I’ve been employed for a little over a year now, and these last two weeks have been, by far, the lowest time in that whole period. Allow me to set the stage.

My company is expanding rapidly. We’re taking on numerous new, big-name clients — recognizable brands that have a lot of pull and a lot of money to spend. All in all, it’s a fantastic time for the company, but it does create quite a bit of additional work for everyone, myself included. Normally, I’d be prepared for it — my team would be prepared for it — but that hasn’t been the case.

First, my boss fell ill, which meant I had to take on the majority of their workload: internal administrative stuff, existing client work, meetings after meetings, etc. Then, because of the aforementioned company expansion, we also had to take on one new, very important client. So, in addition to the extra work, I already had to handle, I was now responsible for on-boarding one of the most important clients my team has ever seen. All of this was compounded by the fact that I have my own work to take care of, which, on any given 40-hour week, keeps me fairly busy as it is. Like I said, a great time for the company, a very hectic, stressful, anxiety-inducing time for me.

A Little Optimism When Work Gets Tough

In times of professional turmoil, we all need something to be positive about. We all need a little optimism. Here are a few things I’ve kept in mind to get me through the rest of this hectic period at work.

When Anxiety Clouds Your Assessment of a Situation

When the pressure is on, anxiety tends to rule my life. It rules weekends. It rules my free time. It haunts me, and though I’m sometimes successful at pushing it far back in my mind, I can always sense it lingering there.

In times of professional turmoil, we all need a little optimism.

During the past couple weeks, I’ve been getting terrible anxiety about the sheer workload I anticipate I’ll be facing the next time I walk into work. I think about all of the important work that needs to be done, all the conflicting deadlines, the clients that demand immediate prioritization over other work, the potential consequences if I mess any of it up… these thoughts dominate the time between workdays. Whenever I wasn’t actually working, I was worrying about work, or otherwise thinking about something work-related. The anxiety essentially rendered work-life balance non-existent.

But when the next workday comes, I learn that there’s a disconnect between my anxiety and reality.

The day is never really as bad as I previously anticipated. Sure, it’s still bad, and I still wish I wasn’t under so much pressure, but I’ve found that things sort of fall into place. Eight hours is a long time, and you can get quite a bit done if your singular focus during the day is churning out work.

I think that’s something to keep in mind when you’re under the gun at work: it’s almost never as bad as you think it’s going to be. Your anxiety is simply trying to prepare you for the worst, but “the worst” as you can imagine it is often several magnitudes more awful than reality.

It takes some experience to realize that your anxiety isn’t always trustworthy. Once you come to that realization, I think it’s something to be optimistic about. Whatever you’re going through, it’s almost never as bad as you imagine it will be.

Hard Times Build Confidence and Experience

Thinking back to my anxiety, it stemmed, I realize, from a major lack of confidence in my abilities.

be optimistic when work gets toughI simply wasn’t sure I could handle all that work. I wasn’t sure I could meet all the deadlines. I wasn’t sure that I could get through the week without making a major mistake and causing a catastrophic problem at my job. I wasn’t going to be sure about my ability to do (or not do) any of those things until I had actually done (or not done) them. I couldn’t have confidence in myself to handle my job’s difficulties until I had actually handled them and proved it to myself.

The fact is that once this difficult period was over — after my boss had come back and lent me much needed support after we had hit our stride with new clients — I would be better at my job. I would be more capable of handling the chaos inherent to my industry, and it was something that I looked forward to immensely.

That being said, the hard times still suck when you’re going through them. If I had the choice, I would’ve chosen to avoid these past couple weeks altogether. But I didn’t have a choice; I had to endure them. I also had to realize that all the stress and anxiety would be, in hindsight, an important lesson for me in the future. Progress and growth often come from pain and difficulty, but it’s not always easy to realize that when you’re actually going through said pain or difficulty.

I knew something good would come out of these past couple weeks. I’d be more confident in my abilities. I’d be more accurate in my assessments of how hectic a given week might be. The thought of the strength and experience I’d gain because of this difficult time has been critical to helping me endure.

Looking Ahead to Good Times

I think one of the biggest things that got me through these past couple weeks was knowing that the whole situation was ultimately temporary. Despite the anxiety and stress, I knew in the back of my mind that good times were ahead; I would have more support and a manageable workload once more.

It’s always good to have something to look forward to when you’re enduring a tough time. A light at the end of the tunnel, so to speak. Even if you don’t have a vacation or something particularly rewarding to look forward to, you can still appreciate the fact that times in the future will at least be more enjoyable and easier on your nerves than the times you’re going through now.

I look forward to the good times that will follow this busy, stress-filled period at work. I look forward to the weekends without anxiety. I look forward to devoting 100% of my free time to enjoying my free time, not worrying about work.

A better, stress-free future is something to be optimistic about. It’s a reason to keep on going when you’re faced with challenge after challenge.

Featured Photo by Graeme Nicholl on Unsplash
Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash
When things are hectic and stressful, anxiety creeps in. It's a challenge to have optimism when work gets tough. But you can, and here's how.