How to Turn Your Work-Related Stress and Anxiety into Accomplishments Feeling sad about your current job or stuck in a career you hate? Use these tips to turn things around and start moving ahead while you're looking for a new job.

By Kanika Tolver

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Thomas Barwick | Getty Images

The following excerpt is from Kanika Tolver's book Career Rehab. Buy it now from Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iTunes

Career sadness can build over years and affect your confidence, but you have to get the sadness out and get to the root of what will make you happy. The process of letting go of this sadness will require you to fight off the mental, physical, and spiritual side effects of stress, anxiety, and depression. You can't rehab your career if you're feeling:

Related: 8 Questions That Will Help Diagnose Your Current Career Status




So let's lose the SAD. We're going to rename SAD to ADS (short for "advertisements"), because you have to turn your SAD into ADS as you brand, market, and sell yourself:

Accomplish. Turn your anxiety into accomplishments


Dominate. Make your depression take a back seat to success


Success. Enjoy the results of flipping the script on sadness, anxiety, and depression

Let's look at the two main steps (Accomplish plus Dominating) that will help you reach the Success stage.

Related: Build Your Squad for Financial Success

Step 1: Turn Anxiety into Accomplishments

Stress sometimes triggers anxieties about work, and anxiety-driven fear can make you feel like you can't accomplish what you set out to do. You have to replace that fear with faith. Faith will help you design, build, test, and launch your career and land your dream job. Once you make it through the process, you'll see there was never anything to fear.

According to the CBHS Health Fund, typical workplace anxieties include:

  • Fear of public speaking, sharing in meetings or working in groups
  • Fear of deadlines
  • Worrying about one's quality of work
  • Fear of being judged by coworkers
  • Fear of interacting with authority figures

Here are 10 ways to combat these anxieties and turn them into accomplishments:

  1. Create a daily to-do list and prioritize your tasks in small chunks.
  2. Develop an honest, transparent relationship with your supervisor.
  3. Build relationships with professionals on your team who can help you when you run into trouble with a complex task.
  4. Communicate in person when you need clarity on a deliver­able; sometimes emails and phone calls don't help you prog­ress.
  5. Don't get involved in office politics or drama; it will only increase your fear and anxiety.
  6. Set realistic and concise deadlines, and don't overcommit when you're assigned a task.
  7. Update your team members and manager weekly on your progress, so if a deadline needs to be extended, they'll have been involved the entire time.
  8. Identify what calms you down when you're working. Maybe listening to music or working alone in a conference room can create a new sense of peace for you.
  9. Get more sleep at night; being better-rested will help you feel less anxious.
  10. Talk your feelings out with someone who understands your anxiety attacks. A sympathetic listener will help calm you down when they strike.

The battle of anxiety can be difficult; it takes practice and self-awareness to cope on a regular basis. The key is to focus on the small victories, assess your reactions, and keep trying to react more positively each time.

Related: The 9-Step Quick Guide to Rehabbing Your Career

Step 2: Dominate Your Depression

Career and/or personal depression may have affected you at some time in your life. But creating a lifestyle that can help you cope with depression is vital to the process of dominating it. When you feel depressed, you don't feel like you can accomplish anything, and it can be hard to tackle assignments at work or feel empowered to level up your career.

According to the American Psychiatric Association (APA), depression symptoms can vary from mild to severe and can include:

  • Feelings of sadness or depressed mood
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in activities
  • Changes in appetite
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Loss of energy
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Thoughts of death or suicide

Any or all of these symptoms may indicate that you're experiencing depression, which may significantly impact your career. When depression hits you, it can be hard to even think about rehabbing your personal brand. The great thing about career rehab is that it can help you better manage your sadness by moving your focus from how you feel to how you want to feel.

When depression is caused by job-related circumstances, it can be very hard to navigate work-performance challenges and healthy working relationships with your co-workers and management team. There's no worse feeling than being physically at work while your mind is somewhere else due to depression. And yet you have to keep coming to work because you have bills to pay.

Here are six ways to tackle depression at work:

  1. Find out if your company offers confidential counseling programs. Most large organizations offer free counseling to their employees. You can work with your HR department or employee relations department to find out what your com­pany offers.
  2. Take frequent breaks at work. It's OK to take a walk outside and enjoy the sunshine, which can bring a little more joy into your life when you're trying to manage your symptoms of depression.
  3. Make your cubicle or office feel more like you. Place pictures of your family on your desk. Hang artwork or funny quotes on the wall that can make you smile.
  4. Find someone on your team whom you can exercise with during lunch or after work. A workout buddy is great for accountability, and it will also allow you to work off those feelings of sadness.
  5. Go to lunch with co-workers who you can laugh with and try new restaurants with. Having fun at lunch is a great way to take your mind off feeling sad.
  6. Leave work early or take a few days off to rejuvenate yourself until you feel more productive.

By taking some (or all!) of these steps in your personal and professional life, you can better manage depression and its effects on your career, turning negative energy into success. You may not be able to eradicate it completely, but you can lessen its impact on your career and achieve the success you want.

Wavy Line
Kanika Tolver

Entrepreneur Leadership Network VIP

CEO and Author of Career Rehab

Kanika Tolver is the CEO and founder of Career Rehab, LLC in Washington, D.C., where she helps clients transform their careers with coaching programs, events, webinars and digital resources to help people reach their career goals. An in-demand coach, consultant, speaker and thought leader, she has been featured on CNN, CNBC, CBS Radio, Yahoo!, Black Enterprise,,, The Washington Post and a variety of radio interviews and podcasts. Kanika is the author of the acclaimed title, 'Career Rehab: Rebuild Your Personal Brand and Rethink the Way You Work.' 

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