From the day I started working in 2011, I’ve had work anxiety at almost all of my jobs. My anxiety would manifest in stomachaches, headaches, dizziness, hot flashes, and irritability. Experiencing work anxiety every day is distracting, so I’m learning in my current job how to overcome it so that I can enjoy the blessing that God has given me.
Last week, I started a part-time job at a publishing company about ten minutes from where I live. Talk about a God-send! Because Lenny and I are saving for a house, we needed a little extra income. I wanted a job with flexible hours and a short commute. God has truly blessed me with a job that is literally ten minutes from my house, and my shifts are only four hours a day. Although I can mentally comprehend that this is a gift from God, from the beginning, my anxiety has been faithful to distract me. By the grace of God, I’ve been able to acquire techniques to put the anxiety out of my mind and to pursue this dream.
Why do you have anxiety? Work combines interacting with people, being confined to a space for a set amount of time, and often handling money. Anyone with social anxiety, claustrophobia, agoraphobia (fear of being stuck in a situation), or Chrometophobia (fear of money) would choke up at the thought of doing anything work-related. What if I disappoint my boss or my co-workers? What if I have an emergency and they don’t let me leave, or they judge me for being sensitive? What if I have to handle money and I cost the company thousands of dollars? The first step to curing your work anxiety is figuring out what scares you about your job. It might be difficult to pinpoint in the beginning. There may be several aspects of your job that scare you. Take the time to think about why you’re anxious at work, and voice them out loud.
Journal. Along with voicing your fears out loud, journaling can also help you overcome your work anxiety. Not only can you write down your fears, but also your frustrations and shortcomings. If you have an unresolved conflict with a co-worker or a boss, it’s better to keep it to yourself than to spread gossip all around the office. There’s no better outlet for a conflict than your journal. You can process your thoughts and come up with a plan to tackle your fears. Remember, you are in control of your body. Anxiety may seem to have control over you, but it doesn’t.
Pray. When you feel like you’re not in control, pray. Honestly, I thank God for my anxiety because it causes me to rely on Him. I pray on my way to work, while I’m at work, and on my drive home. God is the one who gave you this job, so thank Him for it. Confess that you might not be as excited as you had thought because of your anxiety. Ask for help in controlling your anxiety and enjoying this gift that God has given you. If you have processed why you have anxiety at your job, tell God about it, and surrender your fear to Him. Then, while you’re at work, remember that He is with you. Imagine Him sitting right next to you as you type on your computer, make phone calls, fold clothes, or sit in the break room. At the end of the day, thank God for bringing you through your shift.
Use healthy coping mechanisms. No one is expecting you to put yourself in a severely anxiety-inducing situation. If you have triggers, don’t let them distract you. My anxiety manifests in stomachaches. To cope with that, I chew on a piece of mint-flavored gum or I rub lavender on my wrists. Deep breathing, meditating on Scripture, or talking with co-workers are also healthy coping mechanisms that can take the edge off of your work anxiety.
Our jobs are blessings from God, but when we have anxiety, we don’t always feel like they are. We feel guilty admitting that we have anxiety over the gifts that God has given us. If that is the case for you, let me be the first to admit that you’re not alone. I’ve struggled with work anxiety for seven years, and I still struggle for multiple reasons. However, I have faith that God is helping me through it, and I believe God can help you too if you let Him.