Updated: Nov 16, 2021
SIGNS, CAUSES, EFFECTS AND SOLUTIONS
If you’re a working individual, you’re probably familiar with the stress and anxiety that comes with having a job. It’s completely normal to feel stressed from time to time. But being overwhelmed at work on a regular basis might indicate that you’re experiencing work anxiety.
According to an article published by the World Economic Forum*, an estimate of 275 million people suffer from anxiety disorders. Although there isn’t an official diagnosis specifically for work anxiety, there are several signs commonly seen among people whose anxiety is impacted by work:
Difficulty falling asleep
Feeling jittery, shaking or trembling
Tiredness or fatigue
Feeling like there's a lump in your throat
A pounding/racing heart
Social and Emotional Signs
Taking an unusual amount of time off work
Overreacting to situations on the job
Focusing too much on negative aspects of their job
Struggling to concentrate or complete tasks by the deadline
Excessive or irrational worrying
Various aspects of the work environment can contribute to work anxiety. Here, we break it down into relationship and work factors:
Dealing with workplace bullying and discrimination
Maintaining relationships with co-workers
Having a demanding boss
Meeting tight deadlines
Working long hours
Lack of direction on tasks
Lack of control over the work environment
Low reward (not enough pay, benefits)
Work anxiety tends to spill over multiple aspects of your life. Here are some common effects of work anxiety that could occur both in the workplace and in your personal life.
Effects on your work
Reduced job performance and quality of work
Increased conflict with co-workers and superiors
Problems with concentration, fatigue, irritability
Turning down opportunities due to intense fears (public speaking, speaking in meetings)
Reduced job satisfaction and feeling like you’re not making a difference
Experiencing job loss or the fear of it
Effects on your personal life
Your relationship with your friends and family is negatively impacted
Feeling isolated and depressed
Developing clinical and diagnosable levels of anxiety
Your physical health is compromised (poor diet, lack of exercise and sleep)
Convincing yourself to stop being anxious is like telling yourself to sleep when you have insomnia - it just isn't that simple. Therefore, confronting anxiety requires you to take actionable steps. So, here are a few strategies to help you combat work anxiety and improve your wellbeing:
Inform your employer
We get it, speaking to your employer about your anxiety is anxiety-provoking in of itself. Although we fear that being vulnerable may risk us getting fired, there are laws to protect us from these cases. More so, many employers now are probably prepared for these situations with burnout on the rise. Hence, by speaking up, your management can address your problem by referring you to various support programs or modifying your working conditions.
Practice coping strategies
Apart from reaching out to your employer, here are some tactics you can use to manage your anxiety about work.
Have a regular wind-down routine: Ensure that you make time for yourself a few times a week. Disconnect yourself from your screen by going outdoors or engaging in hobbies you enjoy.
Connect with loved ones: Make it a priority to engage in fulfilling social events to stay connected with your community. In the office, you may have regular lunch breaks with your colleagues. Or if you’re working from home, make time for your loved ones or schedule regular video calls with friends.
Reflect and practice gratitude: Examine your work fears to distinguish which are irrational and which are real. Also, keep a journal where you note down the good things in your job and your life. These practices help shift your perspectives into a more positive light.
Make a change
If nothing you tried has given you any relief, there could be a more serious issue. Excessive and constant anxiety could also indicate that the job itself is problematic. Toxic work cultures, excessive demands and poorly matched expectations are signs that you need to make a change. Instead of always assuming the problem is you, consider changing aspects of your work that may help with your anxiety, such as:
Switching job positions and duties
Finding a healthier, more supportive workplace
Changing careers to find something better suited to your needs
Workplace anxiety can have a significant impact on your relationships, health, and your career. While it happens to everyone, it’s not something you should push aside if you experience it regularly. While our professional life is important, it’s definitely not worth sacrificing your mental health.
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