Mindset and Behaviour That Lead To Professional Anxiety
Having been a registered nurse for over 30 years and a holistic therapist for over 16 years, I’ve come across many people with professional anxiety. I was actually one of those people.
Although each case is unique, I’ve discovered certain mindsets and behaviour that are common among people with this type of anxiety.
What You Think and What You Do
People with professional anxiety are often those who have high standards and ideals about what they want to do, and how they want to present themselves and make an impact in the workplace.
So, they tend to exhibit behaviour patterns, such as:
- Over giving – drawn to helping and caring for others; prioritising other people’s needs over their own.
- Doubtfulness – lacking the self-confidence to put themselves forward for better positions, even though they have put in the work and have the necessary expertise and experience.
- Self-criticism – always thinking that their work is not good enough and focuses on what they could have, would have and should have done.
- Perfectionism – anxious not to let people down, so they pressure themselves to give only the most flawless and best output all the time.
These mindsets and behaviour are often compounded by workplace anxiety. When a company does not promote a culture of support and instead perpetuates stress and unhealthy competition, then the mental wellbeing of workers suffers even more.
Early Signs of Professional Anxiety
Anxiety stemmed from my childhood. This is often the case, because this is when we are forming beliefs about ourselves and how we fit into this world. I don’t know the exact moment it manifested, but I do have a specific memory that shows how it impacted me, even for little things.
It involves a shopping trip with my mother and my sister. I agreed to getting a pair of shoes I hated because I was afraid to speak up.
Meanwhile, my sister got a great pair of shoes because she assertively didn’t settle for anything less.
This tendency to keep things inside stayed with me until I was an adult. It was one of the reasons for my burnout.
Being in a constant state of stress puts a lot of unhealthy pressure on a person’s mind and spirit. It impacts on everything, including interpersonal relations. We become snappy or resentful.
Now that I have studied more about professional anxiety, I can spot the signs earlier. I become aware of my feelings and can make choices to change my state, through my beliefs, my emotions or behaviours.
As a recent example, when I was writing my contribution to The Anxiety Relief Handbook, my mind would race and I would be unable to go back to sleep. I experienced shortness of breath and heart palpitations.
Being aware of the signs helps me take the proper steps to stem out the wave that comes with anxiety and its sibling, overwhelm.
I can be gentle with myself, acknowledge how I am feeling, dig beneath it to find out what’s really under it and see it for what it is. From here, I can take the best action to ease it. For example, when my mind is spinning with so many things I need to do, I list all the things down. Next is to look at the list and prioritise which things are most important. I can then schedule them and return to a state of ease, or calm.
Shake It Off
I love a story I heard many years ago from my BodyTalk training.
Imagine a prey animal like a deer. It is eating grass when a tiger leaps at it. The deer’s fight or flight activates. It races away. If it outruns the tiger, once it’s safe, it shakes its body and resumes eating. The act of shaking releases tension after a life-threatening event.
When humans go through an anxiety attack, our fight or flight mechanism also activates. Our hearts beat fast. Our breathing becomes shallow. Blood goes to the muscles instead of the brain, so we stop thinking logically.
However, since we are almost always under chronic stress, we never get to the point where we shake things off. Instead, we turn around and think things like “Why me?” or “Why did this happen to me?” These negative thoughts continually feed the stress and the anxiety.
So, next time you feel overwhelmed, literally shake it off. It’s a very small thing to do, but it’s very effective.
If you want to learn more tried-and-tested self-coaching techniques, get The Anxiety Relief Handbook.
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