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Experiences of Workplace Anxiety

Stress and anxiety are common occurrences in the workplace, so it’s not surprising that many employees are constantly coping with the feeling of being overwhelmed.

Workplace anxiety happens when you feel stressed, overloaded, and anxious whenever you’re at work or while you’re thinking about work.

If you want to know how to deal with anxiety at work, there are several ways you can cope and minimize your stress levels. Read on to learn more about anxiety at work, how it affects you, and what you can do about it.

How Workplace Anxiety Starts and What it Feels Like

There can be many different reasons why you’re experiencing the stress of workplace anxiety. Perhaps you’re having problems with your boss or another superior, or maybe you’re coping with recent disagreements between yourself and your coworkers.

Other common ways that this type of anxiety starts is through pressure to meet deadlines, being responsible for managing other staff members, or simply by having a very heavy workload. Long, extended work hours or too much overtime are another common cause of job stress.

You might feel as if you have very little control over your work environment or that you aren’t being fairly compensated for the work that you do. If you have a lot of pressure and very little direction, this can be another reason why workplace anxiety starts.

There is usually not one major event that causes workplace anxiety. It’s often a buildup of several different factors that can start to make coming into work more difficult each day. This form of anxiety feels like you’re up against the wall when it comes to your career.

You might be hesitant to come into the office, avoid phone calls from your boss or coworkers, or have an aversion to discussing your job with others. Feelings of nervousness and just the simple feeling of being constantly overwhelmed is a common symptom that you’re coping with stress in the workplace.

Signs and Symptoms

Anxiety presents itself in many different ways, and it can affect each person differently in terms of their physical and mental symptoms. One common sign of workplace anxiety is feeling extreme and even irrational feelings of worry.

People who are anxious may have a difficult time falling asleep or staying asleep. This can create a cycle that’s bad for your health and that can also affect your work and career in a negative way.

When you’re feeling anxious, you may feel extremely jittery or you could become startled very easily. On the opposite end of the spectrum, you might feel extremely tired or experience severe fatigue throughout the day. Other physical symptoms include feeling like there’s a lump in your throat, dry mouth, sweating, and heart palpitations.

So, how do you know if you have workplace anxiety? There are several signs to be aware of, most notably when you start to take more time off work, even when you’re not sick or on vacation.

Other signs include overreacting to job-related stress, snapping at coworkers, and spending most of your time focusing on the negative aspects of your job. Constant complaining and the inability to concentrate on the task at hand are also other signs.

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How Does Workplace Anxiety Affect Your Work?

When you’re coping with anxiety in the workplace, your work itself will start to suffer. First, you may start to avoid speaking up during meetings or asking questions, even if you need to have answers to specific questions. This feeling of “clamming up” is part of feeling anxious, and in the workplace, it can have more dire consequences.

You may also be extremely fearful of rejection, which means you won’t be motivated to come up with new ideas or make new proposals. You could also avoid asking for help when you need it. When you don’t ask for help, you could end up making mistakes at work since you didn’t get the answers you needed.

Other ways that workplace anxiety can affect your career and your life is having the fear of asking for a raise. Even if your performance is getting better or you’ve been at your job for a long time, the anxiety may prevent you from discussing the possibility of a pay raise.

How Workplace Anxiety Affects Other Aspects of Your Life

Aside from your career itself, work anxiety can impact your personal life, too. You’ll probably notice that you’re starting to get the “Sunday Scaries,” which means you start to feel extremely anxious before Monday morning rolls around. That butterflies in the stomach feeling are something you’ll start to feel every Sunday when you have workplace anxiety.

Of course, stress and anxiety can have a profound impact on your physical health, too. A lack of sleep can cause you to gain weight along with a myriad of other serious health issues. Some people either eat too much or too little when they’re dealing with anxiety, resulting in weight loss or weight gain.

You might also notice that your mood is starting to shift from carefree and happy to negative and even angry at times. These mood changes can affect the people around you including your friends, spouse, and children. You could snap at the people you care about, even when you don’t mean to.

When you’re stressed and anxious, it tends to trickle down and affect the relationships in your life negatively. This negativity can spiral out of control if you don’t get your workplace anxiety under wraps so that you can be happy and communicate openly with the people you love.

How to Cope

It’s important to know that if you’re dealing with workplace anxiety, you are not alone. In fact, a 2001 study from the American Institute of Stress found that a whopping 40 percent of people blamed their jobs as the number one source of stress in their lives.

Luckily, there are some things you can do to handle the stress and reduce your anxiety levels. First, avoid doing things that are self-destructive like turning to self medication. Make sure you have someone you trust that you can talk to whenever an anxiety episode strikes.

Take time to enjoy downtime and spend your time away from work, focusing on doing the things you enjoy. Whether it’s a new hobby or a weekend getaway, having time away from the workplace is crucial to your mental health and well-being.

When you’re at work, take a lunch break away from the office or spend your lunch chatting with a favorite coworker. You can also take a brisk, brief walk around the building to get your circulation going and to get a breath of fresh air during your break.

If you’re able, ask your boss if you can move your desk to get a new view. A simple change of scenery can often bring you out of a rut and give you a new outlook on your workplace.

Try to remain focused on your life outside of work so you have something to look forward to. From a special night out with your spouse to some time with friends, these simple things will help you remain focused on the positive things in life.

Even if you hate your job, try your best to focus on the positive aspects of work. Write down something you are grateful for every single day. Developing an attitude of gratitude can do wonders for your outlook and your anxiety levels.

When all else fails, you may need to consider changing careers if your stress is not relenting. Excessive anxiety on the job can be extremely dangerous to your health if you can’t seem to get it under control. If you’re dealing with toxic work culture, high demands, or even a position that you’re just not meant for, it may be time to consider a new job.

You Are Not Alone

No matter what industry or what line of work you’re in, workplace anxiety can affect anyone at any time. Try your best to recognize the signs as soon as possible so that you can start addressing them.

Keep your focus on the positive things in life such as your family, a favorite hobby, or that vacation you’re looking forward to so you can remain calm when you’re in the workplace.

If you need help dealing with your stress or anxiety, contact us today to schedule a consultation.

Picture of Pareen Sehat MC, RCC

Pareen Sehat MC, RCC

Pareen’s career began in Behaviour Therapy, this is where she developed a passion for Cognitive Behavioural Therapy approaches. Following a Bachelor of Arts with a major in Psychology she pursued a Master of Counselling. Pareen is a Registered Clinical Counsellor (RCC) with the BC Association of Clinical Counsellors. She specializes in CBT and Lifespan Integrations approaches to anxiety and trauma. She has been published on major online publications such as - Yahoo, MSN, AskMen, PsychCentral, Best Life Online, and more.

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