Do you find yourself feeling restless and keyed-up when driving to the office? Are you tossing and turning around at night because you’re ruminating on what you need to do tomorrow? While most of us experience some jitters when life gets stressful, work anxiety can both interfere and jeopardize your quality of life.
Moreover, this anxiety can affect all areas of the workplace. It can trickle into your relationship with your colleagues, impact your performance on the job and stunt your confidence in finding new employment.
Since we spend at least a third of our days at work, finding a sense of peace and balance is critical to our overall happiness. If you are part of the staggering 85% of people who hate their job, there are practical solutions available.
Work Anxiety Defined
While we all experience some stress when it comes to work, it’s important to distinguish between stress and anxiety. While stress can help motivate us to do a good job, anxiety can interfere with focus, motivation, and ability to carry out work duties. Common work anxieties include:
Fear of public speaking and speaking up in meetings
Fear of working with colleagues
Fear of missing deadlines
Worrying that work won’t be up to par
Fear of being judged
Fear of interacting with authority figures
Fear associated with trying for a promotion.
When these concerns are not addressed they can worsen and impede emotional wellbeing and workplace performance. Ignore them altogether and you may find yourself dealing with even bigger problems, such as missed opportunities, salary reduction, and even job loss.
Let’s get into some practical solutions for managing work anxiety.
Organize Your Day
If you’re feeling out of control and helpless with your work, it may be time to refocus your needs. Get in the habit of starting a to-do list when you first walk into the office. Write down anything that must be done by the end of the day.
You could try getting the most unpleasant of tasks done first so that the rest of the project seems more enjoyable. Work through your list until you have physically crossed off each item. This list will keep your day structured, and it will also help remind you of what genuinely matters.
Finish the list early? You can start working on tomorrow’s - but only commit to doing that once you’ve finished today’s tasks.
Ask For Help When You Need It
Many employees fear asking for help. They worry about being a burden to their boss. They associate such vulnerability with weakness. They believe they should be able to cope with anything and everything that falls in their path. Over-committing yourself to many projects might mean you simply have too much on your plate. Understand when to say no, and then find ways to delegate tasks you don’t need to do yourself.
However, if you feel like you’re drowning at work, you must speak up. If your supervisor doesn’t know you need help, they won’t know that there is a problem! And if they don’t know a problem exists, you’re left feeling overwhelmed, agitated and unsupported. And that’s not a very pleasant headspace to be stuck in.
Are you still questioning if it’s appropriate to ask for help? Consider the following cues:
You don’t properly understand how to do a particular task
You made a mistake (and aren’t sure how to fix it)
You need input or collaboration
You feel like you can’t get everything done
You overcommitted and have too much work and not enough time
If any of these apply, talk to your boss. Remember that it’s their job is to help you feel supported and encouraged at the office.
Take Breaks Throughout The Day
When you feel stressed, you are more susceptible to developing anxiety. Likewise, if you fail to identify and address the anxiety, the problem tends to worsen.
If you have the freedom to schedule your own day, make sure you plan for breaks. Your body and mind both need space to rejuvenate. Take your meals away from the computer. Enjoy a brisk, five-minute walk in the afternoon. Instead of firing off another email, walk over to your colleague’s office to ask the question in person.
The most productive people don’t necessarily work the hardest. They focus on working smarter. They know how to play up their strengths, harness their weaknesses and take time to nourish their minds and bodies.
Disconnect After Hours
Most of us don’t just clock in for forty hours a week. Even if that’s the designated schedule, more and more companies expect employees to respond to emails, phone calls and other work-related tasks after the workday is long over.
While going above-and-beyond may place you on the frontlines for a promotion, it’s of the surefire warning signs for burnout. If you value your physical and emotional health, then you need to prioritize balance.
This balance means setting boundaries with yourself and with your employer. Let people know when you are (and are not available), and stick with those guidelines. The more you bend your boundaries, the more people will likely expect from you. However, this dynamic is a breeding ground for resentment.
Honor Your Self-Worth
Unfortunately, some workplace environments are downright toxic. Maybe, you work for an employer who doesn’t value any work-life balance. Perhaps, the company doesn’t share your same moral code. You may have all the right resources and strategies for managing work anxiety, but sometimes the only real solution is to change your environment.
As an employee, you deserve inherent respect and value in the workplace. Think of your relationship with work like your relationship with people. If your time and talent are being abused, it’s time to consider other options.
Managing Work Anxiety
If you struggle with an anxiety condition, work can complicate your emotions and exacerbate your symptoms. Moreover, work anxiety can also perpetuate other types of anxiety in your life.
Therapy focused on anxiety can help you learn more about your triggers, and it can also provide you with an ideal roadmap for healthy coping.