We live in a culture where stress seems to be glorified. People have this notion that stress is the byproduct of hard work and success, which makes it a normal part of a flourishing career. But is this true? Is stress—which often leads to anxiety-actually a badge of honor? The data shows something different.
Studies: Stress and Anxiety Hold You Back
The Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) spends a great deal of money and energy to understand how stress and anxiety impact our daily lives. According to some of the most recent data
they've unearthed, 40% of people experience persistent stress and/or excessive anxiety in their daily lives. Of these individuals, 72% of people say their stress and anxiety negatively interferes with their lives at least moderately.
On the job, employees say stress and anxiety most often impact their workplace performance (56%), relationships with coworkers and peers (51%), quality of work (50%), and relationships with superiors (43%). More than three-fourths of employees with moderate stress say it carries over to their personal lives.
The most sobering data from the ADAA research is that 60% of employees with significant stress have never talked to their employer about it. They fear their boss would interpret it as a lack of interest in the job, or that they would be labeled as weak and denied future promotion opportunities.
Four Ways to Tackle Job Stress
Job stress and workplace anxiety are real. Millions of American employees deal with the negative fallout of these mental health issues on a daily basis. And while there is no one-size-fits-all cure, there are some practical steps you can take to reclaim a sense of peace and clarity.
Keep Anxiety in Perspective
The first step is to view anxiety from the right angle. If seen as the enemy, it'll quickly spiral into a funnel of self-deprecating despair.
According to Professor Steven Hayes
, a leader in the field of clinical psychology, viewing feelings of anxiety as the enemy leads one to see their own personal history as the enemy. And if physical sensations are the enemy, then the body becomes the enemy. This leads to fighting anxiety alone—something that can be physically and mentally unhealthy.
Instead of viewing anxiety as an evil cancer, view each situation with compassion and admit that help is needed. By treating the situation with dignity, freedom will be found.
Tell the Employer
Speak up and have a conversation with immediate superiors and coworkers about anxiety. Chances are, they can already feel the stress. By opening up, they're given a chance to help. If nothing else, it affords the opportunity to discuss one's anxiety triggers and where assistance is needed.
Speaking of triggers, it's important to know what they are. They're different for all of us—so spend some time reflecting and paying attention. Then, proactive steps can be taken toward avoiding and/or overcoming these triggers.
For example, severe anxiety is triggered in certain people when work piles up, and deadlines become unmanageable. If falling into this category, avoid procrastination and work ahead whenever possible.
Other people become anxious when they work for long periods of time and are unable to spend time with family. Taking the occasional day off could be helpful in restoring some of this work-life balance.
Learn triggers, and then implement practical solutions to help combat them.
Make Healthy Choices around the Clock
Healthy life choices
will give the mind and body the building blocks it needs to fight off stress and remain focused and productive. Here are some of the most important steps that can be taken:
- Get at least seven or eight hours of uninterrupted sleep each night.
- Cut out highly processed foods, and consume a diet of natural, fresh ingredients.
- Stay hydrated, and limit caffeine intake.
- Get at least 30 minutes of moderate to intense physical exercise.
If these four things are done, you'll be far more prepared to prevent and combat the sort of stress that leads to anxiety.
Kiss Stress and Anxiety Goodbye
Anxiety is pervasive in life, but it shouldn't be normal. Fight back and put systems and practices in place to help rise above the stress and discover freedom in who you are and what you're meant to be doing. Don't wait any longer—now's the time to do something about it.
Anna Johansson is a freelance writer, researcher, and business consultant. A columnist for Entrepreneur.com, Forbes.com, and more, Anna specializes in entrepreneurship, technology, and social media trends. Follow her on Twitter and LinkedIn.