Think about the last time you had an awkward interaction, or made a small mistake at work. What was your reaction?
If you couldn’t stop obsessing about it, Liz Fosslien and Mollie West Duffy, the authors of No Hard Feelings: The Secret Power of Embracing Emotions at Work, suggest you ask yourself the following questions, as highlighted for Glamour:
Take this quick self-assessment. How many of these statements apply to you?
You get anxious if you haven’t checked your work email for 10 minutes.
When your friends ask you how you’ve been, you start detailing a minor work inconvenience.
Later, you dream about said inconvenience.
You obsess about work during dinner, at the gym, and when you’re trying to fall asleep.
Your mood depends almost completely on how work is going.
It’s normal to feel some stress about work and careers, but if you answered affirmitively to most of the statements above, it’s time to take a deep breath and, as the authors write, care less.
OK, easier said than done. There’s not just a switch you can flip to magically become less stressed out. But there are some easy things you can do to put less pressure on yourself.
“‘Be less passionate about work’ doesn’t mean ‘Don’t care about work,’” the authors note. “It means: Care more about yourself. Carve out time for the people you love, for exercise, for guilt-free vacation. Remind yourself that few people look back at their lives and wish they had stayed at the office until 10:00 P.M.”
Here’s how they suggest doing it.
Just answer the email
Set aside a time to go through your emails and actually answer them, rather than reading them and waiting for a time during the day when you’ll be more “focused” to respond. Guess what: The email is just going to gnaw at you, and you’ll worry more and be less productive.
This reminds me of this productivity acronym: OHIO. Only Handle It Once. If you think of a task to do, or get a message you need to respond to, than do it and be done with it.
Block off time for deep work
It’s normal in modern business culture to think that you always need to be plugged in lest someone need you for the most minor thing, but try blocking off a day (or a few hours) where you have no meetings, calls or events scheduled, the authors suggest.
That way, you have time for deep work, without the added stress from bouncing between tasks.
If you’re struggling to get your stuff done, and finding yourself alternately antsy, distracted, and tired, then try out this alternate approach to scheduling.
Signal to your brain that work is over
Fosslien and Duffy suggest setting up an after-work ritual that will tell your brain that work is over and it’s time to chill. “Walk or bike home, meditate on your commute, listen to music, read a magazine, or lift weights, which some studies show boosts your mood more than cardio,” they suggest, or do whatever works for you.
Personally, getting off the subway a few stops early and walking for a while helps me decompress.
These three suggestions won’t solve all of your work anxiety, but they can set you up to enjoy your time away from work. “If you’ve been burning the candle at both ends, consider this your permission slip to head home, put on sweatpants, and enjoy a night off,” the authors write. “Your work will be there tomorrow.”