6 Tips for Managing Work Anxiety

I’ve had a lot of clients ask me to explain exactly what anxiety is, and I’ve always been able to give a basic text-book definition: an intense worry or fear about something. I’ve explained that some people have intense fear or worry about specific things like; taking tests, public speaking, or flying on airplanes . Some people feel intense fear or worry about their lives in general. Some people experience anxiety as a result of a traumatic event. For some, anxiety is annoying, but manageable. For others, anxiety makes it hard to function on the day to day.  Anxiety does not look the same for everyone, and it can range from mild to severe. 

While I’ve had the ability to put myself in my client’s shoes and think about what anxiety could be like for them, experiencing it while at work has allowed for a whole new level empathy. I mean sure, I’ve been worried about a school test and driving in downtown Dallas makes my heart race but until recently I had never wondered, “Damn, do I need medication for this?”. 

With COVID-19 and the whole lockdown, people were not coming in to have mental health evaluations. There would be some days where I did one evaluation, and some days that I did zero. I knew that with the pandemic; depression, anxiety, and substance use would likely be on the rise, but I guess I wasn’t prepared for just how busy I would get and fast. As the stay-at-home orders were lifting and establishments were starting to open up, there was an immediate increase in the amount of people needing evaluations. I started to see more people in the lobby (socially distanced of course). People were coming in groups of two’s or three’s to be evaluated. There would be multiple appointments and multiple walk-ins. I started to notice that I was becoming stressed and overwhelmed more easily. Before even getting to work, I would be worried about how I was going to manage. Getting to work and seeing double-booked and back-to-back appointments filled me with dread. The very sight of three or four people in the lobby waiting to be evaluated instantly overwhelmed me. 

About a month ago, I started to experience the physical symptoms often associated with anxiety. When I was overwhelmed, I felt I couldn’t breathe properly. It was difficult to breathe all the way in and it was uncomfortable. At the same time, I would feel this pressure in my chest (I hate that feeling so much). These sensations often wouldn’t go away until the lobby was empty, or I was finally able to take my break. Then one day, I did something that I had never done before. I left for my break with people still in the lobby waiting to be evaluated. 

I don’t like for people to have to wait to be seen so I usually just put off my break until I can find an opening. I couldn’t do that on that day. I felt slightly panicked and I kept thinking to myself “I have to get out of here”, and so I did. Luckily, I didn’t experience a full-on panic attack, but I was damn sure close. 

After that experience, I decided that I needed a plan for how I was going to manage this anxiety so that I could function at work to the best of my ability. I needed to manage this not only for myself, but for my clients as well. I still feel stressed, overwhelmed, worried at times. I still get that pressure in my chest, but I’m managing very well thanks to these tips…

Tip #1: Start your morning with positive self-talk, and affirmations

Think of this as giving yourself a pep-talk before work so that you can go in prepared and confident. Affirm yourself with statements like; “I will not stress over things I can’t control”, “I will do my best and my best is enough”, “I am strong and capable”, “I can adapt to anything”.

Tip #2: Use aroma therapy 

Essential oils such as lavender, chamomile, peppermint, and wild orange can aid in relieving stress and anxiety. Use a topical oil or a lotion that has the oil in it. If you can have a diffuser in your work space or office, that’s a great option as well.

Tip #3: Practice deep breathing 

Deep breathing helps to slow down your heart rate and blood pressure which are usually elevated when you’re anxious. Inhale through your nose for 4 seconds, hold it for 4 seconds, and then exhale out of your nose for 6 seconds. Repeat as many times as you need to. 

Tip #4:  Ask for help when you need it

Workplace anxiety can often come from a heavy work load and never-ending deadlines. If there’s something that you can get assistance or support with, ask! Asking for help does not make you incompetent or unqualified, it makes you smart.

Tip #5: Take a break when you need it 

Taking breaks is good for your overall health and well-being. Make sure to step away from your work space and do things like; take a walk outside, eat, drink water, listen to music, watch a funny video. 

Tip #6: Be kind to yourself 

Dealing with anxiety symptoms in the workplace can be frustrating but try not to beat yourself up about it. Becoming stressed or anxious at work does not make you weak! You can learn to manage it, whether that’s on your own and/or with the help of licensed professionals.   

Anxiety in the workplace can come from things such as a toxic environment, issues with co-workers, heavy workload, etc. We spend a lot of our time at work and it’s in our best interest to manage anxiety as best we can. Do you experience workplace anxiety? If so, what is your experience like? How do you manage? I’d love to hear from you! 

6 Tips for Letting Go of Toxic Traits

6 Tips for Letting Go of Toxic Traits

Be honest with yourself about what your toxic traits are.

Having an awareness and being honest about when you’re being toxic is an important first step for change. The more aware you are, the better your chances of making active change. Let’s say for example that one of your toxic traits is gossiping about others, and maybe you have done it for so long that you don’t even realize when you’re doing it. If you find yourself gossiping about someone and you’re able to say in that moment “I’m being toxic right now”, you immediately give yourself the opportunity to stop. 

Examine and challenge your negative core beliefs.

Core beliefs are the central ideas that we have about ourselves and the world around us. Negative core beliefs have a huge influence on what we do, how we feel, and what we think. One example of a negative core belief is “I can’t trust others”. If this is a belief that you have deep-down, then you may push people away or assume the worst in people. You could challenge this belief by; thinking of times that someone in your life proved to be trustworthy, thinking about how this belief has negatively affected your relationships, and thinking about what relationships could be like if you chose to adopt a healthier belief. 

Write affirmations that reflect the healthy traits you aspire to have. 

I am a huge believer in writing out affirmations as a means of manifesting. If one of your toxic traits is being passive aggressive, then write “I am an assertive communicator” or “I am comfortable with speaking up”. Don’t forget to post your affirmations somewhere you can see them daily. 

Consider talking to a therapist or life coach. 

A therapist or life coach is someone that can provide support, encouragement, and guidance on your journey to healthy change. Making change all on your own could possibly be overwhelming, so it’s nice to have someone outside of your friends and family to get assistance from.

Surround yourself with people who are also working toward healthy change.  

We all have the capacity and ability to be toxic, so by no means am I saying to cut off everyone in your life who has a toxic trait. I am saying that surrounding yourself with people who are working toward change, or people who have the traits that you aspire to have can be helpful and motivating. 

Be patient with yourself.

Making changes within yourself is no easy task. It takes time to unlearn toxic traits and then adopt healthier ones. Be patient and kind with yourself as you go through the process of change. 

My First Tip for Changing Your Toxic Behaviors

My First Tip for Changing Your Toxic Behaviors

Maybe you ghost people

Maybe you don’t communicate properly

Maybe you have to always be in control of everyone and everything

Maybe you constantly need reassurance from others

Maybe you hop, skip, and jump to conclusions

Maybe you constantly compare yourself to others

Maybe you constantly doubt yourself

Maybe you let people take advantage of you

We all have things that we want to fix about ourselves. Toxic traits that we want to put behind us. Self-defeating behaviors that we want to quit. Unhealthy thought patterns that we want to let go of. I’m all for self-improvement, but maybe we need to re-think fixing ourselves. After all, the term “fixing” implies that we are broken. Maybe, real healing starts when we take a moment to discover the “why” behind it all.

“Healing is not fixing yourself, it’s discovering yourself”

@theholisticpsyhologist

I’ll use my own example of recent self-discovery…

Unfortunately, I can be a passive person, especially when it comes to expressing my wants or needs to others. I also have a bad habit of assuming that people know what I want or need, instead of communicating like an adult. Obviously being passive has been problematic for me in many different aspects of my life, and I’ve been saying that I need to fix it for a while now.  Until recently I had never really thought about why I have such an issue with expressing my wants and needs. The ugly truth is that sometimes I fear being told no or being rejected. Sometimes I’m just being hella prideful. Sometimes I think that my wants and needs don’t matter. Sometimes I may even sub-consciously believe that I’m underserving of the things that I want and need.

So how do we begin to change our toxic traits, self-defeating behaviors, and unhealthy thinking patterns? While I don’t have a complete answer, I do have a tip..

Examine your core beliefs.

Simply put, core beliefs are the central ideas that we have about ourselves. Some common negative core beliefs people have are:

I am unlovable

I can’t trust others

My needs are unimportant 

People will end up leaving me

I am weak

I can’t do anything right 

I have to be perfect

I’m not good enough

People will leave if I set boundaries 

I am bad

I am worthless

You might resonate with one or even a few of these. You might wonder how on earth someone could ever believe that about themselves. Either way, negative core beliefs are real and they have a huge influence on our thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. Our core beliefs are not something that we are born with, but rather effects of our childhood experiences or even difficult experiences in adulthood. Negative core beliefs affect our relationships with ourselves and others. Negative core beliefs affect our decision-making and reactions to the world around us. They shape who we are. Lucky for us, even the most deeply-rooted core beliefs can be changed, thus changing the way we think, act, and feel.

Stay tuned for my next post where I give even more tips for changing your toxic and self-defeating behaviors. Until then, take time to discover what your core beliefs are and how they have affected you.

BLACK MENTAL HEALTH MATTERS

Throughout this entire week, I’ve been saying “my nerves are bed” which for me means, I’m anxious. I’ve been unable to sit still. I’ve felt very uneasy. I’ve felt like screaming.

I haven’t been able to pin point exactly where all of this anxiety is stemming from. I think it’s just… everything. Everything that I’m dealing with personally. Everything my friends and family are dealing with. Everything that my people, black people, are dealing with. Everything my patients are dealing with. Just everything.

It’s a lot and I know I can’t be the only one feeling this way or some type of way. I’ve compiled a list of various mental health resources that could be helpful. In this list I have chosen to highlight resources that were created/founded by Black people with the intention of assisting Black people.

Want to find a mental health professional? check out these directories…

Black Mental Health Alliance – This mission of the Black Mental Health Alliance is ” to develop, promote and sponsor trusted culturally-relevant educational forums, training’s, and referral services that support the health and well-being of Black people and other vulnerable communities”. After completing a brief questionnaire on the site, someone will follow up with you within 24 hours providing referrals for licensed mental health professionals.

Black Emotional and Mental Health Collective(BEAM) -This non-profit organization is comprised of yoga teachers, artists, therapists, lawyers, religious leaders, teachers, psychologists and activists. Their mission is to “remove the barriers that Black people experience getting access to or staying connected with emotional health care and healing. We do this through education, training, advocacy and the creative arts”. The site offers a directory of black virtual therapists as well as tool kits, worksheets, videos, and articles.

Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation – This non-profit organization was founded by Taraji P. Henson, in honor of her father who suffered with mental health challenges. This mission of the foundation is “to provide support and bring awareness to mental health issues that plague our community”. On the website you are able to search through a directory of mental health providers and programs that serve the African American community.

Therapy for Black Men – Founded by both Vladimire Calixte and Benjamin Calixte, this site offers a safe space for boys and men of color to seek the help of a professional, and become educated on all things mental health.

Want to listen and learn? Check out these podcasts…

Therapy for Black girls – The host of this podcast is Dr. Joy Harden Bradford, a licensed psychologist. She focuses on mental health topics with the intent of making them more accessible to black women.

Minding My Black Business – The host of this podcast is Dr. JaNae Taylor, a therapist, who talks about all things business, self-care, and mental health.

Fireflies Unite With Kea – Created by suicide survivor, T-Kea Blackman, this mission of her podcast is to “bring light into darkness, encourage people of color to seek treatment, end stigma and raise awareness”.

Is reading more of your thing? Check out these books…

Dear Suicide – Written by Devaunier’ Cannon, a licensed clinical social worker. Her book not only provides information about suicide, but allows for the reader to engage in writing activities that encourage reflection and essentially safety planning to aid in suicide  prevention.

Soothe Your Nerves: The Black Woman’s Guide to Understanding and Overcoming Anxiety, Panic, and Fear – Written by Dr. Angela Neal-Barnett, a psychologist. Her book focuses on what can contribute to anxiety, panic, and fear in Black women and offers various healing methods to use in order to combat them.

AN IMPORTANT NUMBER…

If you are in distress or in a crisis, 1-800-273-8255 is the national suicide prevention hotline. Please call this number 24/7 in order to recieve free support.

What are you willing to do?

I really wish I could sit here and say that I enjoy going to the gym…. but I don’t lol. I don’t know when I’ll reach that point of excitement about working out, but until then I guess I’ll continue spending 30 minutes moaning, groaning, and debating about going.. until finally forcing myself to put on gym clothes and getting in the car. There are even times when I have to call my sister so she can motivate me to go because I know if I don’t call , I’ll stay on the couch re-watching The Office. I wish that I liked to work out because that would make things so much easier, but there’s also this sense of pride that I feel when I finish a work-out knowing that I fought against being tired, unmotivated, or just plain lazy. The point of this post is that sometimes the things we want require a lot from us. Hard work, discipline, consistency, and sacrifice are what separates people who reach their goals and accomplish their dreams from the people who don’t. I also think that the people who reach their goals and accomplish their dreams accepted that they would at some point have to be uncomfortable. For the longest time I struggled with not wanting to do something if it made me feel even the slightest bit inconvenienced or uneasy. The issue with that is… we don’t grow when we are comfortable or when things are easy. The challenges we experience in life are what force us to evolve and uncover strengths and gifts we didn’t know we had.

“Growth is uncomfortable because you have never been here before, You’ve never been this version of you”

Kristin Lohr

Whatever it is that you want to achieve; whether it is losing weight, gaining weight, starting a business, obtaining a degree, buying a house….

What are you willing to do to get it? If you had to go through a period of discomfort to get it, would you?

Chapter 25: The Glow-Up

Chapter 25: The Glow-Up

On March 30th, this picture was taken of me. When my boyfriend handed me the phone so that I could look at it my first words were “Wow, I’m beautiful”, and then I immediately started tearing up.  Of course he didn’t understand so I explained that I hadn’t felt beautiful in awhile. Seeing this picture was like having a major epiphany about myself. My epiphany didn’t stop there though.. in this picture I saw so much more. I saw the woman that I had always known myself to be deep inside. I saw a woman that was confident in who she is and what she has to offer the world. 

Confidence is an attribute that I’ve always strongly admired in other people. I’ve always admired it because for some reason It has not always come naturally to me. I distinctly remember in Jr. high and high-school hating myself and how I looked. From the shape of my nose to my frizzy curls to my teeth…I was deeply unsatisfied. In college I distinctly remember not having confidence in my ability to lead or speak up. Throughout my college years I slowly began to develop confidence, but I still wasn’t quite where I wanted to be. Post-graduation, I had gained some weight, struggled in a couple different areas of my life, and slipped back into that Jr. high/high-school mindset. 

So what recently brought me to my great epiphany? I think a major part of it is doing what I’m passionate about… 

Throughout my MSW program, I’ve had the opportunity to work with women in recovery from substance abuse, as well as with children with different mental health diagnoses. I currently work with adults dealing with various mental health diagnoses in a psychiatric unit. Never in a million years did I think I would have the confidence to get up in front of such vulnerable populations and not only educate them but HELP them. I seriously get up in front of people older than me and offer guidance. I can’t explain the feeling I get when a patient or client tells me “You’re going to do great things” or “That was such a great group” or “This really helped me”. Through pursing my passion, I’ve been able to see who I am and what I’m capable of. I’m a bad-ass. 

On my birthday one of my sorority sisters said “You got you a voice!” and that is the truth. I’m no longer afraid to lead or speak-up. Realizing that I’m beautiful in my looks is one thing, but slowly becoming the woman that I’ve always dreamed of being is another. What’s crazy is, I’m only going to get better…

My Plate Is Full and I’m The One Who Fixed It

It’s the second week of the spring semester and I already feel overwhelmed and annoyed. I thought I would have at least made it a month before these feelings showed up. In my defense I have a lot going on. I’m balancing three classes, an internship, two jobs, my blog, going to the gym, and maintaining a social life. 

Today I got home at about 4:00 PM and went straight for an unopened bottle of red wine that I had in the fridge… it’s only Wednesday. 

Alright, I’m done venting and complaining so now here comes the good stuff…

I don’t remember where I saw this quote at but it goes “I can’t complain about having a lot on my plate when the goal was to eat”. I’ve pretty much been reciting that quote over and over again to myself because it’s so incredibly true . My goals include graduating, learning more in the mental health field, advocating for mental health and wellness, inspiring my peers, losing weight, and living my best life. Everything that I’m doing is a step towards each of those goals in some way or another.

When I’m feeling overwhelmed or negative, I try really hard to replace those feelings with an attitude of gratitude. I can’t thank God enough for the opportunities that I have been given to learn and grow, both personally and professionally. I look back on last year when I was working at a job that I HATED and it’s like how could I complain??? LOOK AT WHAT GOD DID. Everything that I’m doing right now, I prayed for at an earlier time. Everything that I’m doing right now is preparing me for greatness. 

When I start to have that attitude of gratitude (and have some wine) I feel a heck of a lot better, and it’s like I’m excited about my goals all over again.

If you can relate to this post in any way I just want to say that; 

You’re amazing. 

You can do anything you put your mind to. 

Be mindful of how you’re doing mentally, physically, and emotionally.

Take care of yourself.

You got this. 

Log Off and Level Up

One thing about social media is that you really only see the best parts of people’s lives. Of course it’s hard to remember that when you feel your life isn’t exactly going the way you would like. Everyone else’s accomplishments can be a reminder of what you have yet to achieve. The things that other people have can be a reminder of what you lack. 

The end of 2018 was a difficult time for me. Nothing major happened to me per say, but I was struggling and dealing with some set-backs. I was overwhelmed. I was unhappy. I was very unmotivated. Due to being unmotivated, I spent a great deal of time scrolling through social media and ultimately ended up making myself feel worse. I was trapped in this cycle of distracting myself with insta and twitter, seeing how great everyone else’s life appeared to be, and then feeling even worse about my life. I was so consumed by what was wrong, what I didn’t have, and what I hadn’t yet achieved. 

After about three weeks of feeling absolutely horrible, I decided to take a break from my various social media sites. I took time to find solutions to my problems, instead of just feeling sorry for myself. I began working out, reading, and singing again. I even got the inspiration to start this blog. I began to feel love for myself again. I was reminded of all the great things I was doing and have done. I decided that I had control over my life. I was not a victim of anything or anyone.

Here are some things that worked for me during that difficult time, try them out should you find yourself going through something similar…

Take a break from social media from time to time 

Even when you aren’t taking a break, balance social media and offline life

Connect with real people in your life in meaningful ways 

Pray and/or meditate 

Engage in hobbies or activities that you enjoy

Take time to focus on and evaluate your life moves/goals

If you think you may need to see a therapist, just try it

Be grateful for who and what you have in your life in this very moment

Remember that you’re exactly where you need to be