A few changes have occurred in the past two weeks, since giving up caffeine and gluten. For starters, I've noticed that despite the fact that my anxiety still kicks into high gear when I am at work, the annoyance I typically experience when things go unexpectedly does not linger and logic kicks in more easily. For instance, last week, something came up where I was told that I did not need to be on a conference call as a person from a different unit was assigned to handle it. However, an hour before the call was scheduled to take place, I received an email from the party who would be taking the lead on the call as he had wanted to confirm my attendance and thought I would be the only person on my company's behalf involved in the call. Of course, this upset me as although my boss had told me that I need not partake in the call and that another coworker would be assigned, he failed to communicate this to the other parties involved.
Although I did become a bit up in arms and panicked for a good ten minutes, as the call was only a half an hour from taking place and my boss was at lunch and the coworker who was supposed to be assigned was not in the office, I finally resolved to just let whatever happen happen and to simply see what my boss wanted to do when he returned. It ended up not being a big deal, as I presumed would be the case after reflecting upon it. Had I been caffeinated, I'm sure this would have played out a bit differently. At least, I know my frustration would not have dissipated as quickly and I may have dwelled on it a bit longer. My thought process was much more clear and composed in this situation without having had caffeine.
Also, today I received a criticism from my boss, and rather than take it personally and harp on it in my mind, I realized it wasn't all that bad. I didn't feel as defensive about it, and just rectified the issue and moved on, with no hard feelings towards my boss.
Another change I have noticed for the better is the fact that certain actions or attitudes of others do not anger me as much. They still hurt me though. For instance, if I feel ignored or I'm insulted, of course, I feel hurt. The most marked difference is the fact that I feel more sad and emotional than angry. I am able to cry. This is a weird one, as I have been able to cry on occasion, but it's been rough these past few months and it's been difficult for me to break through that emotional barrier throughout the work week, when I've really felt I've needed to purge the build up tension. Since eliminating caffeine, I have been able to release the built up pressure by crying (outside of work). The strange part is that I've been feeling rather down in the late afternoon at times and a bit teary eyed on occasion, which is a new feeling for me. I'm used to feeling extremely anxious after my lunch break, but not sad/depressed. However, I'm feeling more down lately. At the same time, I can at least more clearly reflect on why I'm having those feelings I'm having when not wired with caffeine. It seems to correlate with the stress going on in my life outside of work and the pressures I'm putting on myself in many aspects, work and otherwise. I'm no longer escaping and/or suppressing those feelings with my caffeine habit. Could be a result of eliminating gluten too, who knows.
A few things I've noticed with my anxiety and sadness throughout the work day is there are those activities that exacerbate my feelings and those activities that mitigate those negative feelings (Again, going caffeine/gluten free can be accredited for my achieving this clarity):
- Meditation - When I meditate regularly, I feel better on the whole, more equipped to cope with whatever is thrown my way
- Interaction - The more people with whom I come into contact throughout the day (aside from telephone calls), the less 'down' I feel when the late afternoon rolls around and the more motivated I feel
- Music - This can have dual effects. If I'm trying to concentrate, it's an interference and can trigger my anxiety. If I'm feeling overly anxious and need a release from the quiet tension at work (since it's so quiet you could hear a pin drop and for some reason this makes me feel that any and every movement I make is pronounced), music in this case can be quite the relief I need. If I listen to music throughout the majority of the work day and then try to unwind without it later in the afternoon, I feel anxious. Fast music particularly triggers my anxiety at work.
- Monitoring others - There is a way to check the status of others' work loads in my work environment. When I check on the status of others' tasks, it causes anxiety, without fail.
- Email checking - Checking my email frequently leads to anxiety. It is difficult however to resist the urge! Sometimes it helps if I keep a tally so I don't overdo it, but I struggle with sticking to this method of self-control.
- Voicemail checking - For some reason, whenever the voicemail indicator (a red beady light) is on, I become anxious. It worsens when I retrieve the voicemails as I hate to have any background activities requiring completion and I'd rather get everything done at once and not have to worry about menial tasks, like phone calls, popping up as I then feel like I need to handle them immediately or they just prey on my mind. The beady light and the actual voicemail messages are a deadly combo for my anxiety.
- Deep breathing - Helps me calm down a bit (or very much so, depending on my diligence)
- Focusing on the present - Listening to those sounds in my environment and really attending to the present moment helps relieve some of the fears that contribute to my anxiety. The one problem is when I listen to others speak, there's a lot of internal comparing going on which of course affects me negatively, so I obviously need to work on that aspect.