How to Ward off Anxiety at Work

….6 positive calming skills to incorporate into your daily life.

“ I need a smoke” joked Jessica, who used to smoke cigarettes and fortunately was able to kick the habit a few years ago. “The deadline for these reports is too short, there’s no way I will be able to finish on time!”

Jessica worked as an Executive Assistant, and was normally used to the tight timelines, and high expectations from her supervisors. Lately the stress Jessica was feeling seemed to be too much. The strain of work was giving her knots in her stomach during her morning commute while she thought about her workload for the day.

Although Jessica was only joking about wanting a cigarette, the longing to self-medicate as a coping mechanism is a relatable desire to many who have stressful jobs. The truth is, it’s common and easy to develop unhealthy coping mechanisms to deal with our everyday stress. These coping mechanisms then become unhealthy habits.

Unhealthy coping mechanisms can include:
1. Over-eating
2. Substance abuse
3. Fight or Flight mentality (refers to a physiological reaction to either fight or leave a situation. This happens in the occurrence of something that is frightening, either mentally or physically)
4. Lack of or poor communication
5. Over sleeping
6. Defensive/passive-aggressive behavior
7. Negative body language

“I would hate to see you start smoking again, Jessica” Marie said with a comforting tone. “I’ve learned a few positive calming skills from a Resilience Trainer… I would love to share them with you.”

Marie was a new employee, who had recently attended the latest new-hire training program their company set in place. The training program was put on by a facilitator from the Resilient Mind Project – a science-based company that helps educate people on the difference between healthy and unhealthy stress and how to practice mental fitness.

In the program Marie learned several skills that helped her change her perception of stress and determine what stressors were healthy and those that are unhealthy. Understanding the difference and learning how she typically dealt with these in the past was insightful. Especially since she started using new ways to deal with stress and noticed how quickly she could calm herself down to a state of feeling better. Marie went on to say, “Why don’t we go over some positive calming skills, they work a lot better than a smoke!”

The first step to developing calming skills is to have awareness of what causes us to feel like we are getting escalated, or in other words, frustrated, angry or irritable. Once we are aware of what triggers these emotions we can chose and implement a variety of calming techniques to quickly de-escalate our emotions.

Positive calming techniques can include:
1. Time-outs – Feel free to remove yourself from the stressful situation by taking a walk outside, going to the washroom, getting a glass of water. Any of these remove you from the situation and will help you clear your head as you allow yourself to take some deep breathes. It’s so simple, yet incredibly powerful.

2. Friendly check-in’s – Call or text a close friend. Let them know what’s going on. The very act of communicating your thoughts and emotions helps you to de-escalate. Plus, a good friend will help you gain a different perspective or reframe the situation for you.

3. Self check-in’s – Ask yourself what exactly is bothering you. Often the core of the issue needs to be explored more.

4. Get some Cardio – increase your heart rate to release endorphins. Endorphins are a chemical/hormone in the brain that is responsible for helping relieve stress and reduce anxiety.

5. Deep Breathing – Learn how to practice deep belly breathing. It is the easiest way to lower your stress and it also helps ward off adrenal fatigue. For additional deep breathing techniques, click here.

6. Crying Session– That’s right. A good old-fashioned cry. Go ahead and let it all out. You’ll feel like a weight has been lifted off your shoulders.

Using calming skills instead of unhealthy coping mechanisms is integral for reducing workplace stress and avoiding your feeling of being burn-out. Everyone has stress at work, it is important to recognize the different types of stress we experience. In fact, it’s best to relabel your stress as challenges or pressures, because stress is a chronic condition. Stress comes as a feeling of helplessness, complete overwhelm and lack of mental control.

“I already feel better after this friendly check-in, thank you Marie.” Responded Jessica, who now realizes she has a friend at work.

‘I’m here any time you need to talk,” Marie was excited to share her new-found knowledge and by doing so, she knew it helped her as well. Oddly enough, she felt her own pressures melt away.

For a printout version of these tips and tricks at your fingertips, Click Here to download our Calming Skills guide, a foundational trait of building your resilience.

And for more information on how you can enhance your resilience skills, visit  to learn more about our 10-week virtual program. Want to hear someone’s voice, call Lise Hill, our friendly mental well-being expert at 514-515-8090. You can also email her at