When your friends post on social media about getting dream jobs, moving out of state, and starting new lives, it’s easy for doubts to creep in when you compare your situation to theirs. Even if you’re sure of your path and career, you may feel anxious when you look at their curated lives and wonder about your ability to measure up.
If moments like this cause you to struggle with anxiety, you’re not alone.
Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S. and affect 40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older, or about 18.1% of the population, every year. And millennials are 30% more likely than older generations to report that they experience anxiety.
Anxiety is a normal body response. It’s meant to protect us and warn us about danger. It keeps us on edge so we can be more alert. But when we experience prolonged anxiety, it becomes detrimental to your rest, your physical health, and your overall outlook on life.
What is Career Anxiety?
Career anxiety is a specific type of anxiety that can be experienced at any stage of your professional life — not just during a job search. Even the
most seasoned and qualified professionals struggle with career-related insecurity. Career anxiety can be triggered in many ways. If you find yourself questioning yourself or your abilities, worrying that you’re not making enough money, or stressing about your general career path, you could be suffering from career anxiety.
How to Cope with Career Anxiety
If you begin to feel career anxiety in your own life, here are some coping strategies to help you through it.
- Be aware – It’s easy to feed into the negative narrative of our lives, but it’s not beneficial to our mental health. Take some time to think about your journey and your accomplishments. List and affirm your personal and professional strengths. Know that you’re on your own path, and honor the progress you’ve made so far. When you are feeling overwhelmed, go to a quiet place, close your eyes, and take some deep breaths.
- Talk to a friend – Friendship can play a key role in helping someone live with or recover from a mental health problem, and overcome the isolation that often comes with it. Talking to a trusted friend or family member can help rebuild your confidence, break the cycle of repetitive negative thoughts, and give you a different perspective. Tell your friend how you’re feeling and how they can best support you. Ask them for practical advice, or tell them you need an empathetic ear. Friends and family are part of your support system and leaning on them can help you feel less stressed and anxious.
- Exercise – Regular exercise improves your self-esteem and relieves anxiety and depression. You don’t need to put yourself through rigorous activities to feel the benefits of exercise. Psychologists suggest that a 10-minute walk may be just as good as a 45-minute workout. If you begin to feel career anxiety sneaking up on you, take a break. Go for a walk, take your yoga mat outside, do some outdoor photography, or play with your pet. Read our blog for more on exercise ideas and how to stay active.
- Self-care – Take time out of your day for “me time”. If you’ve never really thought about intentional “me time,” it can be difficult to know where to start. At its core, it’s just a designated time for you to do whatever you want. It can be as simple as taking a bath, reading a book, exercising, listening to a great playlist, or cooking your favorite meal – anything that helps you relax and unwind. This is also a great time to learn a new hobby or practice – think of it as an investment in your future. There are no rules for how you spend your “me time.”
- Take a break from social media – So
cial media brings us together, but consuming too much can contribute to your anxiety. It’s easy to compare our lives with those of the people we see on social media, and this can feed negative thoughts. While it’s great to be happy for and celebrate others’ accomplishments, we shouldn’t do so to our own detriment. If scrolling through your newsfeed is making you feel more depressed than happy, then it’s probably time to take a break. If you need help, there are various apps that can help you limit your time on social media.
These are a few techniques you can start to practice today. However, if your anxiety is affecting your life on or off the job, you might benefit from more support. The Bougainvilla House teaches essential coping methods to help children, teens, and young adults manage their thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. We offer a variety of programs that fit your needs, such as individual and group therapy sessions as well as intensive outpatient programs.
Treating your anxiety with a professional can reduce or eliminate symptoms over time, and many patients notice improvements after just a few sessions. It’s okay to admit you need help, and to reach out. If you would like to get started, please schedule your free screening here.