How to Handle Work Stress and Anxiety

Since it’s been a while since I’ve done a random life update, I figured now would be a good time to write about one area of my life that has been a little crazy. It can be tough trying to handle work stress and anxiety, as well as personal stress.

My last random life update was fifteen months ago! So much has changed since that post and I feel like a totally different person.

While this post isn’t dedicated to all the random things I could ramble about, I am going to write about one area that’s really impacted me over the past six months.

On the flip side, work and blogging is great. If you need some help earning extra income, this free guide will teach you to earn extra blog income overnight!

I’m going to warn you guys – this post is a little heavier than I normally write about on my blog. If you get my weekly newsletter, then you know that’s where I prefer to get really personal.

With so much chatter happening between my blogger friends and non-blogger friends, I thought now was as good of a time to share one area in my life that I was struggling with on a regular basis.

Related reading:

Let’s talk about stress and anxiety

Here are seven ways to learn how to reduce stress and anxiety. These are the best tips to live a healthy lifestyle!
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Lately I’ve been having a lot of conversations with my friends about stress, overwhelm and mental well-being. The common takeaway from every conversation seems to be that we are all on overload and are all struggling with getting everything done.

Don’t get me wrong – I am super happy with my life!

My goal was to be able to quit my day job and create a blog and business that would allow me to earn a full time living.

The past two years have been some of the best years of my life because I have a freedom that I never thought was possible.

Also, if you are a blogger and feel overwhelmed and stressed out or don’t know what to work on first, I recommend downloading this free guide that will help you really focus on the right things with your blog.

This freedom has allowed me to create my own work schedule, travel, spend more time doing what I want, etc.

There are some downsides to being self-employed.

The obvious stresses were being responsible for paying my own taxes, figuring out health insurance, retirement accounts, etc.

I also stopped having a steady paycheck, which was really scary! Now that I’m self employed, my paycheck dates vary.

I’ve always had some stress and anxiety, but I had no idea how much my stress level would change the longer I became self employed.

Towards the end of my first full year of blogging last year, I realized something was off.

Instead of feeling uplifted at what an amazing year I had created all myself, I was stressed out, anxious and exhausted.

Blogging stopped being fun

While my income was steadily increasing, I felt disconnected from everyone, including my own blog.

I started this blog as a personal finance blogger, but stopped identifying as only a personal finance blogger.

My Pinterest virtual assistant business took off, which lead to an entire hallway of new doors that opened.

While it all happened organically, I felt like I had two personalities – I was a side hustler blogger and a Pinterest educator with three Pinterest products (Pinterest Presence, Become a Pinterest VA TODAY!, Pinterest templates).

Things got harder when I started receiving a handful of emails of people calling me out for having a blog with the word ‘budget’ in the title, but not writing about budgeting anymore.

Some emails went as far as to ask why I was even still blogging still and they couldn’t identify with the Pinterest side of things.

A fellow blogger criticized my success and felt that I achieved too much too early on.

That hurt because I thought she was my friend. 

I had another blogger send me a nasty email letting me know she was way too important to hang out with someone like me.

That was probably for the better, since her email said a lot about her character.

I started to think, is this the new normal?

Even though I received a ton of awesome, amazing emails and have made amazing blogging and business friends, I focused on that 1% of negativity and let it dictate my life. It took me a while to realize it’s not me, it’s them. People lash out at other people when they are experiencing difficulty or having self issues and choose to take it out on other people.

I felt guilty as my income increased

With the few negative emails and other disconnect, I started to hate (yeah, I know, that’s a strong word) writing blog income reports and sharing my income online.

I felt guilty that my income was increasing and worried readers wouldn’t identify that I was still just like them.

Sharing my first blog income report for $60 was and is still my favorite blog income report. Want to know where the guilt came in? 

It was actually easier to make over $22,000 last month than it was to make that first $60 from my blog.

Those first four months of blogging were the hardest months of all my blogging. The biggest challenge was just getting started and sticking with it.

While blogging is still hard for different reasons, those first few months defined who I was. I had the drive to succeed. I wanted to learn how to blog, and I was determined to leave my day job and create my own version of freedom.

Writing my first online income report for $60 was the best feeling ever!

For the past year, I’ve worked really hard for my income to become more ‘passive’, meaning that I could earn income when I wasn’t technically on my laptop working.

It wasn’t easy – I had to start from scratch and figure out how to do that.

Unfortunately, this affiliate income course wasn’t created yet or I would have save a lot of time with my research, re-writing blog posts, etc. πŸ™‚

Surprisingly, I’ve only received positive emails about my income reports, so that feeling of guilt was completely self-induced. If you want to start your dream blog, you can get blogging ideas and tips here.

My anxiety and stress exploded

While it sounds ridiculous, every month that my income increased, I started questioning WHY I deserved to make more money. I started to ask myself:

  • Have I just gotten lucky?
  • Is is really fair that my friend works 40+ hours a week and I can earn more working less hours?
  • Is this going to go away? Is everything going to crash and burn and next month I’ll make zero dollars?
  • If my blog and business fails, what will I do? Will I have to go back to a 9-5 job?

All of these questions increased my stress and anxiety.

Eventually I realized that these are good problems to have and my work situation could be a lot worse. I’m incredibly grateful for my job as a blogger and business owner!

I reached out for help

It took me a couple of months to decide that I needed help.

The first thing I did was see a doctor. He helped me get on the right medication to help with the stress and anxiety.

This made a huge difference and really helped me cut down on the panic attacks and lack of sleep.

I know everyone has different feelings towards medication, but it was the right decision for me.

I also re-evaluated my life and made a list of things that I needed help with on a personal and professional level.

  • I needed an overall work-life balance
  • I needed an activity, hobby or distraction that would help with anxiety and be a stress reliever
  • I needed to learn how to separate myself from negativity, be it people, online or in any situation

Here’s a few ways to reduce stress and create a better work-life balance

Below is a list of everything I have done over the past six months to reduce my stress and anxiety and create a better work-life balance.

These have all made a huge, positive impact in my life! I think I will always have some stress and anxiety, but it’s decreased greatly and I feel like I am back to my normal range of handling stress!

Spend less time online

Social media has become a major time suck for me personally and professionally.

Trying to stay caught up with all different social media platforms was leaving me exhausted and causing me stress.

I also started feeling a disconnect viewing picture after picture of everyone showcasing the ‘best of the best’ images.

My life feels far from perfect and I had to keep reminding myself that no one is going to share the hard or less perfect stuff. So FYI, writing this blog post isn’t easy πŸ™‚

I intentionally changed my behavior to reduce the amount of time I was spending online. I decided to keep Instagram, but I removed Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and SnapChat from my cell phone.

These platforms weren’t making me happy, distracting me and wasting my time. Facebook was the biggest time suck for me.

Now I’m intentional about how much time I will spend online each day. I use the ‘shortcuts’ tab for important group boards I participate in and removed myself from a ton of group boards that weren’t benefitting me.

I also rarely scroll my feed.

If it weren’t for my Facebook business page and a few select group boards, I would close my Facebook account if possible πŸ™‚

If you have the same issue, try to cut down how many social media platforms you use and limit how much time you spend online!

Find a workout or activity that reduces stress

Lately I’ve been on a boxing and yoga kick. Both activities have helped me reduce my stress and anxiety and help me commit to a schedule.

When I’m boxing, every punch feels like I’m releasing stress that has been building up.

Exercising has really helped me mentally and physically!

Signing up for boxing and yoga was a big step for me! I’ve never comfortable in large group settings, especially when it comes to working out.

I had to do some serious shopping around to figure out how to find classes that would help an introvert feel comfortable in a group setting πŸ™‚

Fortunately, my friend introduced me to ClassPass and can’t believe I haven’t heard about it until recently.

ClassPass is a nationwide pass that you can use to try out tons of different fitness classes, studios and gyms. You just enter your zip code and can view what’s available in your area.

It’s a great way to experiment and try out different studios without committing to one particular place (or paying registration fees, sign up fees, etc.)

ClassPass has done wonders to help me try new things and helped me stay active. There are different packages depending on how many times you want to work out a month and no weird fees. In my first month,

I signed up for the 5 ClassPass and only paid $10, but there are larger packages as well! Sign up to get $40 off your first month here (and only pay $10 for 5 classes anywhere!) 

Take a mini vacation, workation or staycation

When it comes to getting away from real life, I’ve become a big fan of two to three night mini vacations.

Short getaways have done wonders for my health and helped me create a better work-life balance.

Have you ever come back from a long vacation and then feel like you need a staycation so you can catch up on everything? Yup, that’s me! 

I’ve actually found myself less stressed by taking a mini vacation versus a long vacation. I also would rather go on multiple mini-vacations throughout the year instead of one longer vacation.

As a full-time blogger and business owner, my laptop comes with me everywhere.

Even on vacation, I still enjoy waking up early and getting an hour or two of work done before the day officially starts. This makes me comfortable knowing that I’ve checked in on everything, all is good and then can step away for the day and enjoy living in the moment!

Mini vacations don’t have to be expensive!

I don’t necessarily need to go far or plan an expensive trip to feel rested and relaxed. Getting out of your current environment and into a new one can do wonders for yourself.

When’s that last time you went to the lake, beach, mountains or other destination that’s been on your wish list?

If you are on a fixed budget (let’s be honest, aren’t we all?) try to drive to your destination or fly if you can find a great rate.

I love using Airbnb because it’s oftentimes cheaper to get an entire house for the same price as a hotel room.

I’ve used Airbnb to book cottages by the lake, internationally, in the mountains and right on the ocean. Sign up for $40 in Airbnb credit here!

Confide in a friend or loved one

Whether it’s meeting a friend for a drink, going on a walk or Skyping, it’s really important to have a support system. If you experience stress from work or in your daily life, here are seven ways to help you reduce stress and anxiety and live a healthy lifestyle.

It’s really unhealthy to keep everything bottled up inside!

It can be incredibly helpful to vent and blow off steam if you’ve had a rough week.

It’s also equally important to share your wins and other highlights from the week!

As I’ve gotten older, I have a small but strong handful of friends that I really care about.

When one of my friends has a victory or win, I celebrate with them!

When they are having a bay day, whether it’s professionally or personally, I’ve got their back.

Fortunately, my friends all have the same belief system and I know they are there when I need them.

While it wasn’t easy, I’ve also eliminated anyone that is toxic in my life.

Reduce your level of caffeine

This might just be geared towards me, but I’ve drastically reduced how much caffeine I consume each day.

I love going to coffee shops to work and can sip on an iced coffee all day long.

The amount of caffeine I was drinking every day definitely wasn’t helping with my stress and anxiety. If anything, it was magnifying it!

These days I pretty much stick to decaf, which still has small traces of caffeine in it. I can feel a difference in my body when I have a regular cup of coffee.

Coffee makes me happy though (well, mostly the creamer makes me happy) so this is the best compromise for me πŸ™‚

Write in a gratitude journal

By nature, I sometimes dwell on the negatives instead of all the positives. It’s really easy for me to get caught up in all the things I didn’t accomplish. Sometimes I’ll keep a running tab and my head and think to myself:

  • I didn’t finish that blog post
  • I didn’t send out my weekly newsletter
  • I didn’t empty the dishwasher or do laundry yet
  • I didn’t call so-and-so back

After realizing how quickly I could get caught up on the negatives, I purchased a gratitude journal.

This really helped change my perspective!

Every Sunday, I sit down for ten minutes, reflect on the week and write down five things that I’m grateful for in my life in my gratitude journal.

Now I focus on the positives and use my gratitude journal to write down things such as:

  • I got to wish my dad and grandfather a Happy Father’s Day and am fortunate to have close relationships with both of them
  • My senior dog had successful surgery and made a full recovery
  • My cousin had a healthy baby girl and I couldn’t be happier for her

This has really helped me focus on the positives instead of the negatives!

I’ve realized that it’s good to have a never ending to-do list. This means my blog and business is busy and I have work to do!

On a personal level, this just means that I’m a list maker. My to-do list is just an extension of how I stay organized. Instead of looking at my to-do list as a burden, I use it as a tool that is there to help me.

Work with a wellness coach

I work with a wellness coach every week! She’s a personal trainer as well, so I have the best of both worlds.

This is definitely one of the more expensive options, which is why it’s at the bottom of this list. If you can find a friend that can double as an accountability partner, that works too!

Each week, we get together and go on an hour walk. We talk about anything and everything.

She’s helped me focus on where I want to be on a personal level and where I want to be on a business level. We’ve worked on eliminating the negativity, self confidence issues, mental well being, goals, etc.

Final thoughts

If you’ve made it this far, thanks for reading! This year has been quite the journey for me. My quality of life has improved greatly from where I was six months ago and I really am happy!

I’ve feel really fortunate to have this blog and business and love what I do. My period of uncertainty was a great learning experience.

I’ve always been honest about sharing what works and doesn’t work on this website, and I think it’s important to share some of the low points I’ve experienced.

Overall, I know I’m on the right journey and am so grateful to be where I am!

Have you ever experienced anxiety, self-doubt or burn out? What have you done to fix things?

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43 Comments

  1. I love this post – it’s like you wrote down exactly what had been feeling! I tried taking medication multiple times but I can’t handle it. I so wish I could though! Cutting back on caffeine (sad face) and keeping a journal have helped me so much though. Also, mini vacations like camping. πŸ™‚ Sometimes I just need to get away from it all! I’m sorry that you had to go through this, but thank you for sharing it. It’s good to know we’re not alone! <3

    1. Kristin Larsen says:

      Thanks! Cutting back on the caffeine is hard, right?!

  2. I wanted to give you a virtual hug. I do not have a blog, I consider starting one everyday but I already suffer from depression and anxiety, something I have dealt with since I was 6 years old. It’s extremely difficult to talk about with people and it can be overwhelming to admit and deal with. Hugs and love to you for realizing what was going on and seeking help. That is the hardest thing to do.
    As for your naysayers, you cannot worry about them. They will always exist and they will always been there but you have to remember why you do this.
    I learned to journal a lot time ago, to have a dump of not just my current feelings but the feelings I want to feel. My health coach made a fabulous suggest for my journaling which is to do gratitude journaling. By writing down something you are grateful for everyday can really make you appreciate your life. Love to you.

    1. Kristin Larsen says:

      Thanks! The struggle is real with anxiety, I hear ya! Gratitude journaling has been such a great way to reduce stress, glad you think so too πŸ™‚

  3. This was such a great article! Thank you for writing. I feel exactly the same way at time. You totally should not feel guilty about your income. You have worked hard and earned it. Sharing you stats is super inspiring for the up and comers. Focus on all the awesome and positivity, just ignore the negative stuff. You can’t please EVERYONE.

    xoxo,
    Nicci

    1. Kristin Larsen says:

      Thanks so much Nicci, I appreciate it!!

  4. I so liked this post. Pretty unreal some of those emails you received but I guess that’s the down side of human nature. RE Facebook- I’ve unfollowed most of my Facebook friends which is a great way to remain friends but not see their stuff. It’s a good idea to close out distractions and focus on your vision. I love what you do. PS I’m really pleased for you that your dog pulled through his surgery – and thinking positively – how awesome you have the income to be able to care for him with no financial limits. One of the reasons I want to earn a full time income from my blog is to be a stay at home dog mum!

    1. Kristin Larsen says:

      I have 2 senior pups and my goal was to be home with them more πŸ™‚ The extra income has definitely helped with surgeries and emergencies as they have gotten older – the vet bills can be so outrageous!

  5. Hi Kristin,

    I love reading your blog and I’ve been for a long while but felt compelled to comment on this post.

    You shouldn’t have to feel guilty about your blogging success.

    As a blogger, I know how much work + sweat + tears go into starting a profitable blog.

    So glad you wrote this post and love how you are handling the whole thing.

    The negative reactions (the 1%), they don’t matter. It’s actually a sign of growth. Don’t be shocked the negatives still follow your blog to check how you are doing (I love those kind of problems).

    Keep going girl… Hardwork pays off and we are proud πŸ™‚

  6. I love the post its really inspiring because it felt honest and real ,
    its something that we all face but rarely talk about. Im starting a blog and the
    drive has not been a easy start but Im constantly striving. Just wanted to let you know I appreciate the post.

    -Kiara
    herperfectpeace.com

    1. Kristin Larsen says:

      Thanks Kiara! Good luck with your blog!

  7. Hi Kristin –

    Great post! Reading this made me feel so much better. I thought I was the only one who had a difficult time managing stress. I have a really hard time turning my brain off after a 9 hour work day and I find myself constantly thinking about all the things that I need to do. No matter how silly I know my thoughts are, I can’t seem to shake the anxious feeling. What I’ve found to be help is joining a couple weekly fitness classes. They distract my mind + they help me stay active. I’m inspired by your post, and I hope to try out some of these suggestions! Congrats on your success!

  8. Thank you for your authenticity, Kristin. May God bless you as you continue to make your dreams happen and bless others’ lives! πŸ™‚

  9. Thank you for throwing exercise in there as a way to manage stress. As a health educator that was always a barrier for many people. Too stressed to take the time, but once they did, it was like an Oprah moment. AHHH!

    I bet you’ve had some great ideas on those walks too. I appreciate your honesty in your journey. You have worked hard to see the success from your blog, enjoy it.

  10. Hi, Kristen!
    First, thanks for the courage and honesty with this post. In the last year, I started a private practice as a counselor, and though I love it, whoa, I totally identify with the stress you talk about!! I also identify with the ways you’ve addressed the anxiety: exercise, supportive friends and family, gratitude journaling, and laying off social media are super helpful for me too.
    Now about those hater bloggers, I would offer them the following: Don’t hate, appreciate! Don’t hate, emulate! I appreciate you and hope to emulate your perseverance. πŸ™‚

  11. Danielle Smith says:

    Wow!! I actually so appreciate the openness! It makes you even more human!! There were so many things I loved about this post!
    As a person that deals with anxiety and that mental thing really being a big issue at times, i appreciate you bringing light to it. Im learning no matter what income a person is, it doesnt take those things away, as history proves time and time again (a very sad thing to point out but true). This is one of those posts that you should be just as proud of as your first income of $60!
    I also loved that you said the first few months were the hardest as you were starting to and sticking to it. I’ve got an imposter syndrome that is beyond belief ? and i appreciate and love that you bring up the questions that come along with this. It’s so sad to know a friendship could come to that point and make your successes feel like you should be guilty of it or something! My sister and I was talking to her sons tonight about how money can change other people towards you smh and friendship is nothing that can be bought. Thank you so much for this!!! I pray peace over you

  12. Thanks for being so open about it! I think a lot of people feel anxiety, but they don’t really feel safe talking about it until someone else opens up. I used to be on medication for anxiety back in high school. It sucks, but it sounds like you’re dealing with it in a healthy way. You have everything to be proud of, Kristin.

  13. Hi Kristin, Thanks for sharing your story! The exercise tip worked very well for me. For several months, I had a person who made my life miserable. I joined a gym for like $10 a month, because I felt like I needed to do something to burn off all of the tension and stress. Worth every penny! Awesome post!

  14. Thank you for sharing your story! I have struggled with anxiety my whole life. It is nice to here how you handle it! I can’t believe people sent you mean emails. You are so sweet and don’t deserve it! I’m going to try some of your tips for anxiety! Exercise is my favorite and Lord knows, I drink WAY to much coffe! Here’s to your success!!

    1. Kristin Larsen says:

      Thanks! Haha, cutting down on the caffeine has been hard!

  15. Hi Kristin, thank you so much for sharing your journey. Your honesty and openness shows your courage and commitment to yourself and your readers. I’m learning so much from you and I’m grateful I found your blog. Take breaks and practice self-care. You are a gem! Thank you!

  16. Thank you for your honesty, and the tips for overcoming anxiety and self doubt. I definitely struggle in these areas.

    Being outside helps me greatly, so spring summer and fall are less of a problem, but winter is a tough season personally.

    Love your mini vacation tip! We have three planned for summer, and I can’t wait!

  17. Thanks for sharing not only your struggles but the fixes you found that helped you. I had a small business that failed sixteen years ago and I feel nervous in taking this step to try another business. I have some of the stress relievers in place that you are using but going to add a few of the others as I walk out developing my business.

  18. hey Kristin, It takes a lot of guts to go out on your own and make things happen. Like you said, worrying about stuff like taxes, health insurance etc. is overwhelming and people working a 9 to 5 will never understand that. As far as your blog evolving and covering other areas, I can think of 4 or 5 blogs right off the bat that started with a personal finance focus but then added areas where they developed expertise. Why wouldn’t anyone do that? I bet for all the people who write in, good or bad, there’s probably many more who don’t write but are inspired by your courage, determination and hard work. Congrats!

    1. Kristin Larsen says:

      Thanks so much Bill!

  19. Hi Kristen:

    I began following you after reading a blog post by Gina Horkey. I am very impressed by your honesty and willingness to share your feelings in such a deep way.
    I am a first-time blogger just starting out with my own website: alwaysabouthealth.com. And, one of the issues I will be targeting in future posts is how to deal/cope with stress and anxiety. I have alopecia areata and one of the biggest culprits in hair loss is stress. You have given me some great ideas to research and use in my future posts.
    On a final note, you have helped me with your suggestions about how to overcome anxiety, as well. I’m still working full-time and even though I hope to replace my day job with my side hustles, I am experiencing a great deal of doubt and insecurity. From one who can TOTALLY relate to how you have felt, I wish you the best and please continue to provide us with great blog posts in the future. Dyana πŸ™‚

    1. Kristin Larsen says:

      Glad I could help πŸ˜‰ Great idea for a blog! I’m sure there are tons of people out there who experience stress and anxiety!

  20. That was a GREAT post – thank you so much for putting it all out there. I can identify with a lot if it and I’m also trying some of the things you decided to try — yoga, gratitude journal. And I knit. And I’m also finding meditation helps.
    Thanks again.

    1. Kristin Larsen says:

      Meditation definitely helps me de-stress!

  21. Kristin,

    I’m so happy you shared your personal experience with blogging and growing your own business.

    It’s tough. I get help from my husband, but I feel bad when he’s bogged down with web development and some marketing materials and I’m stressed about my launch and sales funnels (and then my twins suffer).

    I’m happy that I do have my twins to keep me grounded and present though. Two days out of the week we watch them play soccer outside and once a week I take them to gymnastics. During the summer, I’ll take them swimming. It’s those moments that I treasure the most and it’s all because I built a business from blogging.

    Thanks so much and I’m sure your post will help many solopreneurs!

    1. Kristin Larsen says:

      Thanks Elna! It’s really important to have the right balance of work and life/being present in the moment!

  22. Oh, Kristin. Thanks so much for sharing and being so authentic. As bloggers and business owners, we need to see the not-so-pretty side. Thanks again and I’ll be praying for you.

    1. Kristin Larsen says:

      Thanks Regina!

  23. You’re right, I have made these experiences too. And what I even learn is, don’t let the stress overwhelm your.

  24. I wish I could tell you Kirsten, how much I needed this post today. Truly you are a gem and your blog is one of the most valuable I read. So funny today when your post notification came through I dropped everything and came right here. How thankful I am that I did.

    1. Kristin Larsen says:

      Yippee, thanks for reading!

  25. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and feelings! I had no idea that’s what you were going through. I just read your income report the other day and was so impressed with your progress and hard work.

    It might be a tough time just like any downs a person might have in their lives despite all the ups. Just keep doing what you love. I believe that eventually the stress will be alleviated or go away to make room for a happy you. =)

    1. Kristin Larsen says:

      Thanks so much!

  26. Thanks for being so open Kristin πŸ™‚ I know it probably wasn’t easy to write this but mental health is so important. I’ve just come to the recent realization that I have anxiety issues and I’m going to see if I can sort things out myself first before I decide if it’s better to get some help. Spending less time online has helped quite a bit though, and I really enjoy kickboxing and group fitness classes even though I’m not a super social person, haha!

    1. Kristin Larsen says:

      Thanks girl πŸ™‚ The group workouts are tough, haha.

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