Work anxiety is a common struggle that most people experience in their working lives. And we know that since the onset of COVID-19 earlier this year, employees have been more susceptible to work-related anxieties with looming uncertainties about job security, transitioning to home working, how to return safely to offices while we continue to face the health crisis, etc.
The impacts of anxiety
As much as you may not view it as a thing at the start, work anxiety can affect you to the point of wanting to quit your job.
Which anxieties are we talking about? You may ask. Pre-COVID-19, common work-related anxieties were brought on by tight deadlines, difficult bosses, unfriendly colleagues, money worries, or pressure to produce the best work. These triggers haven’t disappeared, but have only been compounded by the stresses caused by the health crisis.
Such anxieties can affect your mental and overall health. It can also affect your relationship with workmates, family, and friends.
Other problems that may translate from work anxiety include: inability to concentrate/focus, failure to handle tasks in time, forgetfulness, and being less productive.
One or more of these problems can affect you if you usually experience work anxiety. However, we shouldn’t let that happen. You deserve to live a well-balanced life where you feel happy and healthy working.
Let’s discuss 5 effective ways you can handle anxiety at work
1. Recognize how you feel
The first step towards solving your work anxiety problem is recognising that you have a struggle you need to resolve. Work anxiety is an emotion just like any other. Listen to what it says and how it makes you feel.
Are you afraid of talking in a meeting? Are you having trouble producing quality work? Are you feeling like you’re unable to meet the normal demands of your job?
Recognise the feelings that your work anxieties make you feel then draw a solution. It may be a self-esteem issue or a lack of proper time management.
Avoiding recognising your anxiety will not help you. So first look into what might be making you feel uncomfortable and work on that.
2. Set Reasonable goals and make a list
It is easier not to get overwhelmed when you have a plan at hand. Having a set plan will significantly reduce your anxieties and make you feel in control.
Plan your daily task by setting goals on what to do during your work time from the most significant to the least significant.
Cross out each task immediately you finish managing it. This old trick seems simple, but it will surely work for you.
Bonus tip: Avoid procrastination as much as you can. Procrastinating will only leave you with less time to handle your work. The deadline will knock on the door, and you’ll not help it but feel stressed. Anxiety will come creeping in, and you’ll definitely not love the feeling.
3. Take regular breaks
Working without breaks can be very damaging. It can make you feel exhausted and less productive.
Why do we have tea breaks and lunch breaks? It’s because we need to eat and food is important. Sometimes we don’t feel hungry, but we still end up taking those breaks. And maybe we don’t ‘need’ another tea, but it’s a good reason to take a walk to your kitchen, whether at home or at the office.
What about taking breaks to stretch, meditate, and relax our mind? We rarely do those because we feel we don’t have time for that. However, those 10 minute-breaks between sessions could be what you need to make you feel less anxious at work.
In essence, regular breaks will help to reset your mind and make you pro-active.
4. Exercise regularly
Exercising should never be underestimated when it comes to relieving stress and anxiety.
You should schedule some time either in the morning or after work to exercise.
Exercising regularly will help improve your body functions, boost your confidence, maintain your mental health, and enhance your concentration levels.
Exercising will also help alleviate your stress and anxiety.
You can start with light exercises such as walking, jogging, and jumping ropes as you progress to heavier exercises.
5. Find your work balance
Establishing a balance is very important when trying to beat work anxiety.
You can find balance by defining boundaries. Let your family and colleagues know what you can and cannot do when working unless it’s an emergency.
Also, delegate work. You may feel able to handle all the work by yourself, but who are you lying to. You’ll either feel overwhelmed by the time you are halfway through or very exhausted to the point of being less productive. Therefore, allow someone to help you. And relax, knowing some tasks are handled by someone else. This will prevent any stress or anxieties from creeping in.
- When working on your tasks, avoid as much as possible taking more work than you can handle. Even after delegating tasks, ensure what you have on your plate is what you can manage.
- Have a routine. You cannot find balance if you wake up in the morning and the first thing you do while you’re still in the bed is open your work email. This will take you from zero to around 60. Work anxiety will set in and make you imagine how you’ll feel by the time you are at work.
Let your morning hours be the time you need to get ready for the day. Relax and go with the flow.
When you can’t cope with the work anxiety
We all want you to get the help you need by implementing the five tips above. However, things may get out of hand, especially if you are experiencing excessive anxiety at work.
If you have tried and failed, that is not a mark of failure or shame. Instead, consider seeking medical or therapy help from licensed doctors.
At times it may be a case of career choice or the environment in which you are working.
Take the first step
Beating work anxiety shouldn’t be hard. You already have a strategy to help you. Just take the first step. Implement what you’ve learned and commit to changing your situation.
About the author
Felister Wamaitha is a health and wellness freelance writer. She finds pleasure helping people with health and wellness concerns navigate through hardships. She writes on mental health, addiction, nutrition and self-development.