ANXIETY AND PRODUCTIVITY: THE SILENT BATTLE
It’s 1 a.m. and a creeping feeling slowly engulfs your body and mind, you realize you have multiple assignments due, readings to complete and feelings of uneasiness and restlessness dominate your mind and body.
These feelings are hard to describe and put into words, most of the time. And this feeling of anxiety is not just related to pending tasks but it does creep into you several times and sometimes the causes of this feeling can be multiple that at times it’s hard to pinpoint the exact cause. However, if you can relate to this and you are going through this, you are not alone. A study conducted by Lancet Psychiatry revealed that in 2017. 197 million Indians, that is, around 14.3 percent of the total population of India have been suffering from mental health disorders and amongst them, 46 million had depression, and 45 million people battled with anxiety.
People who battle with anxiety tend to overthink, they have recurring worries and fears and there is a bug of a persistent feeling that something bad or something will go wrong. These worries and fears can affect the sleep cycles, lead to eating disorders as well and it can lead to problems of concentration and so on. But having anxiety doesn’t mean that you can’t be productive. You just have to channel these emotions and feelings in such a way that you can succeed in your work and become very productive. Hence, instead of thinking that anxiety is your worst enemy, you can turn it into your ‘frenemy’- yes! You might be thinking that it’s absurd coming from a person who is talking about anxiety nonchalantly but actually, I have been battling anxiety since childhood and over time I feel that maybe I have learned some ways around it, sometimes finding a way around is much more difficult. That’s the reason why I am writing this blog in a casual sense. Because the more we talk about it, the more we open up conservations around mental health, the more successful we become in removing the taboo around mental health.
Anxiety emerges from our bodies’ natural way of responding to stress. So anxiety also gives an adrenaline rush. Coffee and nicotine act as stimulants that cause physical symptoms that are quite the same as the symptoms of anxiety-like an increase in heart rate and constriction of blood vessels, and so on. Coffee and tea are popular beverages for productivity booster for this same reason. If you have a presentation or any work task that you have to complete, project your extra energy and utilize it to improve your performance and productivity. Did you know that many coaches want athletes to a bit anxious right before their game? It’s because a moderate amount of anxiety can boost the performance of an individual by keeping them on their toes all the time.
Psychologists further suggest that we should reframe our anxiety in such a way that instead of viewing it as a negative thing and instead of saying “I am very nervous” we can equate anxiety with excitement and reframe our anxiety by saying “I am so excited”. In this way, we can direct our energy and focus on concentrating on the potential opportunities instead of concentrating on fears and threats. Furthermore, normalize having anxiety, accept it as routine and as something very normal. When you normalize anxiety, the less power it has on you. Start a conversation; talk with your therapist or best friend or journal your experience. Understand your anxiety; the more you get intimate with your anxiety, the more you can navigate around it. This way you can focus on the task that you need to complete rather than the fear that comes with it.
Next, find your ‘sweet spot’ as the psychologist call it- it’s a spot where you feel enough anxiety to stay alert but not enough to make you feel drained and exhausted. In this state, anxiety can transform into your best motivator. For example, if you are worried that you have switched on the iron and that the entire house will catch fire, you might go back to check the switch and lock the doors properly. If you are concerned that you have symptoms of the coronavirus, you might take the swab test. So whatever worry you have, the surrounding anxiety around it compels you to do something about it.
This all might seem like it’s something very easy to write about, and the feelings of fear and anxiety are the exact opposite. The feelings of anxiety can be productive or unproductive. Sometimes, worrying about a particular so much can cause an anxiety attack to occur. Hence, it important to discover your outlet — it can be journaling, doodling, tracking how your anxiety changes throughout situations, maintain a productivity planner- track your productivity, and so on. Finding an outlet is one of the best ways to cope with anxiety and channel anxiety into productivity. Thus, my zuperb readers don’t shy away from talking about anxiety or any mental health issues. Let us acknowledge the importance of mental health and form a safe space for people to open up conversations around it.