Anxiety is a common emotion, it is only when it begins to impact our daily lives that it becomes an issue. In this post, we will touch on some proven ways to manage workplace anxiety and stress.
What is Anxiety and how does it negatively impact the workplace?
There are many forms of anxiety that people can experience, but at their very core, each of these variations have an underlying origin. This origin is excessive worrying. Anxiety and panic disorders can become extremely debilitating if left untreated, as symptoms will continue to worsen. A person’s anxiety over one particular situation can begin to impact other areas of their life. For example, workplace stress can impact a person’s ability to wind down, which can lead to burnout and create further negative health issues.
Other workplace-based anxieties include:
- Public speaking (hosting presentations, speaking up in meetings, trying to gather a team’s attention)
- Working with groups (worrying about whether you’ll work well together)
- Quality of work produced (fear it is not good enough)
- Deadlines (concerns about not being able to meet deadlines)
- Judgment and humiliation (concerned with how others view you, and your work, in the workplace)
- Authority figures (fear interactions, both positive and negative, with authority)
- Avoiding new tasks (can not commit to new activities, too stressful)
- Trying for a promotion (fears around being rejected)
Anxiety can lead to further emotional concerns, such as feeling irritable, depressed, and disappointed with one’s self. With such negative emotions affecting you constantly, it affects your sense of self and you begin to feel lost. The activities you used to enjoy are no longer bringing you joy, work becomes tedious, and you may find yourself turning to unhealthy coping mechanisms, such as alcohol and drugs. When exposed to stressful situations for an extended period of time, the emotional symptoms can begin to present as physical health issues.
These health issues include nausea, excessive sweating, sleeping issues, fatigue, muscle tension and headaches. Managing and overcoming workplace anxiety does not require someone to change their entire life, small subtle changes can begin to positively affect how you feel.
Our Steps to Manage Workplace Anxiety and Stress
This does not mean change your career or even change where you are working!
We are referring to the activities that you undergo while in your workplace setting. Managing workplace stress and anxiety begins by understanding what is causing these intense emotions. For example, fear of public speaking is causing your anxiety to rise as you have just been asked to host a group meeting. You need to ask yourself what it is about public speaking that is frightening you. Is it a fear of getting something wrong and messing up? Reflect on how others have made mistakes in the past while presenting, did you notice how the team has reacted to their mistakes? It is not the end of the world to make a mistake, the key to presentations is confidence. Take five minutes before the presentation to calm your breathing with meditation exercises, this will improve how to approach the presentation. Other beneficial workplace activities include:
- Not suppressing your anxiety!! (You feel this way for a reason, suppressing it will make it worse)
- Questioning your anxiety (why do you feel this way?)
- Delegate tasks (don’t force yourself to do everything, colleagues are there to work with you)
- Break down tasks (tackle a big task easier by turning it into smaller achievable goals)
- Create lists (create lists of your tasks and goals to help you keep track)
- Change of scenery (step away from your computer for five minutes)
- Mindfulness and Meditation (five minutes can make a big difference)
- Breathe!! (big, deep breaths are incredibly helpful for calming nerves)
It is important to remember that anxiety will pass! In the moment it may feel like it is going to last forever, but it won’t, and it will eventually pass!
Again, we are not suggesting you need to change your lifestyle completely!
Lifestyle behaviours can begin to negatively impact workplace productivity and satisfaction, which increases workplace anxiety and stress. To decrease this negative impact, there are some lifestyle changes that would benefit how you act and feel. You do not need to do all of these in order to live a less stressful life, being by trying one of the below activities for a set period of time (e.g. 30 days). Pick an activity you believe is achievable for you!
- Drink lots of water (the human body requires two to four litres of water daily)
- Make time for your social life (human need positive social interactions to stay healthy)
- Get enough sleep (sleep hygiene greatly improves anxiety and stress)
- Drink less coffee (coffee increases anxiety in some people)
- Mindfulness and Meditation (perfect for reducing anxiety in every aspect of life)
- Eat well (a good diet positively impacts mental health)
- Exercise (release those endorphins!)
- Downtime (schedule time for you to relax and not think about work)
- Have a healthy schedule (do not push yourself to do so much in one day)
These activities can be broken down into smaller, more achievable goals, just starting to make small changes will have great benefits for your health! If you find yourself being unable to maintain an activity for a set period of time, try another activity. You might be pushing yourself to make too big of a lifestyle change and it is not achievable, no one can change their lifestyle overnight. Take it one day at a time!
Personal Perspective Changes
The way we view ourselves, and those around us, greatly impacts how we feel, however, these feelings may be based upon unrealistic thoughts. The human brain is not always our best friend, it can tell us things that are hurtful and blatantly not true, however, we begin to believe it. Remembering this is useful when feeling anxious about workplace activities. You may feel like your co-workers are judging your performance, but they may actually be thinking about what to cook for dinner. Your thoughts are not the objective truth and you do not always need to believe them. Your emotional intelligence is going to play a key role in this. Understanding how you feel in a situation will give you the upper hand, allowing you to control your emotions other than letting them control you. Never feel ashamed to talk about your emotions, you are human and so are your emotions. Let someone know how you feel, whether that be in a professional or personal setting. If you cannot bring yourself to talk to colleagues, friends or family, do not hesitate to talk to a mental health professional. Health professionals, such as GP’s and counsellors, are confidential, and your information will not be disclosed to your workplace unless you approve. Anxiety can be extremely challenging, but with persistence, you can manage and overcome it!
If you would like to learn more about ways to Manage Workplace Anxiety and Stress, please contact our friendly staff.