How to overcome anxiety at work by Anna Botsford
When anxiety at work is an uphill struggle
Anxiety at work can make every day feel like an uphill struggle. We spend a lot of time at work, so the environment, the people we work with and what we do are important, but so are feeling confident, valued and fulfilled. So what happens if the company, the culture or the people you work with, make it difficult for you to get through the day? What happens if you clash with your boss, feeling nothing is ever good enough and every word, look or email starts to bring up feelings of anxiety at work?
(That’s exactly what happened to a recent client of my friend and Brighter Life therapist Anna Botsford and this is her guest post showing how she was able to help.)
Case Study: Sarah, HR Professional
Sarah* is an experienced HR professional and had moved from a role she’d been in for several years to what seemed to be her ideal job. It was close to home, offered great staff benefits and a good salary. But it wasn’t long before she started to feel anxiety at work. She felt she’d made a huge mistake because her boss’s management style brought up a struggle with self-confidence. This was something that she knew was there to a degree but had previously felt was well under control. She knew that suffering high anxiety in this role would damage her self-esteem unless she did something about it as soon as possible.
That’s where I came in. During a full initial consultation, getting to know both Sarah’s personal and professional background, we talked together and came up with a plan of action. Knowing she couldn’t change her boss’s management style, she realised that if she wanted to succeed in the role, it had to be her own actions and reactions that changed. It’s important to say here, that there was nothing unprofessional about her boss’s approach; it was simply different to that which Sarah had experienced previously.
Catastrophising contributes to anxiety at work
Using information from our initial consultation, I devised a personalised 3 session plan. This would allow Sarah to move from the anxious and stuck position, she felt she was in, to a place where she felt confident and equipped to work with her boss’s management style. She could look forward to feeling confident again, personally and professionally.
Session 1 involved working on cognitive change, looking at the unhealthy thinking styles that were contributing to the stress and anxiety at work. In particular, she was “catastrophising” – making up horror stories in her mind, anticipating how meetings would go before she was even in them! She was reading between the lines of emails, rather than focusing on the fact and content of them. We worked on helping her focus on what she actually knew about situations, rather than what she was scared of and this allowed to see the things she was able to control. We ended the session with some Positive Mental Rehearsal (PMR), visualising a day at work thinking, feeling and behaving in the ways she wanted.
The great thing about PMR, is that the unconscious mind doesn’t know the difference between something that’s happened in reality and something that’s been imagined. So, when you visualise a scenario going just the way you want it to, the unconscious mind logs that as what will happen when you’re in that situation for real. A great way to reduce anxiety at work and in your personal life too!
Acupuncture without the needles
Session 2 involved Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) often referred to as “acupuncture without the needles.”
Our initial consultation had brought up a situation at work, from many years ago, where Sarah had experienced bullying in the workplace. It was clear the emotions of that time were still very strong and were exacerbating the current situation. Every time she clashed with her current boss’s style of management, the anxiety and stress she’d felt at work all those years ago came back up.
She hadn’t realised the link, thinking that situation had been ‘put to bed long ago.’ However, when she released those out of date emotions, Sarah was able to separate what happened 18 years ago from what was happening now.
Separating Emotions from Memories
That really is the beauty of EFT; it quickly and efficiently allows emotions and memories to be separated. When the emotions are released, you can feel as if the experience could have happened to someone else, rather than yourself.
With cognitive change having already been made and Sarah able to challenge her unhelpful thoughts, she was now focusing on the things she could control. With the old negative emotions now gone and with the use of EFT, Sarah was already seeing big changes at work. Even her boss’s approach to her had shifted a little, now that she was looking and sounding more confident. Sarah was also using PMR as a daily tool to see herself thinking, feeling and behaving in more healthy ways, so we were ready to move onto our third session. Hopefully, for Sarah, anxiety at work was soon to be a thing of the past.
Hypnotherapy to boost confidence and banish anxiety at work
Session 3 involved using Hypnotherapy to boost Sarah’s confidence and self-esteem at work. With Sarah in a deeply relaxed state, I suggested that she fully believed in her ability at work. Also that she was a confident and capable member of the team and that she could easily deal with any perceived negative comments with both proportion and perspective. Again, we used PMR during hypnosis to reinforce what Sarah was expecting now in terms of her thoughts, feelings and behaviours.
Hypnosis is simply a deeply relaxed state of focused awareness, allowing positive suggestions to be accepted by the powerful unconscious part of our mind. Our unconscious mind not only holds our beliefs and values, it also drives our behaviour and all those things we do automatically. Contrary to popular belief, hypnosis can be achieved by the vast majority of people and in fact all hypnosis is ‘self-hypnosis.’ Your hypnotherapist can’t MAKE you achieve that relaxed state or accept positive suggestions! Of course, I can facilitate it but it’s you that allows it to happen!
Focus on what you want to happen
All the techniques I use allow my clients to focus on the things they want to be doing, rather than the things they were afraid of. As you have seen, by the process I used with Sarah, she was able to change the way she was thinking and in turn, change how she felt and behaved.
Using these types of techniques simply requires an open mind, rapport between you and your therapist and a willingness to commit to suggested work outside of the formal sessions. All change is a process and is approached differently with every client. We are all the product of our experience and therefore, the way I work with clients and the amount of sessions needed will vary from person to person.
To find out more about how you can reduce your anxiety at work please arrange a free initial consultation.
With a background in healthcare, as a nurse and a paramedic, Anna has extensive experience of helping people at pivotal times in their lives. That experience is invaluable working now, working with clients to help them create change in their lives. With a tool kit that includes Hypnotherapy, NLP, EFT and Cognitive Techniques, Anna’s passion is to empower clients to make positive and lasting changes in their lives.
Visit: Brighter Life
Copyright: Anna Botsford, Brighterlife, 2020.
* Client’s name has been changed.
A note from Louise.
“Sometimes, anxiety at work can be so bad that it prevents us being able to move forward with even the best career coaching. I am not a therapist and if you feel there is deep-rooted, emotional work that you need to do, I would recommend that you consider seeking out a great therapist like Anna before you hire your coach.
It took me 4 years to make the ‘overnight’ decision to quit my job. Maybe that would have been a quicker process if I’d been able to find the right kind of help sooner. You can read my story here. I hope it inspires you to take action sooner rather than later!