I recently returned a bottle of medication to the pharmacy. “It’s not working,” I said. “I think the active ingredient has expired. I lie awake for three hours each night, but the medication normally knocks me out within five minutes.”
I took home a brand-new bottle of medication, which had a year’s expiry date rather than two months, much to my pharmacist’s dissatisfaction. He thought it was an issue that my doctor could resolve. I knew differently.
But after two more nights of lying awake for three hours, I realized, “It’s me, not the medicine.”
And then I recalled a pattern that happened to me a decade ago, during my work term as an event coordinator within a laboratory. I went through a phase of work where I’d lie awake all night, unable to sleep. And that eventually turned into full-blown workplace anxiety so severe that I couldn’t work full- or part-time for the next decade.
But I have dreams of becoming a Chief Marketing Officer at a firm, and anxiety doesn’t bode well for such a role. Or does it? A loved one who earned over half a million salary a year would get anxiety, which I later read is a common symptom of people who are exceptionally responsible. So, maybe anxiety plays a part in roles with high levels of responsibility.
But I’d rather strive to overcome the anxiety before it strikes, so here’s some strategies I use.
Say loving kindness meditations during the day. When alone, saying out loud, “I love you,” to anyone and everyone who comes to mind is a form of self-soothing. And a soothed spirit is a calm, not stressed, one.
Seek to resolve workplace issues. For instance, if you oversee a team, but are going through some rough patches, then take leadership courses or read books on leadership. I find the best leadership books and courses are made by top sports coaches. Whatever weaknesses you might have at work, actively find ways to resolve them by acquiring the necessary skillset.
Put love into every task. Infusing all your thoughts with love toward activities is a great healer, especially when you feel unwell or unmotivated. Sprinkling in laughter and smiles can make a stressful endeavor more fulfilling.
Normalize the anxiety. Once the anxiety comes in, chances are it may reoccur over your lifespan. You can always learn skills from books or psychologists to turn your state around, and once you have those skills, you can reapply them as needed.
Stay away from all caffeine, even herbal teas. Caffeine increases anxiety responses. Cut out every little bit of caffeine. That means remove all caffeine, even decaffeinated beverages (which have caffeine) from your diet. Some articles I’ve read insist that even some herbal teas have traces of caffeine.
Exercise, but only before 6 pm. Exercise is critical for stress reduction. But try to exercise before 6 pm so it doesn’t prevent you from falling asleep.
Eat foods that alleviate anxiety. Avoid eating chocolate, sugar, and processed food. But do try to eat foods high in omega-3 to keep the stress at bay. Salmon, avocados, and flax seeds are great sources. And if you can, try to eat plenty of raw plant-based foods.
Journal. Journal your daily issues, dreams, and concerns, but take inspiration from sports playbooks. In other words, write down what happened, what went wrong, and how you could do better.
Pay to see a psychologist. I phoned a psychologist for an appointment today. Two hundred bucks for one hour! So, I passed. I’ll learn the self-made woman’s way: books, Google, and past successes.
Bedtime is swiftly approaching. I didn’t nap at all during the day. I studied leadership from a world-renown coach. I phoned a psychologist, and plan to work on my playbook. I’m about to exercise, although a bit late.
I just wish I did more loving kindness meditation. Thoughts filled with love seem to wash the stress away better than anything else I’ve ever tried.