In this article, we discuss seven ways to manage anxiety about work. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America conducted a survey that showed over 50% of working Americans experienced high levels of stress and anxiety at the job. A Gallup poll showed similar results, with 55% of Americans experiencing workplace stress. According to the American Institute of Stress, close to one million people miss workdays due to stress and anxiety.
What does workplace anxiety look like?
So now we know that the majority of people experience workplace stress. So what happens when you have work-related anxiety? How will you know if you, or a coworker, is overly stressed at your job? Here are some signs that suggest excessive workplace anxiety:
- Reluctance to take on any new tasks
- Less tolerance for workplace feedback
- Fear of not performing to standards
- Loss of interest in work
- Disproportionate reaction to work stress
- Taking more time off work than usual
- Difficulty focusing on tasks
Anxiety disrupts concentration. It pulls your thoughts out of the present and into the uncertainties of the future. This is often the first sign of uncontrolled anxiety, and without intervention, it can be highly disruptive to your ability to complete your normal work.
When are you likely to experience work-related anxiety?
Even normal work situations can produce anxiety, but some scenarios are more likely to be nerve-racking than others. Many people feel anxiety when they fear they are going to get fired. This feeling can persist even if there is no logical basis for it. Other anxiety-provoking situations at work include when deadlines approach, before work meetings, around presentations, when called to meet a superior, or, when you sense anxiety or stress in others.
Where does work anxiety have the most impact?
Work anxiety can manifest in strained relationships with your coworkers. It can also create friction in relationships with friends or family and can be detrimental to your own self-image.
Why do we get workplace anxiety?
Few environments challenge our sense of place, belonging and ability like work does. Our jobs are often tied to our sense of who we are and what we are worth. Accordingly, work can create high-pressure situations and can be a major source of stress.
What are the 7 Ways to Manage Anxiety About Work
Here are seven ways that experts recommend to help control anxiety on the job:
1. Set limits
To the extent that it’s possible, you will need to set limits on your level of availability, energy, and time for work, and communicate these limits to your coworkers. It’s an important step to establishing a balance between competing priorities of your work and personal life. All work without play is a sure way to burn out. Finding a work-life balance that feels appropriate for you and supports your work team can help manage anxiety and increase efficiency at your job.
2. Talk with a professional
If you are feeling stuck in anxiety, it can be helpful to talk with a mental health professional, who would often help you determine the root of your anxiety and work with you to find effective strategies to manage it.
3. Ask for help
If you are feeling overwhelmed, ask a coworker for help. Later you can return the favor. Try to keep your requests as simple and as specific as you can.
4. Plan and prepare
Aim for an early start date on major projects. Set milestones for yourself. Try to anticipate problems and find solutions for them before they become unmanageable. When you’ve developed a feel for anticipating problems, see what you can do to prevent them.
5. Practice time management
Research shows that to-do lists are some of the best tools to help reduce and control anxiety. These lists give you a practical, helpful way to prioritize your work if you feel overwhelmed or immobilized by responsibility. Be sure to schedule enough time to complete each task or project, and avoid the trap of “over-promising and under-delivering.”
6. Celebrate your successes
Take a moment to celebrate yourself and your good work before moving on to the next project, and be sure to thank everyone who helped you.
When you’re struggling at work, your instinct might be to “tough it out,” but if you’re reaching a limit to your work capacity, let your supervisor and coworkers know. Speak up calmly and diplomatically if you have too much to handle. Your supervisor may not realize you’re overextended.
Work anxiety can occasion a big impact on your daily life and wellbeing. It doesn’t have to be all-consuming. Use different strategies to help you manage your anxiety and you will go a long way in reducing its impact on your mind and body.
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