Originally written for and published by The Haute Mess in 2016.
Does your boss ever ask you to contact a client and you immediately begin to feel the panic bubbling up in your throat?
Does your heart practically jump out of your chest when your boss singles you out in a conference room meeting? Even if it involves praise?
What about those times you have to walk across the entire office to bring a co-worker the papers they left in the printer tray? Can you practically feel everyone in the office staring at you?
If any of these situations sound familiar to you, you might just be my soul sister (or mister!) because anxiety is something I struggle with every single day at work. And it all stems from my anxiety outside of the workplace.
Taking it back a few steps, I can honestly say that in my daydreams, I always fancied myself Wonder Woman when thinking about the time I’d spend in the real world. My life would be simple. I would handle everything calmly and coolly. I was never run by my anxiety.
Yet when it comes down to it, they were just that – daydreams. Because the reality is that I do have anxiety. Full-blown anxiety. And it had slowly crept into my work life.
So I figured that I needed to sit down with myself and fix my problem before it got out of control and really took over. Because I wasn’t about to let my anxiety ruin my chances of killing it in the workplace.
It began with a slightly odd and highly intense moment of confronting my anxiety. I told it to take a hike. Literally. I was talking to myself in my car. In the office parking lot, no less. It was something I had to do though. Because honestly, the workplace has no time or sympathy for anxiety. And frankly, neither should we.
We’ve all heard it before – faking it to make it. And when it comes to workplace anxiety, I’ve found that the saying is beyond true. Really all we need is five seconds of courage to spark confidence.
Personally, the only way I could take control of those five seconds was if I came to terms with a few things. So from me to you, here are five things to get through those anxious times.
1) Remember that your anxiety can’t be seen. Just because you’re anxious about something doesn’t mean that everyone else knows you are. There’s no way that Tracy from Accounting can know that your heart is about to jump out of your chest when you get asked a question in a staff meeting.
2) Try to rationalize your fear. Since anxiety is not a rational disorder, taking the time to think it out may help make the situation easier for you to overcome. Example? Just because you feel like everyone in the office can hear your conversations doesn’t mean they’re actually listening. They’re probably busy doing their own work – so just go ahead and make the call.
3) Try to visualize your ideal outcome. Then make it happen. And act quickly before your five seconds of courage disappears!
4) Remember that your co-workers aren’t as scary as you think. Except maybe Eugene from HR. Take a deep breath, try to look them in the eye and strike up a conversation with them. Once you get to know them a little bit, they will definitely seem less scary to you. (But again, avoid Eugene.)
5) Remember why you’re there. Keep telling yourself that you are fully confident, capable and worthy enough to be at your job. You were clearly given your position for a reason, so don’t be afraid to speak up, stand out and join the group for lunch in the kitchen.
While some of these are easier said than done, they’re all small steps you can take when kicking your social anxiety to the curb. With the right attitude, any girl boss can tackle her anxiety.