Since graduating from my undergrad last year, one of the scariest things for me was how I was going to deal with my anxiety working at an actual job. Having to be doing something for 8 hours straight 5 days a week is absolutely terrifying for me. In my field of work, I have to deal with people constantly which can be stressful depending how the day goes. Thankfully, I have only worked part time since graduating and continuing with my Masters Program. However, even at my part time job at ASU, I have to manage both anxiety and depression on a daily basis. I have far from mastered techniques for this but I’m finding options that are working.
I work in event operations so I work with clients as well as oversee college student workers. I absolutely love my job but of course, it comes with stress just as any job working with large groups of people. Being 23, sometimes people don’t see me as a professional staff member and that gives me a lot of anxiety. The amount of times I have heard “Can I speak to someone in charge” makes me cringe. However, it is a part of the job until I age or at least look older. One of the ways that I refocus that stress and anxiety is to work hard at my job. I collect as much information about everything in the building so I am well prepared to discuss anything who has questions for a supervisor. I work very hard to stay ahead of my responsibilities and think ahead in tasks that I don’t have to be told to do. If I prove that I am dedicated and good at my job, people will start taking me more seriously. So that is really the driving motivation to eliminate anxiety about being young in professional environment.
Now, to deal with daily fits of anxiety and depression, I do a few things.
- Know your triggers. Now, my job is ever changing and I can never predict what a day will bring. But I know what triggers my anxiety whether it be people not showing up or being yelled at for something not being right. While I can’t control other people, I can mentally prepare myself for situations that arise. With anxiety, I play so many different scenarios in my head of things that can go wrong. However, lately I have been trying to think of solutions and plans for if things like this go wrong. That way when situations arise, I have already thought about what to do to help alleviate on site anxiety.
- Relaxation techniques. If I am feeling anxious at work, there are a number of things that I do to relax. Music has always been an escape for me so plugging in headphones lets me zone out of the situation and drift into a different world. Often, I get severely anxious if I haven’t eaten. Stopping to grab a bite to eat allows me to step away and again, focus on something else. Sometimes, going outside to walk to food is very helpful. Fresh air and sunshine is always good to brighten the mood.
- Step Away. Sometimes, I can’t just keep anxiety hidden when I am dealing with a situation that is too much. If I feel like I’m at a breaking point, I have to remove myself from a situation and let someone else handle it. It is perfectly valid to take some time to decompress. It is something that I stress with my students when I see they are overwhelmed in situations. Sometimes, it happens and I can’t control it. I know my points and I am lucky enough to be able to step back. I will go somewhere private whether that be my office, bathroom or even outside where I can breathe and refocus. If everything is way too much and I am breaking to a point I don’t believe I can come back from, I may have to go home. This has only happened once or twice but I know when my anxiety is going to affect my work. If I can’t perform at my best, I need time to go and recover so I can the next day. Now, I know most people are not afforded this opportunity but discussing your mental health with your team can help them understand your needs and how to work with you if you begin to panic.
Now, I know that I am still new to the workforce and am still not working full time, but I am actually super grateful for that. Not only does it allow me time to work on my Masters, but it allows me to begin a slow process of adjustment and learning how to function in a workplace with anxiety. As I continue to learn more about coping with mental health in an office, I’ll share more about what works for me and doesn’t. Hopefully, something that I write may have an impact.