I used to be the queen of workplace anxiety. Whenever a boss would ask me to do something, I’d immediately feel anxious. I’d worry about the quality of my work. I’d be so scared of getting yelled at for doing something wrong.
Whenever I went into the office or simply logged onto my phone to check my email in the morning, I’d feel a tightness forming in my stomach. Another weekday, another workday full of anxiety. Every task I had to do felt like a burden. I had to quickly check off things on my to-do list just to get the work out of the way. I’d think about work right before I went to bed and right when I woke up. I could never relax.
This past fall, it got so bad; I was working 80 hours a week, gaining weight, not sleeping, neglecting myself and my loved ones. I was a wreck. I knew I needed to step back and learn how to frame work in a positive light. After all, I did love to work. Writing an article or editing someone’s work gave me a lot of joy. So why was I making it so hard on myself?
After ticking off all the boxes on an “Are you a workaholic?” quiz, I decided to do the opposite of everything on the quiz. “Do you check your email first thing in the morning? Do you work in inappropriate situations? Do you think about work constantly? Are you always on your phone? Do you prioritize work above everything else?”
I decided that in the mornings, I was going to get up, feed my dogs and chickens, and pray before I checked my email. That gave me a good 30-minute buffer zone before I had to deal with my work.
For the most part, I stopped working on my laptop in the car, save for on long road trips where my husband was driving and I was on deadline.
Whenever I caught myself obsessing about work throughout the day, I thought about something else instead.
I put the phone away when I was driving and swapped my phone out for a book to read at the gym or in situations where I had some downtime.
I put myself, my husband, my pets and my loved ones first by always being responsive to my own/their needs, instead of my work responsibilities.
Today, I am a much calmer, focused person. When I work, it really counts. Carving out spaces for myself to do certain work tasks throughout the day has made everything much easier. Ridding of distractions like text messages, emails (which I try to check less than once per hour), social media, and politics has been so healthy for me. Instead of constantly having to be stimulated, I now cherish the quiet times when I can listen to the cars driving by my house or my dog’s snoring.
I urge you to get rid of the distractions, stop obsessing about work, and quit being anxious over the day to day things that really don’t matter in the long run. I encourage you to evaluate what really matters, and then live your life accordingly. I assure you: you will feel much more centered and ready to tackle whatever life throws your way.