My whole life I’ve suffered from anxiety.
But when I moved to Melbourne in 2016 it hit its worst. Anxiety is like when a dog is viciously approaching you and you freak out. It came to a point where I was always in fear and my automatic natural thoughts were negative. I was constantly worrying.
Lots of things happened at once. I just moved back from Turkey. I had graduated from University to professional life. I moved to a new city and I knew nobody in Melbourne. I was starting a new job with Accenture and with all the change happening my anxiety started to get worse. I needed to chill out and figure out how to deal with it.
That’s when I found yoga. After my very first session I noticed that I was breathing properly and my mind was less scattered. That was the beginning of major change in my life.
Over time I started to do more and more sessions. I went from 3 times a week, to 4 times a week to 5 times a week. I started getting up at 6am to do a class before work. I sacrificed going out in order to do my 8pm session. And my eureka moment was when I realised everything was changing for the better.
I stopped over thinking. My anxiety calmed down. My approach to work improved. My thoughts changed from negative to positive. I’d grounded myself over time.
And I thank yoga for that. You don’t do one session and have this existential epiphany, it’s something that happens over time. And I truly believe yoga can have major benefits personally and professionally – especially for anxious millennials.
How it works
In yoga you’re connecting your mind, your breath and your body. When you’re doing a very intense stretch, every move is linked to your breath. You breathe and move one step further, you breathe out and move an extra step further. After 60 minutes you’ve had this perfect link between thinking about your breath and moving and you’ve thought about nothing else but being on your mat. And when you do that over time you start to live in the present, you start to be grounded and you start to approach many things in a positive way.
Benefits for anxious millennials in the workplace
Millennials want instant gratification. When I go to work I constantly want feedback, I constantly worry about my promotion, I constantly worry about my project and how I’m performing. But what yoga has taught me is that you should focus on the present and what you can do now. I use what I’ve learned in yoga with my approach to work. In yoga it’s about getting into a flow and it’s the same at work. The more work you do, the more you’ll improve your work, the more you’ll improve your flow. So you’re learning from your moves.
Accept your imperfections in work
Yoga teaches you about imperfections and this is something millennials need to know in the workforce. We want to be the best, we get anxious because we want to make sure everything we do is flawless. We want everything to be perfect and received well. In yoga your instructor wants you to focus purely on your imperfections. If you can’t do this stretch, you stop right there and practice. Only when you can do the move do you move on to the next part of the sequence. If you let yourself accept that and know that you will improve over time. And that’s the mentality we should have at work.
Work with your manager to find balance
Accenture places a huge emphasis on work life balance and what you need to do to “bring yourself to work”. I’ve seen many employees stay back late every day. But I spoke openly with my manager early on about my anxiety and what I need to do to manage it. And they’ve been fantastic. So if I have lots of work to do, I still leave work at 5pm, go and do my yoga session at 6pm and then log back in after dinner and finish my work. It's so important to manage that with your manager and set those expectations and be responsible for yourself.
Anxiety is a common problem amongst millennials. It is part of the millennial jargon these days and often discussed amongst my peers. But I truly believe if more millennials took the time to practice yoga and mindfulness they would improve so many elements of their work and life. I’m the most anxious person I know – and it worked for me!