Office environments and I don’t mix. It’s me, not the office, the poor office never asked to be built after all. Besides, if I’m honest, it’s the people in said office that present my anxiety triggers.
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In no particular order:
I don’t want to listen to your music, youtube clip, or podcast. Please be considerate and use f**king headphones. Furthermore, nor am I interested in how many ‘birds’ you banged in Marbella SCOTT. So if you could wait until lunch to share that with your friends, rather than shouting it across the room, that’d be just dandy. Ahhh, the joy of open-plan spaces. Noise plays a central part in my anxiety triggers. It’s a sensory thing. Once I hone in on a sound, I have trouble zoning it out.
Or rather, a lack of it. I’m big on personal boundaries, especially when I’m eating. The idea of someone observing my behaviour freaks me out. I have a lot of weird habits ok…. Why yes, Sarah, I am having a halloumi wrap for the third time this week, whilst watching Women Who Kill. I’m just going through halloumi and poorly made murder reenactment documentary phase at the moment. THAT’S MY PREROGATIVE! GO BACK TO YOUR LENTIL SALAD AND LEAVE ME ALONE!
Irritating or Disgusting Habits
Over the top sneezing, loud chewing, farting (only happened a handful of times, but I still believe the person should’ve been sacked)! Sighing, humming, loud yawning, sniffing, slurping… or a personal favourite, repeatedly stating how busy YOUR life is, just loud enough so that we all can hear. I get it Naomi, you have kids, a full-time job, marathon training, several weddings this year AND you’re throwing a BBQ for Megan & Harry. You’re amazing…. happy now?
When I worked in an office I was ill at least once a month. The common cold, viral infections, Noro bug, Gastroenteritis. You name it. It’s a breeding ground for bacteria. Then there’s always that martyr who insists on coming in, even though they’re at death’s door. Thank you very much for infecting the rest of us! Being ill is another big anxiety trigger. It drains my energy and makes me feel raw.
Nothing sends a chill up my spine quite like the phrase, “you have to play the game.” WHAT GAME? THERE’S A GAME? THE ONLY ONE I’M GOOD AT IS TABOO! The idea that the office is like ‘The Godfather’ or an episode of Game of Thrones is unnerving. I don’t have any dragons and Rigby is more of a hamster than a Direwolf.
The ‘bums on seats’ Culture
There’s always a manager who takes great pride in spending every waking moment at their desk. The type that makes a comment if you’re 3 minutes late, or if you ask to leave early. I mean seriously, we’re all adults here. You hired me to do a job, so trust that I’ll do that job in the time given. Not everybody works in the same way. Besides, just because I’m sat here doesn’t mean that I’m working. Chances are I’m on BuzzFeed or Instagram…
Office Survival Tips
To be clear, I don’t hate everyone who works in the office. In fact, some of my closest friends were made from across a desk. However, I didn’t thrive in that atmosphere and it was anxiety-inducing.
Some tips to help you stay sane:
Earphones. Self-explanatory. If I found myself getting wound up by somebody else’s noise, it was comforting to know that I could cancel it out with The Beatles, or a historical documentary.
Top tip – buy two pairs and leave one set at your desk. That way you’ll never make the dreaded mistake of leaving them at home, but only realising when you’re halfway through your commute. THE HORROR!
Aromatherapy oil. Scent goes straight to the Amygdala (responsible for emotions, especially stress and fear). It’s why certain smells makes you feel happy, like pine trees, whilst others make you angry. I used to keep a vial of lemon oil on my desk, to be sniffed if the office was sweaty, or if some dick had an egg sandwich for lunch. The lemon was so strong that it instantly overpowered all of the other smells, and reset my senses. After a good sniff, I felt energised and as though I had reclaimed the air around me. Peppermint is good too.
Antibacterial Gel. Never underestimate this stuff. Obviously, still wash your hands, but antibacterial gel is just an extra line of defense against germs. I used mine 3 times a day, along with hand cream to prevent dry skin. If there was a particularly nasty bug going around, I’d even put some inside my nose! (Mixed with a little moisturiser).
Leave the office. I don’t care if you prefer to eat lunch at your desk, that’s cool. But be sure to get out for some fresh air. It will help to clear your head and burn off any adrenaline that’s been triggered by stress. A change of environment will also change up your headspace and ultimately your mood.
Leave your desk. As tempting as it is, don’t just sit and stew over some annoying colleagues having a loud conversation. It’ll make you feel angry and powerless. Instead, accept that they’re not going anywhere and leave your desk for 5 minutes. Go and make a cup of tea, visit the loo, or just go for a wander. It’s a simple way to take back control and change your headspace.
Bigger picture. Finally, take a deep breathe and try and have a ‘bigger picture’ mentality. Rationalise that a situation is ‘annoying’ or that the people involved are ‘inconsiderate,’ but in the grand schemes of things, is it really that big a deal? Try and focus your energy in a more positive way, such as what you’ll have for dinner or plans for the weekend. Angry can be a real drain on the soul.