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Doctor reveals 3 ways to beat back-to-work anxiety

How to deal with back-to-work anxiety. Source: Getty

Back-to-work anxiety could be rearing its ugly head for many workers returning to work this week.

But if you’re feeling anxious or stressed about the new year, it’s very normal, said Monash University associate professor Dr Craig Hassed.

“A person might feel like the year ahead is looking like they’ve got to run a marathon, and rather than just taking one step at a time, which is very manageable, the person feels overwhelmed with the thought of taking 42,000 steps,” Hassed told Yahoo Finance. 

But, that doesn’t mean you simply have to endure it. In fact, there are effective ways you can combat it, Hassed said.

“The main problem with anxiety is that the mind tends to get into the future that hasn’t even happened, or goes back over a past that’s already come and gone. We’re often generating a lot of stress that we don’t need to be, and for no good use,” he said.

“So that’s why the importance of remaining present and grounded matters so much in helping to reduce stress in this kind of way.”

Here are three ways to beat back to work anxiety:

1. Mindfulness 

The best way to beat anxiety is to remain present, which is the act of mindfulness, Hassed said.

Practicing regular mindfulness meditation can help you set yourself up for the day if done in the morning, or put space between the end of the working day and your evening if done after work.

“Because, very often, we mentally carry work home, and very often we carry 100 problems into work, having some mindfulness practice to start the day and finish the working day can be a good way to be more present.”

Being present means noticing what you’re doing when you’re doing it, Hassed explained.

“It helps us to [realise] when we wake up in the middle of the night lying in bed, we're just lying in bed,” he explained.

“When you're in the shower and you're just in the shower, when you're having your breakfast, you're just having your breakfast. So keep bringing the mind back to the present moment.”

2. Exercise 

Exercise is an excellent stress reliever as well, Hassed said.

“When you’re doing something aerobic like a run or swim, it’s a great way to clear the mind and a great way to freshen up the body and improve your energy,” he said.

If you’re not into running or aerobic exercises, other forms of exercise like yoga or Tai Chi or pilates can be effective too. 

And nutrition goes hand-in-hand with exercise, as far as mental health goes, Hassed said.

“The poorer our diet, the worse our mental health tends to be, so people really need to maintain a healthy diet if they want to maintain their mental health.”

3. Sleep

Knowing how to switch off at the end of the night is extremely important. 

“One of the things that really does people’s head in is that the demarcation between work and home has been totally blurred,” Hassed said.

“Many people are amplifying the mental load and work stress because they do not switch off.”

To beat this, you can simply just put your phone on ‘do not disturb’ mode until the morning, so you can avoid looking at it during that time. 

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