My heart races, my stomach churns, and I start feeling that nervous tingling all throughout my body. You know what I’m talking about, right? That time that your boss tells you that you made a small typo on your latest report, or the fact that your numbers were off by 1% on your last statement (in an industry where data is fluid so precision, while great, isn’t always expected) sends horrible shock-waves throughout your body. I’m not the only one, am I? Does this make my anxiety a problem?
Is My Anxiety a Problem?
This is a question I ask myself almost every day. Is it normal to have a sense of dread before going to work everyday because you fear something might go wrong? Is it normal to hyperfixate on every small mistake that you made during the day, and stress out about it for the next six hours?
It’s not just work that causes my stress levels to explode- I also dread getting letters from my HOA. It’s always something else that needs to be dealt with, whether the stupid mailbox needs to be painted or the lawn is a quarter inch too high. My HOA is very strict about stupid things, and it sucks being in another state and having to deal with the issues that pop up. I got a letter from them just this week about “yard clippings not being properly disposed of” – like really guys, who cares? But they do, so of course I do.
And god forbid I see a cop on the road! I have never done anything illegal in my life – I barely even speed (ok, that’s a lie, I might speed a little). But seeing a freaking cop behind sends me into whirlwind of anxiety. I’m sure a lot of people feel the same way about this one though – I’m going to call this a cultural problem rather than calling my anxiety about it a problem.
Getting Medical Advice
Before I go any further with this – I want to write a medical disclaimer. I am not a doctor, and I’m not trying to self-diagnose. This post isn’t about the medical treatment of clinical anxiety, it’s about dealing with anxiety in day to day life. Some people may tell me to seek medical treatment, but honestly, I’ve been able to manage on my own so far, and it’s not something that I want to be medicated over.
If my anxiety got to the point where it affected my daily life- like I couldn’t go to work because of it, or I couldn’t leave my house- then I’d definitely seek treatment. I wouldn’t be questioning whether my anxiety is a problem or not if I was at that point. If you have anxiety and it’s affecting your daily life, then I encourage you to seek medical advice.
I wouldn’t describe my anxiety as crippling, and although it makes going to work miserable, I can still manage and go to work. There are also tons of things that I can do that don’t cause anxiety as well. Being home doesn’t stress me out, writing for my blog doesn’t stress me out, and being active on social media doesn’t stress me out. What that tells me is that my anxiety is more related to an unhealthy work culture than to a medical issue.
So…Back to my Anxiety
I know that most people get stressed out at work. They wouldn’t call it work if it wasn’t stupid and stressful. They wouldn’t have to pay people to go if it was fun. I think I go a little overboard with it sometimes though. I mean, who gets stressed out over tiny mistakes that can be easily addressed via e-mail? My boss doesn’t even care about those, hell – I doubt he even notices, but they haunt me.
And don’t even get me started on how awful it is when something goes wrong that does get the bosses attention. I was so affected by a boss yelling at me over something stupid that I wrote a whole blog post about that one incident alone. And it wasn’t even a big deal! He was over it ten minutes later (one of the best bosses I’ve ever had, but definitely the “fly off the handle type”). It took me days to get over it.
My current boss is way more laid back. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him get angry. But that doesn’t stop me from stressing out about every little thing than could possibly go wrong. I’m a ball of anxiety for eight hours a day while I’m at work. Sometimes it even bleeds into my time off because I know I have to go back to work. And yes, I know how unhealthy that is.
Coping with Anxiety
I’ve written about healthy ways to handle stress before, and those all have helped a lot. But those help when the stress is real. They don’t help with the anxiety that comes from making tiny problems into big problems or imagining the thousands of ways I can mess something up. The only thing that really helps me relax is remembering that it is all temporary. This job, the things that I’m doing now – they won’t matter in a few short years. I’m dealing with the anxiety now so I can opt out of it in the future. I’m sure I’ll find something else to stress about when I reach that point, but hopefully those things will at least be real.
Am I Alone in This?
It feels weird to wonder if my anxiety is a problem or not. I know lots of people would tell me to go to a doctor, but we all know how messed up healthcare in this country is. And also, should I really go to a doctor if it isn’t actually impacting my life much? Isn’t it normal to feel a fair amount of anxiety about work or life or whatever? These are questions I ask myself fairly regularly, and I’m curious: is it just me? Or do you ask yourself the same types of questions? I’d love it if you could let me know in the comments!
Melanie Allen is an American journalist and happiness expert. She has bylines on MSN, the AP News Wire, Wealth of Geeks, Media Decision, and numerous media outlets across the nation. She covers a wide range of topics centered around self-actualization and the quest for a fulfilling life.