Anxious at Work? 3 Ways to Cope
Most of us spend a major part of our life “at work.” It could be on-site, work-from-home, or doing off-hours thinking and/or planning related to your job. Now, consider this: Many, if not most people are unhappy and unsatisfied with their job. Meanwhile, some 30 percent of adults struggle with anxiety at some point. This is a recipe for trouble.
Work anxiety is not uncommon and is not something to take lightly. It can have you counting the minutes until your workday is over. It can have you dreading a return to work the next day. But it doesn’t have to be this way.
What Makes You Anxious at Work?
Obviously, the sources of work anxiety can be varied and very unique for each person. That said, there are some universal threads to ponder, e.g.
- Workplace social life, drama, conflict, etc.
- Job-related pressures
- Giving presentations and speaking up in meetings
- Workplace hierarchy
Plus, of course, you would probably much rather be someplace else. Translation: There are plenty of reasons to be stressed on the job.
Some Basics For Reducing Work Anxiety
- Practice Healthy Habits: Basic self-care will reinforce your resilience. For example, safeguard your sleep, exercise, and eating habits.
- Stay Organized: An organized workplace can reduce the chances of feeling panicked. Plan ahead and keep yourself prepared. Develop solid time management skills.
- Avoid Drama: You do not have to participate in gossip or get involved with co-workers who seem determined to stir things up.
- Take Breaks: Work within your schedule to maximize time for recharging your batteries.
- Set Boundaries: Prioritize your personal life. For example, you don’t have to answer work emails or voicemails during non-work time.
- Celebrate When Appropriate: When you’re part of a job well-done, always take a little time to be grateful. Appreciate the accomplishment and thank whoever else was involved.
3 Fundamental Ways to Cope With Anxiety at Work
1. Understand, Accept, Self-Educate, Be Pro-Active
It can a long way toward relief if you learn as much as you can about anxiety. You’ll be better positioned to accept the situation and comprehend what needs to be done. Yes, there’s still a stigma around mental health issues but that is changing. Understanding more about anxiety disorders can help you feel self-compassion.
2. Resist the Worst-Case Scenario
We are expected to perform — and perform well — on the job. This added pressure can lead to people fearing the worst. What if anxiety causes me to mess up? Will I get fired? How will I survive with this income? Anxiety creates spirals like this. The irony is that anxiety spirals only serve to increase anxiety. Refer back to #1 above. The more you educate yourself, the less you will spiral. This includes learning about labor laws that protect people with mental health diagnoses
When you feel overwhelmed or overworked, talk to a supervisor. They may not always recognize who is having a hard time. Also, it can be immensely helpful to confide in a trusted co-worker. You can look out for each other and lend a hand when necessary. The key is to speak up for yourself. Everyone is struggling in their own way. You are not alone.
Therapy for Anxiety
Since anxiety is a diagnosable disorder, it makes sense to talk with a professional. Your self-help steps are essential but recovery will require support from someone who is trained to guide you. Working with a therapist is a proven path for managing anxiety at work — and in all settings.