Anxiety In the Workplace Part 3: Pop-up Triggers

Good afternoon! I am shakin’ things up today by posting way early and writing on a topic I hadn’t thought of till now. One thing I look forward to on a weekly basis is reading the Dear Prudence column on Slate.com. I’ve enjoyed reading advice columns for as long as I remember, and Dear Prudence is my favorite.

Today, a reader wrote in and asked advice about what to do about a situation at work (I linked his letter above. Click the link and scroll down the page till you see a video). He was recently hired by a place he enjoys, but just discovered there is a bit of travel involved in the job. This was apparently not mentioned during the job interview or his subsequent acceptance of the job. Here is the issue: he has a profound phobia of travel. Flying, driving…ect…, and wanted to know how to address this with his boss. Prudie’s advice was to tell his boss of his phobia, ask for a medical accommodation and say he’d be more than willing to stay behind and keep the office running. 

This letter brought up an issue I believe is not talked about as much as it should be. What do you do if you are in a job interview, but there is some aspect of the job that gives you anxiety?  Obviously, if you have a fear of heights, applying to be a window washer would probably be a bad career choice, but what if on the outside, the job appears ‘safe’?

The last job I had working with kids, on the outside seemed pretty safe, a place I could avoid my biggest anxiety triggers. Until the day the head teacher decided to teach a lesson using balloons that were to be popped.  So, what was I supposed to do? I am forever grateful to the kid that was having confidence issues that day, and was embarrassed that a younger child was able to blow up more balloons than him. He ran out of the room in tears and I followed to ‘talk him down’-translation: Lets really talk this one out because I secretly have no desire to go back into that room. I’ll even give you a long-winded pep talk to increase the chance to not go back in there. Effective? Yes. Shameless? Absolutely. But hey, I didn’t have to go back in there till after the balloons had popped AND the kid had his confidence boosted. That’s a win-win in my book.

So, how do you handle pop up anxiety? I think it’s best to be honest.  In the case of the letter writer, it’s perfectly reasonable to ask to stay behind.  An understanding boss would have no qualms about honoring that request. 

Well kids, that’s all for today. Tomorrow’s LAFF features one adventure in my brief career stint as a journalist.
Remember you are not alone. I’ll see you tomorrow.

Cheers! 🙂

Advertisements

Anxiety in the Workplace Part 3: When Your Job Becomes a Game of SORRY!

Author’s note: The following post was written by the author during a time of great strife in the life of the author’s youngest cat (translation: I was gone for 3 hours and she thought I was never coming back!), causing said cat to take refuge atop author’s lap. Please ignore any spelling errors as it’s become difficult to type. We now return you to our regularly scheduled blog! 😀

Yesterday’s entry ended on a high note; I had a job I loved, working for awesome people and my confidence had reached an all time high.  Then suddenly, without much fanfare, my job became a literal game of SORRY!, wherein I was toppled from my square and forced to start at the beginning. New management brought a completely different dynamic to our working environment. Things done and praised one day, were inexplicably criticized the next. Staff shifted around in a constant stream of new faces.

Here is where my anxiety was heightened. Couple things about me: 1. I hate change. Yes, I know I’m an adult and change is one of the constants in life; I’m still not a fan–but I am getting better at being OK with it. And, 2. My primary love language is Words of Affirmation.

(Sidenote: Back in college I read a book titled, “The Five Love Languages” for a Communication class. The author’s main premise is that we all have primary ways that we give and want to receive love. There are 5: Words of affirmation, Physical touch, Quality time, Gifts and Acts of service. When you don’t receive your PLL you can begin to feel empty inside. I highly recommend the book and can do another post on this if you’d like)

Now, integrating the Five Love Languages into your job is a bit of a sticky issue. You don’t normally think of love when you are in a professional environment. But I really do thrive on positive feedback. Unfortunately, that’s not something that ever comes up during your job interview, so no one would easily know.

Through this entire period I kept asking God what I should do. The answer I kept hearing? “Keep going.” It’s a delicate dance when you love what you do, but the environment where you are doing your dream job leaves much to be desired. Finally one day in May, I heard from God. This time my answer was, “It’s time”. So I nervously put in my two weeks notice and almost instantly it felt as though a load had been lifted. Two weeks later I walked away and felt better than I had in months!

Being gone from that job has allowed me to be a more authentic me. I’m able to concentrate on things that interest me and enrich who I am. I’ve been able to start a blog, chronicling my life in hopes of helping others. I finally conquered that game of SORRY! and came out on top.

Remember, you are not alone!

Cheers!

Anxiety in the Workplace Part 2: Oh Confidence, Where Art Thou??

Confession time: I’m struggling to put words on paper today to describe my experience with anxiety in the workplace. My last experience was something that shook my confidence, and I dreaded going to work everyday.  Just thinking about it has my stomach in the same knots as I had during this time last year. I’ve worked hard to get past my experience, but I feel like it’s too important a topic to not write on it. The goal of my blog has always been to help others who have experienced similar struggles and to give them hope from the other side. So, let’s take a deep breath in….and proceed.

For as long as I can remember I have had anxiety over doing things right. I HATE making mistakes. To the point of sometimes avoiding doing things. I remember in Jr. high I took a shop class. We made these wooden pen stand things with the option of burning a message with a hot tool into the wood. I wanted to make something for my dad, but was scared I’d mess up and burn myself, so I had someone else in the class write the message I had written out on a piece of paper. They misread the message and changed one of the letters. I gave it to my dad anyway and to this day it sits on his desk in his office. In my defense–besides being a kid scared of fire–I DID sand the wood out to the shape it became. So that’s something.

This whole being afraid of making mistakes thing has also affected my job performance at times. Although I’ve grown out of having people do tasks for me; thankfully, I can still be a bit timid and indecisive when it comes to making decisions and completing tasks. I started my last job at the end of 2011 and fell in love with it. As the years progressed, I was proud of myself for taking the reins and slowly becoming more confident in my ability to do the tasks that were assigned to me over time.  I was also fortunate to work for people who were patient and encouraging, and recognized the good work I did. Of course my performance was not perfect all the time, but for the most part it was on point.

Wouldn’t it be great if this was the end of the story? Ah, I had a job I loved, working with awesome people. Of course life is not that simple. We’ll pick up here tomorrow.

Always remember you are not alone.

Cheers!

Anxiety in the Workplace Part 1: God’s Rainbows are Everywhere

Today I’d like to start a series focusing on anxiety in the workplace, by sharing an experience that I had about a year ago. This specific story is what transpired right before I left my job, so we are working backwards. In the next few days I want to focus on–without going into specifics–what went into our decision to pray about my job situation and ultimately leave it behind. 

Genesis 9:13 “I have placed My rainbow in the clouds. It is the sign of my covenant with you and with all the earth” NLT

After my engagement to my now husband, I moved to be closer to him before we married. I had no job at the time but found one I adored working with children. During this time, I secretly made a commitment to stay in my job for the next several years (or until the Lord pulled me out). Well, the beginning of May 2014, we both felt the Lord pulling me out and I sent in my two weeks notice. Seriously, one of the scariest things I’ve done.

Well, as often happens when you walk with Jesus, the devil comes in and begins to plant doubts in your head. This is definitely true if you live with daily anxiety.  So, a week before my last day, I was at work and feeling kinda blah. Thinking, “Crap, I think we made a mistake. What am I doing, this is my JOB!!??”

So I finished the day and walked down the hallway to the front of the school. This particular school had large windows by the front door. As I approached the front door to leave, I felt my heart skip a beat, looking what was in front of me. There, outside in the sky, was the BIGGEST RAINBOW I had seen in a LONG time!! Immediately I started laughing and thought, “Ha! Ok, God. You got me. I don’t know what You are gonna do, brainbowut I know You are gonna do great things in this situation that right now seems pretty scary. “

I can’t tell you that these last few months have been the easiest on our family, but I can tell you time and time again that God has provided for us in ways we hadn’t imagined. I have some new job skills that have come in handy for my new child care role and honestly, I rejoice at what I’ve gone through to get me to where I am today.

I don’t know what you all are facing in your life at the moment, but I know that Jesus loves you SO much and always keeps His promises to us, His precious children. Things may seem incredibly hopeless at the moment, but do not lose heart. In those moments, look for God’s rainbows….they are always there. In the sky, in your spouse’s laugh, in your children’s smiles, in your friend’s embrace. Always.

Remember you are not alone. I’ll see you tomorrow. 

Cheers! 🙂