It’s normal to experience stress or anxiety about your career from time to time. These feelings can be caused by a difficult boss, a toxic work environment, or not knowing what you want to do for a living. Unfortunately, career anxiety can sometimes become too much to handle.
So how do you effectively manage career anxiety? When should you seek out professional help? The following are 10 strategies to effectively cope with your anxiety in your career.
10 Ways To Cope With Career-Related Anxiety
1. Focus on your breath.
Begin by paying attention to your breath. Focusing on your breathing is a simple yet powerful strategy to reduce anxiety. While there are a lot of breathing techniques out there (like box breathing and the 4-5-7 method), try to not overthink it. Instead, experiment until you find one that effectively reduces your anxiety.
2. Move your body.
In addition to paying attention to your breath, consider the role of movement in your life. Whether it’s walking, dancing, tai chi, or qigong, moving your body can calm your anxiety and improve your mental health. Ask yourself when and how you can incorporate exercise into your workday to improve your mental well-being.
3. Give EFT tapping a try.
Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), also known as tapping, is another strategy I frequently recommend to clients. As someone who personally finds traditional meditation difficult, I appreciate EFT tapping as it combines acupressure with psychology. I often notice positive benefits from as little as five minutes of tapping.
Brad Yates is one of my EFT favorite practitioners, as he has a plethora of free YouTube videos covering a range of topics, including indecision, losing your job, and being unemployed.
4. Reflect on your long-term goals.
After you begin tending to your mental and physical needs, it can be beneficial to zoom out and reflect on your long-term career goals. Think about what you want to achieve, both in your career and in your life. Then, begin breaking these down into smaller goals that you can achieve in the next 3, 6, or 12 months. Afterward, ask yourself what immediate steps you can take to start working toward these goals.
5. Harness the power of manifestation.
Manifestation is another future-focused strategy that my clients find helpful in relieving their career anxiety. Grab a piece of paper and write a future journal entry that is dated 3 to 12 months from now. Importantly, you want to write this in the present tense, as if you have already achieved what you portray in the entry. (Example: “I no longer have career anxiety… I got here by… I now feel…”)
I have a single rule when clients work with me, that “I don’t know” isn’t an answer. Consequently, if you find yourself stuck when contemplating your future, challenge yourself to write down something, without focusing on finding the “right” answer. Giving yourself space to be creative and dream big can help you loosen up.
6. Address the root cause.
Now, let’s shift to addressing the root cause of your career anxiety. The following are a few powerful coaching questions to guide you in uncovering what may be under the surface.
- When did my career anxiety first begin?
- What/who triggered my career anxiety?
- What’s my career anxiety really about?
These coaching questions are merely a jumping-off point as you begin to determine the root cause. Take some time to unearth your past, sit with your feelings, and see what comes up.
7. Talk with a trusted friend.
Leaning on your support system can be therapeutic when feeling anxious about your career. However, unsolicited advice can cause additional stress. Therefore, before seeking the counsel of friends or family, I encourage clients to inform their confidants whether they are looking for advice or simply a listening ear, as this will help you get what you are really wanting out of the conversation.
8. Find a mentor.
Mentorship can also be a powerful tool in relieving career anxiety. Developing a mentor pool allows you to learn from people who have been in your shoes. Inquire as to how your mentors have learned to approach and cope with stress and anxiety in their own careers. And if you don’t already have mentors, you can use informational interviews to begin identifying possibilities in your industry.
9. Speak with a mental health professional.
Depending on the severity of your career anxiety, you may find it helpful to speak with a mental health professional. I regularly point clients to Psychology Today, as they have an extensive directory of therapists with robust search features. Look for a therapist who specializes in work- and career-related anxiety, as you deserve a professional who is trained in supporting people like you.
10. Invest in a career coach.
Lastly, as a career coach, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention seeking out the support of a quality career practitioner if you are feeling stuck. Importantly, you will want to partner with a coach who has in-depth experience supporting clients in managing and coping with career-related stress and anxiety.
On a final note, know that with the right resources and support, reducing and managing your career anxiety is possible. You are fabulous. You’ve got this!