love and affection from people because I don’t feel good enough, and I subconsciously worry that if I stop giving my all, then they won’t want to be with me. A sad and pathetic example is how I just bought my boyfriend of four months new tiles for the floors of his entire condo, and a trip to Europe this summer…while he couldn’t even be bothered to get me flowers for Valentine’s Day. I know I need to stop, but giving becomes a weird addiction I suppose.

23. Carelessness. You don’t care about what happens anymore to yourself. You can go fuck yourself up and you won’t care because you don’t feel like you are worth protecting/keeping safe anymore.

24. Not keeping up with your hygiene. Whether it’s not showering, brushing your teeth, or even combing your hair.
25. Taking one seemingly normal every day task and have it turn into a gigantic insurmountable ordeal. Like taking a shower. Doing laundry. Calling someone.

26. Being paranoid that all my loved ones hate me, feeling like I’m a burden on their lives because I talk to them about my issues. I know they love me, I know they would drop everything for me because they do. But I still find myself distancing myself when I get bad enough because I want them to be happy and when I’m depressed I feel like a burden.

27. Letting the dishes or laundry pile up until you have nothing to eat on or nothing to wear; but that doesn’t matter because you can just eat garbage take out and wear the same pajamas everyday and still not be bothered to keep your home clean

28. Co-dependence. You want to be alone, but to get anything done you have to ask people to help you. Only you don’t actually ASK them, you just say what you don’t have or can’t do, and hope they volunteer to help based on what you said, because asking them directly would make you feel guilty.

29. Starving yourself without noticing.

30. Not sleeping well – sleeping too much / too little. Waking up at odd times during the night. That sort of thing.
If you stop dreaming at all (I.e. not even nightmares) my doc said that’s when you really need to see someone.

31. Forgetting everything. Whether it’s appointments in the future, school stuff or what I did yesterday. It’s like vanished.

32. Looking forward to absolutely nothing. As in…there is just about nothing that excites you and you struggle to get out of bed without dreading what lingering thoughts might pop into your head arbitrarily.

33. Isolation.

34. The re-starting or commencing of “bad habits” such as smoking, drinking, eating junk.

35. I quit cleaning. I quit caring about the fact there’s 16 bags of trash around me. I completely zone out of real life and just go through motions.

36. Being angry at people for literally breathing.

37. The lack of interest or disassociation while your hanging out with people.

38. The constant, overwhelming mental fatigue. Not necessarily physical fatigue but the feeling of chains around you, some kind of pressure keeping everything back.

39. Sudden cheerfulness. If that happens out of the blue after a long spell of depression, the person is likely going to commit suicide and is cheerful for the relief it’ll bring. Especially if it’s accompanied by giving stuff away. Be vigilant if your depressed loved one is suddenly super cheerful.

40. Masturbating non stop. Like countless times in a day till you’re dry to the bone.

41. Loss of interest in the things you love to do.

42. It feels like your brain is on “low power mode”, anyone who has depression will know what I’m talking about. It’s as if your brain isn’t living life to its fullest intensity, no matter how bad you try to make it to.

43. Weight loss or weight gain.

44. The fucking cloudiness you have over all of your thoughts.

45. The “Impossible Task.” A seemingly simple chore that is just blocked in my mind from performing. Usually involves phone calls. I will need to call to make an appointment or just return a business call. If I actually could do it, it would take five minutes. But I procrastinate and do anything to avoid it, usually making the issue worse.
For example, I have maybe five dishes and a bunch of silverware in my sink. They’ve been there a ridiculously long time. There is nothing preventing me from doing them; it makes no logical sense to leave them. But I will cover them with a dish cloth so I don’t have to see them and use paper plates instead. I will do yard work (which I hate), clean the toilet, alphabetize my media…all to avoid those fucking dishes.
And the task just looms bigger and bigger and gets harder to do.

46. Finding different ways to cause yourself pain without making visible marks.

47. Social withdrawal. You can’t carry conversations unless provoked. One word sentences become normal. A lot of people think it’s just being in a “bad mood” but it’s really because you want to be left alone to wallow in your own misery.

48. Being the jokester of the friend group. I know I compensated for being sad all the time with cracking jokes and seeming over happy all the time

49. Memory problems. People think depression is just being sad but it’s actually debilitating.

50. Poor gum health and poor gut health.