work anxiety How to Manage it

Work Anxiety -What is it & How Do You Manage it?

If you suffer from work anxiety then you are not alone. In the UK alone last year it is estimated that 15.4 million days were lost to people taking time off due to work-related stress. Yet the reasons for the problem are varied which means identifying your particular stressor is important if you want to resolve your particular issue. Here are some of the most popular reasons for workplace anxiety and what you can do to resolve them.

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Workplace Anxiety and Stress

The number one cause of work anxiety is stress and here are some of the typical problems you may find in your workplace.

  • Tight Deadlines
  • Long Hours
  • Low Pay
  • Large Workload
  • Not Enough Breaks
  • Being Constantly Undermined
  • Being Monitored too Closely for Efficiency
  • Not being in Control
  • Being Forced to Work Odd Hours or Overtime
  • Not Having the Right Skills or Training

As you can see the list is long and varied. Any worker is likely to encounter some of these problems during their career but the real issue starts when the stress is sustained and unrelenting.

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In these cases of stress there are are a few directions which you can take. Telling your employer about the work anxiety can be important as in many cases they may not even realise that there is a problem at all. Sharing the problem may make a difference as your employer has the power to change your role or reduce your workload.

For mild stressors, you can also take matters into your own hands by:

  • Taking a break to clear your head
  • Making sure you have time to unwind at home
  • Leaving the workplace early at least twice a week
  • Doing some exercise
  • Using our recommended self-care anxiety gifts to help.
  • Finding time for fun when you are not at work.
  • Listening to a stress reduction audio such as our Guided Relaxation Download

If however, the problem at work is extreme then looking for an alternative job should be an option you want on the table. This is important if you feel that your company has no intention of changing bad work practices. Why stay somewhere where you are underappreciated and worked to the point of exhaustion. Remember there is always something else out there for you to do.

Social Anxiety at Work

Issues relating to stress at work are not always, of course, related to the company that you work at. Some people suffer from social anxiety at work which means they have a fear of being judged by others or embarrassing themselves in front of people. If this is your anxiety then mixing with your colleagues and managers may feel like a daily nightmare as you constantly worry about doing something wrong.

It is not unusual for people with social anxiety to shun certain jobs and careers because of their inability to mix well with others. Yet this is never really the answer as no matter what job you have there will always be an interaction with others. So for example, if I decide to become a self-employed graphic designer to avoid a workplace I will still have to sell my services to others and have my work scrutinised.

If you suffer from social anxiety then your number one solution should be seeking therapy to change those unhelpful thoughts. For the most part, these are set up in childhood due to criticism or incidents that upset or embarrassed you. As a child, you were not able to cope with the issue so your solution was to avoid it. A social anxiety therapist can help you to address negative thinking and change the way you act moving forward.

Fear of Failure at Work

Work anxiety can also be created by a deep-rooted fear of failure. I regularly see clients who feel that if they are not giving 110% all the time they are going to fail. So they work much longer hours, take work home with them, micromanage staff and are perfectionists with whatever they produce. Yet no matter how well they do or how far they progress up the career ladder they still feel they may fail at any moment.

It is a form of imposter syndrome. The fear that they are going to be unmasked as an employee who is not up to the job in hand. In cases such as these, I often trace the feelings back to a when they started. It is not unusual for the worries to have started when they were relatively young and something didn’t go right for them. The consequences of this at the time would have very problematic and from that point on the person was doing everything they could do prevent a similar situation.

Therapy for a fear of failure helps you to recognise that things do go wrong especially when you are young. This is how we learn and improve. When we are older we will still make mistakes but now we have better coping strategies and methods of resolving what went wrong. Remember nobody gets it right all the time no matter how successful they may seem.

Bullying and Work Anxiety

Bullying as a reason for work anxiety is sadly commonplace in some companies. This doesn’t have to be physical assaults (although this can happen) but daily psychological undermining and criticism. When this is carried out day after day it can have a profound impact on your health and wellbeing.

If you need help with bullying start by talking to your manager, human resources personnel or even your trade union representative. Most large companies should have protocols such as grievance procedures in place to prevent reoccurrence.

When you feel this will not resolve the problem look to move elsewhere. You never need to feel trapped by situations such as these. Learn to take back control by choosing to remove yourself from the situation as soon as possible. Don’t wait because sustained bullying behaviour undermines your confidence and self-esteem making it hard for you to go elsewhere further down the line.

Work Anxiety & Fear of Change

Finally, it is important to discuss how a fear of change can create stress and anxiety in the workplace. Imagine you have been working as an employee in a company for twenty years and suddenly the firm is taken over. Your immediate managers are replaced and the company decides that all the current procedures, computer systems and methods of working need updating to make the company more efficient. For someone who has cherished the status quo, this upheaval can have a big impact on stress levels.

Remember just because you have been doing something in one way for many years doesn’t mean you have lost the capacity to learn. You can stop these feelings of stress by:

  • Telling yourself you enjoy learning new skills
  • Making sure you communicate with your managers about any concerns
  • Insisting on extra training if it is required
  • Talking to your work colleagues and ask for their help
  • Maintaining a positive attitude
  • Being flexible you never know where this change could lead you to
  • Practice the stress reduction methods discussed earlier

Anxiety about going to Work

Work anxiety is something that most employees will suffer from at some point in their career but with the right strategies and help it is possible to overcome it. Our online anxiety reduction program can help as it gives you tools and strategies to lower feelings of stress, anxiety and panic.

Meanwhile, our anxiety tracker printables can help you to pinpoint when and why your anxiety is happening if you are experiencing difficulty trying to understand where your problems are coming from. You can purchase the 8 worksheets in our online store.

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If you need additional help to take back control of your worries and fears simply fill out the contact form below. I’ll be happy to talk to you about my one to one anxiety reduction coaching program which can help you change the way you feel.

You may also want to read:

10 Gifts for People With Anxiety

Alcohol and Anxiety

Weighted Blanket for Anxiety

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Martina McKeough
Work anxiety - what is it and how to manage it
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Work anxiety - what is it and how to manage it
Discover the different forms of work anxiety and learn how to manage your worries in about the workplace
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Rewire the Mind
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