Understanding Workplace Anxiety
Workplace anxiety looks similar to generalised anxiety disorder (GAD). It is characterised by feelings of uneasiness, worry, or apprehension, particularly centred around work. While the causes of workplace anxiety vary, some common ones include constant stress about your performance at work, unhealthy/strained professional relationships, upcoming urgent deadlines, or toxic work culture.
But we are all used to dealing with some amount of stress at work, right? Then how can you understand if your workplace anxiety is getting out of hand? Checking if you exhibit any of the following symptoms can be a good start!
Symptoms of Workplace Anxiety
It is natural to have ‘bad days’ at work. Such days might be accompanied by anxiety, stress, or burnout. However, when these negative feelings persist for longer than a couple of bad days here are there or begin disrupting your personal life, you need to watch out for the following signs:
- A constant sense of apprehension, worry, or hopelessness
- Feeling trapped
- Difficulty concentrating or maintaining focus
- Panic/anxiety attacks
- Muscle tension and/or body pain
- Constant, unexplained fatigue
- Persistent feelings of burnout and unproductivity
How Can Workplace Anxiety Affect You?
The symptoms of workplace anxiety can take quite a toll on you. Effects of prolonged workplace anxiety can look like:
- Experiencing poor job performance and not being satisfied with your quality of work.
- Noticing negative effects on professional relationships.
- Having reduced job satisfaction.
- Noticing substantially reduced confidence in your technical and industrial skills
- Feeling as if you are dispensable because what you do doesn't make any difference.
- Finding it hard to set and achieve professional goals.
Steps to Combat Workplace Anxiety
Constantly telling yourself to stop being anxious when you’re feeling anxious is as good as telling yourself to stop feeling feverish even when the temperature is soaring high at 101 degrees — it simply wouldn’t work! So, what works? A few strategies to try out while facing difficult times at work are:
Acknowledge Your Feelings
First and foremost, it is important to understand that what you are feeling is real; you are not overreacting to the circumstances. People usually start perceiving workplace anxiety as their inability to be ‘tough enough’ to adjust to the toxicity of their organisation, which is completely false. In fact, when you ignore the early signs of poor work culture, you entrap yourself in the vicious cycle of burnout and over-committing. What might work better is taking a step back and addressing your feelings about work.
Set Healthy Boundaries
The ever-growing 'hustle' culture tends to blur the boundaries between your professional and personal lives. Urgent calls after work hours, uncertain timings, and inadequate vacation days - despite looking like they are contributing to the 'grind' - contribute to a toxic workplace environment. Many employees fear communicating what is bothering them, only to let the stress and pressure mount up and affect their general wellbeing.
That is why it is important to set boundaries to try and ensure you do not spend all your time thinking/worrying about work. Switch your work devices off at a set time everyday, do not bring up work conversations with family or friends, and try to make some time for practising a hobby and spending time with your loved ones. This way, you will be recharged and refreshed when you go back to work the next day!
Adopt Healthy Habits
Workplace anxiety can be triggered by lifestyle factors such as poor sleep schedules, insufficient diet, and lack of physical activity. To ensure better overall mental and physical health, you must note the following:
- Get a minimum of 7-8 hours of sleep
- Eat a balanced diet
- Take regular breaks between work
- Exercise daily for at least 30 minutes
Manage Your Time Effectively
Practising time management goes a long way in alleviating anxiety. Try using to-do lists to prioritise your tasks and allocate how much time you want to devote to each task. This would not only ensure you set aside enough time to finish each goal but also allow you to manage the anxiety of trying to meet deadlines at the last minute.
Last but not least, do not hesitate to reach out for help! It is alright if you are not comfortable sharing your problems with colleagues. However, repressing emotions can adversely affect your mental health, which is why you need to talk about your anxiety to someone willing to lend an ear. Talking to a therapist would allow you to restructure your thinking patterns and assess things from different perspectives.
Wondering how to find a therapist? Rocket Health is the one-stop solution for all your mental health struggles. Our team of experts provide you with a safe, non-judgmental space to express your concerns and offer you the help you need.
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