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I feel so anxious

(5 Posts)
Spagbolagain Sun 05-Dec-10 17:58:37

Please help me with any advice, I feel so stressed and anxious. I returned to work 6 wks ago after a year off on maternity. I am a middle manager in a large company, with responsibility for a team. People seemed to think I should be up to speed almost immediately, but I still feel like I don't know what is going on at times, and I am also struggling to make the shift in mindset in going back to work, but nobody cuts any slack for that.

I have got too much to do, my diary is block booked, and still the work and email keeps coming. In the past I would have just worked harder, but with a 1 yr old I just can't do it, as i need to spend time with him and do all the usual shopping, washing etc (DH does more than his share too btw). But when I say to my boss that I can't do things, she just looks at me as if I am whinging or not coping. I have got a knot in my stomach the whole time, I feel totally panicked, and haven't got anyone to talk to. Saying no is just not done, and I am so scared that people are thinking I can't do my job any more. I need to get a grip and cope better, but I just feel myself spiralling into panic. I have to step back, not get stressed, but i dont seem able. Have you got any advice on how to stay calm? What can I do?

madmouse Sun 05-Dec-10 19:28:28

I think you need to start by accepting that your work is being an ass. Everyone who has been out for a year needs to ease back in. So stop blaming yourself and putting the pressure on yourself.

So even if work doesn't give you the space to get back in give yourself the space - take your lunch breaks, leave on time, plan two half hour slots a day to deal with emails and messages and keep breathing.

lisacol Sun 05-Dec-10 21:34:02

oh the joys of working motherhood. it will always be a juggling act, and sometimes you will win and sometimes you have to accept that some of the balls fall down.

I have 3 children and other than my maternity leave have worked as a manager/director.

Advice to your things in order would be:
- try to identify where you don't have the knowledge to be back up to speed, and see if you can get it e.g. 1-1s with key people about changes in co/newsletters etc. Make a point of reminding people that you haven't been around if they mention something you aren't sure of
- can you work any extra? It may sound contra-intuitive but if you can build in any flexibility in your time at all it will reduce your stress - can you come in early sometimes, or have DH pick up your baby 1-2 nights a weeks so you can stay on for 20-30 mins just to finish something off if you need to without cutting too much into your home time (I switched to finishing at 3 on the dot for the school run on one job and found it really dificult and stressful having such a strict deadline). n.b. need to be careful with this, as need to do it to help your workload rather than your boss expecting it as standard
- organise your emails. Read all new ones first thing in the morning once, pick out actions needed and put on a to do list that you roll over each day. Physically cross things off your list as will make you feel better. Bounce back as many as you can - ask for extra info, delegate etc. Try to check at fixed points in the day rather than continually
- have you asked about working from home 1 day a week. You will be amazed at how much more you can get done, no travel time, v few interrruptions. You can dial into meetings and people can call you if they need to speak to you (tho you will be amazed how much less you get bothered if you are not physically there)- and will be less stressful. You can also arrange deliveries, do the washing etc. and other house stuff whilst you are off. (there are rights over flexible working that are stronger when you come back from working so now is the time to ask)
- say no to anything you can do without upsetting people - you can't do this for your core job but you can for the extras. Better to say no than to not do it, or not do it properly. If you can't say no completely then try to push deadlines back to give you longer to do the work. Also use your team to help - will free up a lot more time for you if you delegate, and will develop them and make you look like a good manager. Presumably they picked up stuff whilst you were away

The most important thing is to talk to your boss. Be honest about how you are feeling. If you manage it right then it won't look bad on you, and you should win brownie points for being proactive vs the other option of carrying on, then people thinking you can't cope. Say that you want her help, ask if you can work out a plan together on how to manage the workload, ask what her expectations are and challenge if unrealistic. She gets paid more money than you to support you and the team, and it will be in her interests to make it work as well.

Good luck - I know how hard it can be

Spagbolagain Sun 05-Dec-10 21:52:43

Thank you both. I think I do need to have a proper chat with my boss. I need to stop feeling inadequate and tackle it. Yes, I think I can try and do some work from home, that might help, as would being a bit more disciplined with the email. I think it's just in my nature to try and manage everything myself, and I need to accept that I can't do it all any more and not feel guilty about it.

I just wish I could get rid of this sick, panicky feeling I have all the time, but hopefully if I start to get a bit of control back I'll feel better. Thank you

lisacol Mon 06-Dec-10 16:53:23

I have been dealing with equivalent work stress for something else which had its own share of sick panicky feeling, leading to worrying about it all the time and feeling I can't cope. I started working through a CBT programme on-line "mind gym" which has helped in thinking about why I am stressed e.g. fear of failing, fear of people thinking bad of me etc. and splitting up the actual facts from my perception of them which helps to get perspective and might help when you structure how you want to approach your boss

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