Anxiety getting the better of you? Let’s reverse this

Mental health in wind energy

Madrid / 4 July 2022

Feeling of dread. Tightness of chest. Heavy breathing. These are just some of the ways anxiety manifests. Some amount of anxiety is considered normal, helpful even. Concern arises when the feeling persists and ends up interfering with daily life, including at the workplace. When left unchecked, anxiety can impair productivity, cause absenteeism, and affect relationships with colleagues and supervisors.

Communication Department

At Siemens Gamesa, we believe in breaking down the stigma around mental health by encouraging open and honest conversations. Health, whether physical or mental, is a priority. In April 2021, we instituted the SGRE Mental Health Scientific Advisory Board comprising experts recognized in the academic world. The idea was for the company to garner adequate scientific support to promote mental health care at the workplace.

The pandemic has only heightened the urgency of tackling anxiety. Data released by the WHO reveals that in the first year of the COVID-19, global prevalence of anxiety and depression increased by a massive 25 per cent. According to experts, problems at work can aggravate pre-existing conditions or bring on symptoms.

Having anxiety and feeling anxious. There is a difference.
By itself, anxiety is not a problem, observes Jesús Fagúndez, the SGRE Mental Health coordinator and supervisor of the advisory board, highlighting the importance of differentiating between anxiety and anxiety disorder. "Anxiety is that feeling of fear or anguish that we have in the face of some situations or stimuli. It is a normal reaction in a demanding scenario, such as speaking in public or during an interview. But anxiety becomes a problem when it unleashes extreme intensity or lasts a long time [say, more than six months]. Then, we may be suffering from an anxiety disorder,” explains Fagúndez.

Over the past year, the company has rolled out various programs to improve collaboration, well-being and performance of our employees. For instance, 'Back to Better' was the first step of this process that provided a platform for discussing the difficulties employees may face returning to work. Another significant step was to launch the Perceived Stress Survey (PSS) to measure the stress and anxiety levels in our workforce.
Anxiety is that feeling of fear or anguish
While there are various types of anxiety disorders, what is common to them is their ability to induce a morbid fear of things that have not happened or do not exist. Board member, Imanol Querejeta Ayerdi, and Head of Psychiatry Service in the Basque Country, says the exact cause of anxiety disorder is unknown and is usually a mixture of genetic or environmental factors. “Personality traits favor the appearance of long-lasting anxiety. For example, introverts are more susceptible to develop it. But traumatic experiences in childhood or the parental educational style have a lot to do with the propensity to develop this disorder.”
Empowering employees to manage anxiety with the right tools
Not everyone might be able to effectively manage and cope with their anxiety at work. Commenting on how the SGRE advisory board has created a primer to help employees deal with it better, accomplished member, Javier Meana Martinez, a Pharmacology University Professor in Basque Country, believes that while it is important to know what to do, knowing what not to do is equally essential. “What is not recommended, is to say “you have to get over it”, “put more energy into it” or “it is not that bad”. It is better to verbalize the fact that this person may need help and it would be convenient that specialized people assess the person suffering,” recommends Martinez.
No matter what anxiety looks like for you, there are research-based practices that can help us cope more skillfully with it. Organize and plan the daily workday, establish priorities and work according to them, suggest experts. Power this with adequate self-care, sleep, healthy diet, and daily physical exercise and you will be in a far better position to manage anxiety. Even 30 minutes of walking in a green area is a good method of anxiety control. Although exercising is not going to be a panacea to relieve mental health disorders, the hormones that are secreted during physical activity can help us control our mood and release accumulated stress.
SGRE advisory board has created a primer to help employees
"Physical activity helps to lower heart rate, control blood pressure and facilitates the release of substances such as endorphins. These induce relaxation and a pleasurable feeling. Anything that improves your circulation helps you in situations that generate anxiety and also in stress management,” concurs Ayerdi.

While we, as a company, understand our responsibility towards addressing anxiety at the workplace, you have to be open to the idea of seeking professional help if you detect an anxiety disorder in yourself. Entrusting a specialist to know how to assess your case in a personalized way can make a huge difference.

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