4 Tips to Calm Anxiety at Work

anxiety at work

We all get a bit nervous or anxious at work sometimes. Deadlines, extra work and then more work on top of that can make anyone feel stressed out.

But as anyone who has ever suffered from anxiety or a panic attack can tell you, acute anxiety is a completely different story.

A small percentage of people all over the world have a serious problem with anxiety. They suffer from a medical condition that will require professional assessment and treatment.

But many more of us are affected by milder forms of general anxiety that can feel bad at the time but often pass quickly.

If you have symptoms of anxiety that are severe, like feeling that you might be having a heart attack, you need to seek immediate medical help.

But if you only occasionally have anxiety problems at work, you may be able to manage quite easily on your own. In fact you probably already are. In case you haven’t yet found a way to manage your anxiety at work, here are a few suggestions.

1. Take a Deep Breath

This is one sure-fire strategy that you can use to calm down quickly at work. When we are anxious or stressed we have a tendency to breathe faster. That can actually make us feel dizzy or lightheaded and even add to our anxiety.

Take one deep breath in through the nose, pause, and then breathe out through the mouth. Repeat three times slowly or more until you can feel your heart rate go down.

Another good technique is to close your office door and do some stretching or bending. Just looking away from your computer and staring out the window may help, as long as you remember to breathe.

2. Take Your Anxiety for a Walk

When you feel anxious or stressed to the point where you think your head will blow off, it’s a good time to take a time out.

Use your time to take your anxiety for a walk. It can be around the corner or around the block, but the action of moving your body and changing the scenery for your brain should help.

Exercise works because your muscles hold and retain any nervous energy you build up and exercise releases that energy. It reduces anxiety by taking away that energy, and it also improves hormone balance and releases neurotransmitters that lift your mood.

Exercise works in the moment but regular exercise is also one of the most powerful tools you have to overall better health and less anxiety in your life.

3. Learn to Relax

You can reduce both your situational anxiety at work and the general tension in your life by learning to relax. On your off hours, find healthy ways to slow down your mind and your body.

These can be anything from light exercise like walking to watching sports on television to listening to relaxing music that calms you down before you go to bed at night.

You can even relax at work by taking a reading break with your favorite book at noon or talking a long walk that may or may not end up at the mall. You can take a short relaxation break anytime you feel anxious.

Physically get up from your desk and do some stretching or actually listen to music — something that is just for you. You will be amazed before too long how this improves your mood and allows the anxiety that you’ve built up to dissipate.

4. Take Your Mind off Anxiety

If you can stop thinking about it — anything you’re obsessing over — you can stop worrying about it or being anxious in any situation. To do that you may have to trick your mind a little.

One way to distract your mind away from an anxiety-provoking situation is to try to think about something else. This something else — and it can be anything from how much you love your little dog to your next vacation — will kind of push the anxious thoughts from your head long enough for your body and heart to slow down.

If you can’t think of anything, then you can always go visit a colleague in a nearby cubicle or phone your partner to see what they would like to have for supper.

Distractions allow you to take the focus off of your stressed out brain so that you can recover your balance and get back to work again.

What tips do you have to relieve anxiety at work?

(Photo Credit: Stephen Poff)

Mike Martin is a freelance writer and consultant specializing in workplace wellness and conflict resolution. He is the author of Change the Things You Can (Dealing with Difficult People). For more information about Mike please visit: Change the Things You Can


  1. Sam on the 31st October

    A good post!

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