Written by Emily Lapsley
Having anxiety is a normal part of life and in many circumstances, it can be a good thing. Many people are nervous before flying or starting a new job, but when anxiety is constant and begins to affect your daily life, your focus and motivation can be extremely overwhelming.
Over the last couple of years, due to the global Covid – 19 Pandemic, there has been a huge increase in those working from home. For those with anxiety and perhaps not used to working from home, new thoughts and feelings may arise. Though working from home can be considered a great thing, It can also be rather isolating and really difficult.
Anxiety can show in many different forms, it can make you feel sick, shaky, and sweaty, your heart begins to feel heavier and race, uneasy breathing as well as differing for individuals, some signs of anxiety you may have, others may not. Anxiety can also cause changes in behaviour, but there are many ways to help cope by calming these feelings of anxiety before the thoughts and symptoms arise. And perhaps recognizing your own triggers.
Symptoms and physical signs Of General Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
● Feeling restless, wound-up, or on-edge
● Being easily fatigued
● Having difficulty concentrating
● Being irritable
● Having headaches, muscle aches, stomachaches, or unexplained pains ● Difficulty controlling feelings of worry
● Having sleep problems, such as difficulty falling or staying asleep ● Dizziness
● A noticeably strong, fast or irregular heartbeat
● Muscle aches and tension
● Trembling or shaking
● Dry mouth
● Excessive sweating
● Shortness of breath
● Stomach ache
● Feeling sick
● Pins and needles
● Difficulty falling or staying asleep ( insomnia)
Hopefully, the following tips will help calm your anxiety whilst working from home. But if your anxiety is seriously affecting your daily life or causing you distress, please consider seeking suther support.
Creating the right environment for you!
If you are able to have a dedicated workspace, this is great, but if not find a place you are most comfortable with. You can create your own happy, calming environment (compared to the cold environment in offices) and surround yourself with what you love, with texture, colour, photos, and mood boards of your family, friends, and pets. If you can access a window this is great for regular airflow but if not, perhaps consider an oil diffuser, these are wonderful to fill with your favourite calming oils such as frankincense, patchouli, lavender, and rosemary. If you’re a fidgeter, a stress ball or anxiety ring can be extremely beneficial, many people find these products help them calm, focus and distract themselves and allows the brain to focus. Having a file or box and putting your work away/hiding it can be helpful and symbolic that work is done and it can shift you into home mode.
Proactive with your self-care!
Taking care of yourself mentally, physically, emotionally, socially, and spiritually is an extremely important practise that all of us should be doing in our daily lives. You might think of self-care as applying a face mask, taking a relaxing bath, or going for a walk, but there is so much more depth in how self-care works.
Mentally – How are you feeling? Try journaling your thoughts and feelings, either to start or end your day. You can include how your workday was, what troubles, or if any you faced that day, and your successes no matter how big or small. Journaling is a highly recommended tool to use, it can help reduce anxiety, increase your well-being, it can allow you to understand your feelings and look back on your progression and stay aware of your mental health. realise what it is
that you are anxious about, write it down, break it down, and see if it’s something that you can take control of or are already in control of.
When working from home, unwanted thoughts and feelings of isolation and loneliness can creep in and are heightened when trying to cope with anxiety, making it difficult to leave the house and want to socialise. Meeting a mate or a loved one, taking a walk, grabbing a coffee, or going to your favourite park, it doesn’t have to be a huge activity but interacting, socialising, and being able to detach yourself from work is crucial when you work from home.
Practicing mindfulness and meditation can allow you to be in the present moment, mind, body, and soul. Mindfulness requires work and practice as any therapy would. Practicing for just 15 minutes a day can be so rewarding. Mindfulness helps you to :
● become more self-aware
● feel calmer and less stressed
● feel more able to choose how to respond to your thoughts and feelings ● and cope with difficult or unhelpful thoughts
● be kinder towards yourself
● Notice how thoughts come and go in your mind. You may learn that they don’t have to define who you are, or your experience of the world, and that you can let go of them.
● Notice what your body is telling you. For example, you might feel tension or anxiety in your body, such as a fast heartbeat, tense muscles, or shallow breathing.
● Create space between you and your thoughts. With this space, you can reflect on the situation and react more calmly
● Here’s a video to help you get started with your mindfulness journey – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bLpChrgS0AY
Are you getting In the goodness?
Working from home can be tiring on the brain and body, it can be difficult to manage your anxiety and other feelings if you’re not fueling your body properly. It is vital you are also taking care of your body just as you would if you were working in an office or in a job that’s always on the go. Our body’s main source of energy comes from eating carbohydrate-rich foods, including starchy vegetables such as potatoes, sweet potatoes, grains and legumes as well as opting for whole grains over processed foods. Eating protein and fats helps to fuel and absorb vitamins, regulate hormones and repair the muscles, which, believe it or not, we are still using when working from home! Including foods rich in Iron, Vitamin A, Iodine, Vitamin C and Calcium will help to keep your body moving and functioning well, taking a multivitamin can help ensure you’re getting what your body needs. Hydrate your body, having a water bottle can be useful to keep topping up as soon as you’ve finished.
Are you sleeping enough?
When suffering from anxiety, adrenaline levels are increased, putting your body into a fight or flight mode for no reason. Often, thoughts may arise as soon as your head touches the pillow, where restlessness and overthinking begin to surface or resurface making it extremely difficult to sleep. There are many techniques you can use when trying to fall asleep, here are a few:
● Listen to relaxing music (peaceful meditation music)
● Limit your caffeine intake
● Breathing techniques
● Read a book or listen to an audiobook/ podcast
● Visualisation of things you love
● Aromatherapy, using lavender or chamomile sprays/ rollers
● Try creating a schedule (when you wake up and go to sleep)
● Blue light glasses
Maintain a routine
When working from home it is important to create a routine, just like you perhaps would with any other job. Your routine doesn’t have to be overwhelming, creating a schedule can help you understand when to start and finish your working day. Try setting a consistent rising and falling time, allowing your body to get into a habit of waking and sleeping. Perhaps your routine could consist of what time you eat breakfast and when you would be getting ready for the day. If you have free time before starting work you could opt for a morning walk, which would be similar to your morning commute if you didn’t work from home.
TALK TO SOMEONE
Whether it be with a family member, a friend, or a professional, there are people for you to talk to. Speaking about your anxiety probably creates more anxiety and unwanted feelings, so finding someone you feel comfortable enough around to talk about, can enable you to truly understand yourself and when you feel stuck is very important. Talking it out with a professional can help, they may also offer treatments to help manage but be sure to do your research before this.
It’s Ok not to be Ok
When feeling upset, anxious or under pressure, it’s easy to fall into a spiral of negative thoughts and heightened unwanted emotions but allowing yourself to feel these emotions is also very important. Allow yourself to challenge your negative thoughts and get it all out. Why are you feeling this way? Why are your emotions heightened? What is the proof that my thought is true? Stopping, understanding, and reflecting on these negative thoughts. You will begin to understand and be able to work with your mind, body, and soul, even on those rough days. It’s Ok not to be Ok.
Here are some links that may help you:
- Anxiety UK: 03444 775 774 (helpline), 07537 416 905 (text)
- British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP)
- Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) – nhs.uk/service-search/find-a-psychological-therapies-service
- NHS Service Finder