Anxiety can negatively impact every aspect of life, including your ability to perform well at work. It may cause you to worry excessively about the smallest details, making it difficult to stay on task and reach your full potential. Managing anxiety at work can be even more challenging without effective coping strategies or knowing how to recognize signs and symptoms. Keep reading to learn how to deal with anxiety at work, navigate a stressful workplace environment and improve your overall well-being in your personal and professional life.
Understanding Workplace Anxiety
Workplace anxiety involves feeling excessive or persistent worry or stress related to your job. It can include feeling anxious about your job performance, interactions with coworkers or certain job responsibilities, including leading presentations or meetings. While it’s normal to occasionally experience some work-related stress, excessive anxiety surrounding your job can negatively affect your overall health and well-being.
According to research from the Anxiety & Depression Association of America, more than half of employees report that stress and anxiety often impact their workplace performance. Three-fourths of employees also claim their workplace anxiety carries over into their personal lives. Some of the most common causes of workplace anxiety include:
- Interpersonal conflicts with coworkers
- Lack of job security
- Facing deadlines that are too short or unachievable
- Feeling like you have no control over your work
- Working in a particularly fast-paced or competitive environment
- Being assigned daily tasks that are too difficult or ambiguous
- Feeling like you lack the skills or knowledge needed to do your job
Workplace anxiety can also stem from external stressors, such as personal relationship problems, financial issues, a mental health condition or difficulty regulating emotions.
Signs and Symptoms of Anxiety
People with workplace anxiety may experience intense nervousness or unease with:
- Undergoing performance reviews
- Giving presentations
- Meeting deadlines
- Participating in meetings
- Interacting with colleagues
- Driving to work
You may also feel intense dread about going to work, think about quitting daily or get so angry and upset when thinking about work that it affects your ability to concentrate or sleep. If these worries become too intense, they may lead to other issues, such as:
- Failure to meet deadlines
- Inability to concentrate or focus
- Lost productivity
- Taking too much time off
- Interpersonal relationship issues
- Physical side effects, including nausea, headaches and dizziness
Managing Anxiety at Work
If you’re wondering how to handle anxiety at work, there are many steps you can take to relieve anxious feelings and enhance your productivity and overall well-being.
Talk to Your Manager
Not everyone feels comfortable speaking with their manager. Some may worry it will hurt their chance of future promotions or make them appear weak or unwilling to work. However, if you have a healthy relationship with a supervisor, this may be a good place to start.
Your manager may offer accommodations to help you do your job more effectively or at least reassure you that your job isn’t in jeopardy. It’s also important to remember you can’t legally be discriminated against because of your anxiety, which may make approaching your manager a bit easier.
Confide in a Coworker
Having an ally may help you feel less alone and ease some of the anxiety surrounding work. If you have a coworker you trust, confiding in them about your struggles can give you someone to turn to when the job gets too stressful or overwhelming. This coworker can help you stay on track and offer emotional support during tasks that raise stress levels, such as giving presentations or participating in meetings, making those events feel less daunting.
Work Within Your Limits
When you’re managing anxiety at work, it’s important to identify and accommodate your limits rather than push against them. For instance, if focusing on a single task produces better results and less anxiety, don’t try tackling multiple projects at once. That will only add unnecessary stress. Other steps you can take to make work feel more manageable include:
- Setting small, frequent deadlines
- Taking breaks throughout the day
- Talking to your supervisor to prioritize tasks so you know exactly what needs to get done
Practice Healthy Habits
Establishing healthy habits that relieve stress and anxiety can positively impact your overall mood. Try incorporating these habits into your workday:
- Listening to calming music
- Practicing breathing exercises
- Watching a funny video
- Taking a short break to chat with a colleague
- Going for a walk
Taking care of yourself at home can also influence your mood at work. For example, exercising regularly, eating healthy meals, getting enough sleep and maintaining a healthy work-life balance can reduce stress and anxiety.
How to Create a Supportive Work Environment
A toxic workplace where employees don’t feel appreciated or valued can also contribute to anxiety and stress. In this case, it’s the manager’s responsibility to promote healthy practices to facilitate a supportive environment where employees have access to the resources they need to succeed. Here are a few tips for fostering a supportive work environment:
- Conduct regular check-ins with employees.
- Encourage team communication and collaboration.
- Prioritize onboarding and training.
- Develop a strong, positive workplace culture.
- Facilitate opportunities for learning new skills.
- Implement activities that make employees feel valued, engaged and empowered.
- Create consistency in tasks and scheduling.
Regularly asking for employee feedback regarding working conditions can also be a valuable way to get insight into how comfortable they are with the environment. If you do request feedback, be responsive and open-minded, even if it’s negative. Making employees feel bad about expressing their honest opinions and feelings may make them feel undervalued and deter them from doing so in the future.
Seek Professional Help
If you’ve tried several techniques to manage your workplace anxiety and nothing seems to be working, it may be time to seek therapy or counseling. At Restore Mental health, we offer several options for anxiety treatment that can equip you with the skills needed to manage your mental health in a healthy way. Don’t wait to get help. Contact us today to speak with an admissions specialist and get your life back on track.