Solutions To Navigate Anxiety At Work
Anxiety at work is not uncommon, especially in today's fast-paced, cut-throat competitive corporate world. Today's article throws light on the symptoms of workplace anxiety, their effects on you, and some practical tips on how to deal with anxiety at work.
Do you feel like a puddle of anxious mess on a Sunday evening, wondering how you'll handle the stress you're going to feel the next day at work? Does your mind run in a nervous mode whenever you think about your job? If so, then you might be suffering from anxiety at work, and you are not alone.
A survey conducted by LinkedIn in 2021 showed that more than half of the employed Indian professionals, which is 55%, feel major stress at work. The top three stressors for them were:
- The fight between finding work-life balance (34%)
- Slow growth in their careers (25%)
- Not being able to make enough money (32%)
Some of the main causes of experiencing workplace anxiety are lack of job security, the inability to feel control over your work, too short a deadline, or an extremely competitive work environment.
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We spoke to Dr. Shreya Chakravarty, a Psychologist at Apollo Health City, Jubilee Hills, Hyderabad, about the symptoms of workplace anxiety, how it can affect your life, and how to deal with anxiety at work.
What Are The Symptoms Of Anxiety At Work
Different people may experience different symptoms that indicate they're dealing with anxiety at work. These signs can include but are not limited to:
- Constant worry
- Left with no interest in work
- Dreading about deadlines
- Having a tough time concentrating on work or sleeping
- Not able to eat enough or overeat
- Sweating and feeling jittery
- Worrying about performance reviews
- Shaking and trembling while working
- Always focusing more on the negatives of your job
- Overreacting to certain situations at work
- Not being able to concentrate
- Becoming irritable and short-tempered
- Missing deadlines and taking an unusual amount of leaves
- Avoiding events, meetings, and projects
- Feeling physically ill or achy at work
- Procrastinating a lot while working
Related story: Why We Procrastinate (And How To Stop)
What Are The Effects Of Workplace Anxiety
Workplace anxiety can lead to lower productivity, increased stress levels, and a greater risk of burnout. And if you have been dealing with anxiety at work for a good amount of time now, you may realise how negatively it can affect your health, work quality, and even your personal life. Here are some ways anxiety at work can affect you:
- You can see the relationship with your seniors and co-workers deteriorating
- Noticing negative effects in your relationship, where you are not able to give your partner much-needed time or make efforts
- Watching your performance and quality of work crumble
- Having little to no job satisfaction
- Feeling like your work goes unnoticed or unappreciated
- Not being able to feel confident in your skills at work
- Not taking risks which can lead to a monotonous career with no growth
- Having difficulty functioning in a team with decreased social skills
- Developing fatigue and irritability, and have difficulty in concentrating, while also noticing reduced productivity at work
How To Deal With Anxiety At Work
Apart from asking for professional help in dealing with anxiety at work, there are some interpersonal methods you can attempt to ease the anxiety you feel at your workplace. These include:
1. Set Achievable Deadlines
Most of the time, the main reason behind an employee's anxiety is the presence of strict deadlines that force them to work on tight timelines. Accepting an unachievable deadline can often happen because of your inability to say no or simply because it's impossible to reschedule the work for another day. Whatever the reason, it's always better to be honest about your working capacity than to apologise for not meeting the goals later.
Yes, not every deadline can be negotiated, but it's always better to be upfront with your working schedule than forced to work anxious, affecting the quality and pace of your work.
Related: How to Meet Deadlines Like a Pro While Avoiding Stress & Anxiety
2. Avoid Overworking
Dr. Shreya suggests inculcating healthy work habits, practising work distribution, organising work and time management. It's highly essential to know your working capacity and work within your limits to avoid the signs of burnout. Setting your limits might seem difficult, but it's not impossible. By understanding your limitations and working within them, you'll be able to reduce the amount of stress and anxiety in your workplace. Here are some tips for dealing with anxiety at work:
- Take Regular Breaks Throughout The Day: Even if it's just a short five-minute break every hour or so, this will give your mind a chance to reset and relax before tackling more difficult tasks.
- Set Realistic Goals: Any deadlines or goals you want to achieve at work should be made to fit within your time and energy limit. Focus on achievable milestones rather than aiming too high too quickly – this will help keep stress levels low while still helping you feel productive.
- Avoid Multitasking: A lot of the time, we can find ourselves dealing with anxiety at work because we often try to multitask. However, that can make you anxious since you won't be able to focus on one task at a time and keep thinking about what's going to come ahead.
- Listen To Music: For several people, listening to music can be therapeutic. In fact, a study suggested that background music can help you improve your performance in cognitive tasks. So, the next time you feel anxious at work, turn on some soothing music to focus.
3. Use Coping Strategies
Dealing with anxiety at work can come with lots of frustration regarding how to cope with it. But one of the most effective ways to handle it is by using some coping strategies. These can include:
- Meditation: Meditation is known to produce a mind-body connection that allows you to produce tranquillity and relaxation. This happens because when you meditate, your focus is on throwing away the jumbled thoughts in your mind that might be causing stress and anxiety. Although the relationship between meditation and treating anxiety is not yet explored deeply, some research says that meditation might help people deal with anxiety at work, depression, and other illnesses.
- Yoga: When you have anxiety, your body notices a decrease in neurotransmitters like norepinephrine and serotonin. Along with that, it also increases cortisol levels which might be behind the developing depression. Yoga is known to be a helping aid in overcoming or eliminating negative feelings such as fears and worries by decreasing cortisol levels and regulating anxiety symptoms. Practising yoga poses can strengthen your mind-body connection.
- Breathing: Breathing exercises might be more beneficial than you think they are. According to Harvard Business Review, our emotions are attached to our breathing, so how we breathe changes every time our emotions change. For example, when you're anxious, you'll notice your breathing is shallow, fast, short, and irregular. So, when your breathing patterns follow the emotions you're going through, your body will start feeling those emotions. Hence, changing the rhythm of breathing with breathing techniques can impact your emotions.
4. Get Rid of Office Drama
It's impossible to completely eliminate drama or the rotation of gossip in the office, but what you can do is not be a drama llama. Staying away from the toxic gossip culture in the corporate world is one excellent way to deal with anxiety at work. The more you don't participate, the less stressed you'll be. And staying away from the drama not only keeps you stress-free but also gives you the satisfaction of not lowering the workplace morale.
5. Don't Suppress Your Emotions
Experiencing anxiety at work is just a normal human reaction to the stress you can feel at your workplace. And the worst way to react to it is by suppressing your emotions. This is only going to bounce back like a spring at you with full force. Dr. Shreya suggests talking with fellow colleagues to bring out censored feelings.
One way to tame the stress and relax yourself in stressful situations to avoid developing major anxiety at work is just to accept it. Don't push the emotions away; let them come under the spotlight. You're feeling anxious because your body is telling you something, so it's better to listen to it rather than silence it.
Should You Tell Your Employer About Your Growing Anxiety at Work?
Talking about your mental health to a person you trust can never harm you, but when it comes to dealing with anxiety at work, this question can be tricky. Some people may tell their employer about it to raise awareness of the situation at the workplace, or they might want to gain access to some resources for help, while some individuals don't prefer talking about it.
But at the end of the day, it's your body, and it's going to be your choice.
Asking for Help
There's no shame in asking for help when it comes to your mental health. In fact, talking to someone, like a professional, about it can provide your mind peace and healing before it turns into something serious. So, please connect with people you trust to get to know about the available resources that can overcome your anxiety at the workplace.
Check with your employer to know whether there are in-office medical facilities available. Even your healthcare professional can help you by connecting you with a mental health professional. Along with them, you can work on dealing with anxiety at work.
Mindfulness 101:Bring calm into your day with these daily tips. Sign up here.
This article is medically reviewed by Dr. Shreya Chakravarty, Psychologist at Apollo Health City, Jubilee Hills, Hyderabad.
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