TNL Mindful Mondays, Episode 3: Anxiety at Work
In our new minicast That Nursery Life founder Sam Green tackles some of the daily stresses and challenges that early years practitioners face with a mindful approach to help you start your nursery week in a positive frame of mind.
In the third of our Mindful Mondays podcasts, Sam checks in on how you are feeling, shares his own experiences managing workplace anxiety, and highlights some useful resources and approaches that have helped him.
Hello and welcome to episode three of TNL's Mindful Monday Podcast. In our first couple of episodes, we've been focused on being mindful of some of the amazing privileges we get to experience as early as professionals.
This week, I thought we'd take a bit of a different approach and focus on you. Yes, you listening to this right now. The two of us are going to have a go at grabbing anxiety by the scruff of the neck and starting the week in a less anxious frame of mind.
Before we get into any Scruff of the neck grabbing we should probably work out if and what we're feeling anxious about. Anxiety feels different for different people. For some, anxiety manifests itself through changes to fundamental parts of life, such as trouble sleeping, needing to use the toilet much more or much less, or changes to your sex drive.
Anxiety can also cause all sorts of physical symptoms, like a churning feeling in your stomach, a feeling of restlessness or being unable to sit still, headaches, backaches, and pins and needles, lightheadedness, or a feeling of your heart racing, among many others. According to Mind, one in six people report common mental health problems including anxiety in any given week in England.
And those working in inherently emotional professions, such as early years, are known to be at higher risk. If any of the things that I've just described strike a chord with you, then let's see if we can use some simple exercises to feel a bit better.
Now I'm going to level with you. One of the things I find hardest to do when I'm feeling anxious is to address it head on. I sometimes feel as though there's a tangled mess of thoughts and feelings in one corner of my mind. I know that's what I'm worrying about, but I don't want to bring it out into the light and do something about it. But doing exactly that is what we sometimes need to do.
Happily, more often than not, bringing that clump of knotted up thoughts and feelings out into the bright light of day, can really make them much less intimidating than they were in the shadows. When we get a proper look at our anxiety, reality and rationality can sometimes diminish it substantially.
So now that we've got our anxiety out in the open, what can we do to send it packing for the week ahead now I'm no expert, so I'm unashamedly turning to the wisdom of those who are for this bit.
Anxiety Canada have some excellent resources to support you in all sorts of mental health self-care techniques and I think their set of questions to help challenge negative thinking might be especially valuable for us today.
Thinking about any anxious thoughts we fished out of that shadowy corner of our minds, let's consider these questions:
Have I confused a thought with a fact?
What would a friend say about my thought?
Am I confusing a possibility with a certainty?
For my part, I've been feeling pretty anxious about recording this episode and even as I shared those questions, I find myself reflecting that part of me has been quietly confusing thoughts about this episode not being helpful with the fact that it wouldn't be.
Now, regardless of whether or not you think this episode is any good, at least I'm feeling a little bit less tense about it.
How are you feeling? Do any anxious thoughts you identified feel a bit more manageable?
Have those simple questions prompted you to look at something in a different, less anxious way?
If the answer is no, that's absolutely fine too. In the same way that however much we do to look after our physical health, we all need the support of others from time to time when we're feeling under the weather, it's just as normal and healthy to seek support if you're struggling with feelings of anxiety that won't go away, or are feeling unmanageable. You can speak to a trusted friend, relative or co-worker, or you can reach out to professionals who can offer more comprehensive support.
You can get advice on where and how to access this sort of support on Mind's website. That's mind.org.uk, or by calling their info line on 0300 123 3393.
As we all set off for another week, living Our Nursery Life, let's all trying to be bold in facing our anxiety head-on. If we can diminish it by challenging our anxious thoughts with logic and rationality? Fantastic.
If we can't, let's tell someone that and benefit from their support. I'd like to finish this week with a personal request:
Can you help me put my mind at rest and let me know whether or not this podcast was helpful? It's still something I'm finding my feet with and any feedback, good or otherwise, would be wonderful.
You can reach me on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Have a great week.
For the latest in early years news, tools, support and best practice, go to www.thatnurserylife.com