Our columnist shares her advice on dealing with workplace anxieties
I love my job and I’m incredibly fortunate because I found something I enjoyed early on (I’ve been acting since I was four). This means I have been blessed with opportunities to do it in many different forms ever since. That doesn’t mean it’s without stress though. It can be unstable, which is hugely anxiety-inducing, and I had to learn early on how to manage that ‘tick, tick, tick’ of worry to stop it becoming overwhelming. It’s competitive and the risk of negative comparison to others is significant, especially for young actresses where appearances are everything. It’s lonely at times, and not always exciting or glamorous. A recent study showed that up to 72 percent of actors are at risk of anxiety, depression and stress.
A chat I had recently over dinner with friends who worked in other industries reminded me that this can be the case across the board. I also realised that there are some common denominators that make it easier wherever you work to get on top of the stress and get ahead…
My longest marriage came through my time on Holby City. It was on-set there that I met the gorgeous Luke Roberts, my co-worker, best friend and work wife. For four years we worked side-by-side with never a cross word between us.
His laughter and support made that experience so much more meaningful for me and meant there was always a port if the world was a little stormy. This experience can be shared by us all, as a recent US study found that very close relationships at work are especially beneficial in fast-paced, high-stress environments.
I remember the day I learnt to let myself relax. It was the height of summer and hot. I’d come off a 14-hour day on set and I desperately needed to unwind. I made my way to Regent’s Park (my favourite of all the London parks), which was heaving with city dwellers making the most of a rare patch of blissful sunlight. I still had lines to learn and things to do, but I lay down on a patch of sweetly scented grass and just drifted off in the sun.
It was one of the most restful moments of my life and I felt not a jot of guilt for it. We’re so quick to push ourselves in modern society but our brains need rest to solve problems and reset our biochemicals. A brief period of rest in an otherwise manic day is like medicine to an overworked mind.
If you’re finding yourself heightened in a moment of panic, it can help to engage your five senses to bring you back to calm. Look for five things you can touch, smell, see, hear and taste. Having a relaxing oil blend (I like anything with lavender) in your drawer can help with this.
A plant on your desk can help purify the air and give you a visual focal point for moments of stress. Weeping Figs and Peace Lily’s are best if, like me, you kill anything green that you touch.
We all want to impress our superiors, it’s innately part of our intrinsic need to belong and thrive in our tribes. However, that can lead to saying ‘yes’ to things you’re not comfortable with. If you hate office parties, for instance, it can be hard to say no. If you struggle with this, try the book The Life Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck by Sarah Knight. It’s a sweary but liberating journey through learning to say no, fearlessly.
We’ve all been stuck in those jobs we hate, that seem endless and drain us of all enjoyment in our lives. It’s a horrible but inevitable fact of life. I get through those tough periods with gratitude. Get a notebook and write down three things you’re grateful for each day.
It could be having a comfortable chair to sit in, or a park opposite the office to disappear to at lunchtime. Go forth and enjoy!
Save over £11
when you subscribe today
Exclusive prizes from our Heaven Skincare, Senspa, Green People and more...