7 steps to deal with workplace anxiety


Most of us spend more time at work than we do at home and with our families. This makes having a healthy working environment extremely important.

25-year-old, Bonolo Modise knows this too well. 

“I knew the stress was a bit abnormal at work when I would be anxious, and my stomach would be in knots when I thought about work,” she says.

Another big thing that caused the turmoil in her was working for a company that  did not have a culture and values that were in line with who she was, this making her feel displaced.

“I always felt discouraged because in that environment if one mistake was made, it was like I had never done anything right and that made me scared to fail and to try new things and because I know how failure is going to be received. Not only with the boss but colleagues too.

“No one is allowed to fail and make mistakes, they would say it is okay but that was not the case, rumours down the office aisle were about your ‘failure’”.


What helped Bonolo was reconditioning her mind by separating her personal life with work life because it was so easy for work life to affect all other areas of her life.

“Having activities outside of work really helped.  Gym helped to distract me. Speaking to a colleague I trusted, and I knew was feeling the same way helped because I knew that I was not alone,” she said.

“I had to constantly remind myself that I had a life outside of work,”

Making sure that you have something productive going in your personal life also helps. For her, she has a business called Jewellery by Nollie where she creates accessories. “Creating something for myself outside of work really helped calm me down,” she explained.

Psychologist Athena Laz said in order to deal with work stress you need to recognize what triggers it. 

“When you begin to gain awareness around what triggers you, you start the journey in reclaiming your ability to respond better to things that happen outside of you.

For example: If you always feel bad after an encounter with your boss (that’s the trigger), or if you get angry sitting in traffic (that is a trigger). Simply step back, mentally count to five, and actively choose to feel good for you,” Laz shared.

She added, “Chronic stress is unhealthy for your mind, body and soul. So, choose to take action and re-set those automatic patterns of chronically feeling stressed out.”

Bonolo had to find a way to cope during the time and her migraine headaches weer triggered when she started to stress.

“I would feel extremely overwhelmed. I could not function and could not do anything. I noticed and experienced panic and anxiety attacks and shortness of breath, tightness of chest basically feeling like you are at war, trying to fight for breath. Sweaty palms, feeling hot. Over-eating or not eating at all. Extreme of either, no balance,” she adds.

Athena mentions practical things to do when the stress becomes too much to handle

Step 1: Switch off your cell-phone and find a quiet place where you will not be disturbed

Step 2: The simplest way to meditate is to sit, with your legs uncrossed and feet planted firmly on the ground.

Step 3: Place your palms facing up and simply relax.

Step 4: Bring awareness to your breath.

Step 5: Breathe in and out (on a count of five). In other words, as you inhale, focus only on your breath, count for 5 and then exhale. Focusing fully on your exhale for the count of five. On each inhale mentally repeat the following words: I allow good into my life. On each exhale repeat the following words: I release all frustration, anger and pain from my life.

Step 6: As thoughts come up in your mind (they always do!), simply witness them and re-focus your awareness back onto your breath.

Step 7: Try to do this for a minimum of 5 minutes a day. As it becomes more comfortable for you to meditate, simply increase the time that you sit in meditation.

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