For some people, work-related anxiety can take a serious toll on their career as well as their health. According to No Panic, statistics show that anxiety and depression account for one-fifth of days lost from work in Britain.
The cause of workplace anxiety isn’t necessarily because of disliking your job or your colleagues, it’s mostly triggered by pressure and the increasingly competitive career landscape we work in. We’re working longer hours, putting all of our energy into our careers and taking on overwhelming workloads in the process. Is it any wonder that we’re hyperventilating at our desks?
So what can we do to deal with anxiety in the workplace?
Identify and communicate your anxiety trigger
Perhaps it’s an overflowing workload, struggling to get through your work because of poor time management skills or answering emails out of hours. Communicate this to your manager and chances are they’ll offer advice to help you through it. At worst, they’ll at least be aware that you’re struggling to some degree and can work around that. Provided you’re explicit about your needs, respectful of other people’s schedules and workload and committed to providing quality work, your team will most likely be accommodating to your preferences.
Stifling your feelings, particularly where your job is concerned can be counterproductive. In some cases, for example, nurses or doctors working in a hospital, stress isn’t necessarily going to go away so instead adjust how you relate to the stress itself. Perhaps by practising mindfulness or accepting the anxiety exists. Treat it with curiosity. What do you notice when it appears? What are your thoughts and feeling at the time? Anxiety is a normal response to stress but by making room for it and letting it in when it appears, you’ll render it less of an interruption in future.
Take a break
Changing your pace or scenery can also help in managing workplace anxiety. Take time to check in with yourself throughout the day whether that’s three minutes of mindful breathing exercises or nipping away from your desk for a cup of tea.
I would class myself as an introvert which in turn can call for certain adjustments in my approach to working life. Being introverted isn’t directly connected to anxiety but it does have an impact on the kind of environments I work best in. By coincidence, I am an anxious person. Putting these two together means I have to listen to my body a little more in order to be my most productive. Sometimes that means working from home, something I’m fortunate to be able to enjoy within my working role. Other times it’s starting work a little earlier or factoring in a walk and fresh air into my lunch hour.
Taking time out for exercise marks a physical shift in your day which in turn sparks a mental shift, particularly when you take all of those endorphins into account. Healthy body, healthy mind.
Set micro goals to increase productivity
Goals are undoubtedly important but when struggling with anxiety, can be overwhelming which is when small, achievable goals really pay off. By breaking down bigger goals into smaller chunks you can work through, you break down that barrier of overwhelm and furthermore, reduce the pressure. You’re still achieving your goals and expanding your comfort zone but playing the long game in doing so and preserving your mental health.
Create conditions for success
Prioritise your well-being within your daily to-do list. That can mean anything from using headphones to block out noise in your office, positioning your desk near natural light or cutting down on the caffeine. Caffeine consumption increases your heart rate and physiological symptoms of anxiety which means that morning Americano, is actually working against you when managing anxiety.
Although within an office environment you will be limited in what you can control, strive to make small changes where you can.