Have you ever felt a sense of gloom before you start your work day? It’s likely happened to everyone at some point or another. Whether it hits you after your alarm sounds or right before you sit down to start your first task, pre-work anxiety is a common issue.
So how do you deal with it? Below are a few best practices you can implement to help reduce your anxiety before work. Employing the following strategies can help you approach your work day with a clearer mind and less stress, making you more successful and, in turn, much happier with your work.
Get an early start to your day
One of the greatest sources of work anxiety can be your email inbox. This communication tool has the power to take over your day if you let it. You log on to start your day and see it packed to the brim with messages. When you spend too much time responding to and dealing with emails from the previous day and evening, you then set yourself back to start your day.
So why not log on a few minutes early to address these emails without interruption? Starting your work day early gives you a leg up on your colleagues and clients. Let’s say your core hours are from the stereotypical hours of 9-5 and you have 5 unread messages in your inbox. If you log on at 9:00 on the dot, you may receive notifications from your coworkers asking for your assistance with something. This will distract you as you attempt to catch up on old emails and could potentially send your day into a tailspin.
But imagine signing on one hour earlier at 8:00, when no one else from your team is working. This gives you time to catch up on outstanding emails and address each one before everyone has started their day. If you don’t have any emails, you can dedicate the time to a work project, free of interruption.
This doesn’t mean you necessarily have to work extra hours. It may mean you can sign off an hour earlier. But working for that one hour of time when no one else is will allow you to manage your time more effectively without falling prey to the whims of people trying to get a hold of you.
If you feel a great deal of anxiety prior to the work day starting, some simple breathing exercises at your desk may help. According to the University of Michigan, breathing exercises can help relieve both stress and tension. They’re also easy to learn. One example of a breathing exercise is known as “belly breathing.” For this exercise, you simply:
- Sit or lie down.
- Put a hand on your stomach below your rib cage, with your other resting on your chest.
- Take a deep breath through your nose allowing your stomach to push your hand out, while your chest remains still.
- Exhale through pursed lips (this should look and sound like whistling). Your hand on your stomach should move inward, and use that hand to push the air outward.
- Repeat anywhere from 3-10 times, slowly taking each breath.
Once you complete the exercise, you should feel a bit more relaxed and clear-headed. If this particular exercise doesn’t work for you, there are plenty of breathing exercises available online for you to try.
Exercising before work can also help you combat the anxiety you feel. The Mayo Clinic reports that exercise has the following health benefits:
- It produces endorphins
- It cuts down on negative emotions associated with stress or depression
- It takes your mind off of your problems, even if only momentarily
- It can help you regulate your mood
If you’re looking to relieve stress, what you do during a work out is less important than when you do it. Scheduling a brief but intense workout session before you start your work day can help focus your mind on another task. It takes the focus off of work and leaves you feeling energized and mentally prepared to tackle the issues of your work day.
Whether you engage in strength training or cardio before work, you can ramp down your anxiety before work with any kind of activity that gets your heart pumping. Just make sure to give yourself plenty of time to get ready for work afterward!
Another anxiety reducer is meditation. According to WebMD, meditation can help you decrease anxiety, control your stress levels, level up your cardiovascular health, and generally relax better with as little as ten minutes a day of concentrated effort.
There are different kinds of meditation you can experiment with, but the simplest type involves sitting in one place for 10-20 minutes and repeating one word over and over. You can focus on relaxing each of your muscles, starting with your feet moving all the way up to your head. Sit instead of lying down so you don’t run the risk of falling asleep.
Taking a 10-minute meditation break before you begin work can really work wonders. It helps you put yourself first, prioritizing your mental health over your work issues. All of your tasks, projects, and emails are hardly as important as your mental health.
Understand the root cause of your anxiety
If you’re experiencing anxiety before every day of work, consider that there may be a larger, underlying problem you may need to address. Everyone experiences work-induced anxiety from time to time. Your schedule may grow busy during a certain time of year. That said, if you have a recurring issue, you may want to confront that problem with your job that’s causing you so much stress.
Do you have a supervisor with unrealistic expectations? Are you in a job you hate? Do your coworkers rely on you to do too much? Attempt to figure out what’s bothering you and change it. If your manager is working you too hard, talk it over with them. If you are intensely unhappy with your job, consider searching for a new career or role. Anxiety before work won’t go away if the cause isn’t dealt with.