Experiencing stress at work is a given; anyone with any job experience can testify to this fact. Out of all the mental illnesses, anxiety affects over 40 million adults in the US alone. So, finding ways to cope with performance anxiety at work is perhaps one of the most critical brain training skills one can master. To do that, we’re tapping into dominant psychological tactics performance athletes use to stay calm while facing high-performance demands.
1. The Power of Visualization
From athletes, dancers, and anyone else in between, the power of visualization is a critical psychological skill to help them cope with stress and anxiety. Imagining performing a motor skill can stimulate the same brain region as if you were performing the skill. When you combine this with goal setting, you can reduce the competitive anxiety at work and in life.
The idea is to set short-term goals for yourself and visualize yourself achieving those goals. When your brain pictures yourself winning, it releases testosterone and reduces cortisol levels. That “winner effect” can help you feel more confident and improve your self-esteem. Once your confidence is higher, you will feel more confident at tackling tasks that were once intimidating, stressful, or that gave you anxiety.
2. Don’t Automate Your Mindset
Our brains are complex and fascinating. We use two types of memory, a working one, and procedural memory. The first one, we use for learning new skills and the second one we use when we’re executing a mastered task.
Research suggests that when our procedural memory takes over, for example, when we execute the same tasks every day at work, performance can suffer, inciting stress and anxiety. To avoid your second memory to deploy at work, try doing something different each time. Something as simple as trying to write with your left hand can activate your working memory to improve your productivity.
3. Fake It Until You Believe It
It seems silly, but “power posing” can be quite powerful for calming anxiety and improving performance. In a study, researchers found that when athletes engage in “power poses,” their testosterone levels increase, dopamine is released, and cortisol levels drop. All of this causes a surge in confidence that overshadows stress and anxiety. This coping mechanism also increases self-confidence and makes you more prone to take risks.
When you combine this technique with the previous ones, you can protect yourself from debilitative anxiety effects. Find your work power pose to conquer fear and boost your confidence level. Something as simple as keeping your chin up and lifting your chest can trigger this coping mechanism.
A Note from GR8NESS
Keep in mind that anxiety is normal; that’s your first step for coping with the symptoms. Make sure you have healthy boundaries when it comes to work-life balance and disconnecting from your office after hours. Find ways to keep a calm mind through meditation, breathing techniques, exercise, and whatever helps you stay balanced.
As always, if you notice that your symptoms are preventing you from functioning at work, consider talking to a professional about it. Seeking help for your mental health is as important as talking to your doctor about your body’s health.