Coping with anxiety is hard, but dealing with it at work can be a nightmare. There are a number of fast acting medications that can help in a pinch, but they can be addictive. Since people with mental illness may also suffer addiction to both illegal and prescription drugs, I try to avoid these classes of medication if at all possible.
The long term medication I’m on has done a remarkable job of managing my symptoms, but when times get tough, my anxiety still skyrockets. Luckily, I work with an amazing group of people, and they always find a way to bring me back to earth.
If you feel your anxiety getting the best of you, try one of the following solutions, generously offered by my co-workers.
Do Some Deep Breathing
Deep breathing is a fantastic way to calm down quickly. It increases the supply of oxygen to your brain and stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, encouraging a state of calm. My buddy Taylor found an amazing gif that helps to regulate deep breathing:
When I get overwhelmed, but don’t want to leave my desk, this is the perfect way to ease my nerves.
Walk it Out
One of the easiest ways to de-stress is to get out of chair and get moving. My friend Trevor is a fitness king, and when I’m too tense to work, he drags me outside to go for a brisk walk around the building. Exercise and other physical activity produce endorphins — just five minutes of aerobic exercise can stimulate anti-anxiety effects.
Talk it Out
Chelsy is my partner in crime at work — if there’s trouble, we’re usually behind it. Being two peas in a pod, she’s the first to know when I’m feeling anxious. She encourages me to vent; talk through my problems, how they’re affecting my mood, and ways I might solve them in order to feel better. It always helps.
A recent study found that just being in the presence of your friends can significantly decrease the levels of the stress hormone cortisol. And talking it out with a friend? Even better.
Hug it Out
Research from the University of Vienna found that oxytocin is released in the body when you hug someone you’re close to. Oxytocin, also known as the “trust hormone” is known to lower anxiety and act as a stress-reliever. When my anxiety becomes too much to handle, my buddy Tyler always offers a hug. And you know what? After one of his patented bear hugs, I do feel remarkably better.
He’s also been known to run to the store and buy me chocolate when I’m sad, so he’s just generally good to have around.
Write a Gratitude Journal
According to Psychology Today, expressing gratitude can have a direct effect on depression, and an indirect effect on anxiety. After having a particularly bad depressive/anxious meltdown at work, my boss, Colby, suggested I try keeping a gratitude journal. Everyday, right before bed, I was to write three things that day that I was grateful for. It was essentially a way to refocus my thoughts on the positive aspects of my life, and end my day in a good light.
I took his advice and have been steadily building a book full of all the good things around me. When I’m sad, and I can go through my entries for a reminder of what’s truly important.
When I find myself overwhelmed, or in need of serious stress relief, I reach out to one of my amazing co-workers and I always find relief. I hope the help they’ve given me over the years can be of use to you too. Good luck out there!
This post originally appeared on ALustForLife.com by Liz Greene. It is published here with the author’s permission.