Workplace Anxiety

Anxiety is a natural response to stress. A certain level of anxiety helps to be alert and perform well at the workplace as well as in daily routine. When one feels extreme anxiety for more than six months and is unable to perform the acceptable level of work, it is called anxiety disorder. The excessive anxiety can make one avoid work, family get-togethers and other social situations that might trigger or worsen the person’s mental health. Having an anxiety disorder can make a major impact at the workplace. With the help of mental experts, anxiety disorders can be managed and one can perform better than before.

Anxiety disorders have negative effects on the job. Excessive worrying and overreacting at work increase difficulties at the workplace. Usually, people face trouble sleeping, fatigued, weakness or difficulties in concentration. Some people also face racing heartbeat, sweating and dry mouth in this particular problem. It reduces job performance or quality of work.

Problems created by mental disorder:

  • It creates problems in setting and meeting deadlines.
  • It creates problems in maintaining personal relationships.
  • It creates difficulties in managing staff.
  • It creates problems in making and presenting presentations.

A person with work anxiety could also be diagnosed with one of the following anxiety disorders:

  • Generalized anxiety disorder
  • Panic disorder
  • Social anxiety disorder
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Specific phobia
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder

There are four types of signs which usually help to understand mental illness at the workplace. These are: Cognitive, Emotional, Physical and Behavioural signs.

Cognitive signs: Stress and worry, memory problem, poor judgement.

Emotional signs: Depression, general unhappiness, agitation, loneliness, isolation.

Physical signs: Aches and pains, nausea and dizziness, diarrhea and constipation, chest pain and rapid heart rate.

Behavioural signs: Loss of appetite, change of sleep pattern, substance abuse, nervousness.

Causes of Workplace Anxiety: There may be several reasons of increased extreme anxiety in a person. The average survey response of the year 2009/10-2011/12 on stress, depression and anxiety at the workplace shows that 44% anxiety disorder happens due to workload, 14% due to lack of support, 13% due to violence, threats or bullying at the workplace, 8% happens because of changes in work and 21% due to other reasons.

Strategies to deal with the workplace anxiety: It is better to know how to handle excessive anxiety and live a better life with it. There are ten useful methods to overcome workplace stress.

  1. Start the day properly: Every day is a new beginning. So, plan and schedule your day well ahead. Try to do some useful exercises or meditation when you wake up in the morning. Don’t skip breakfast and have a healthy breakfast every morning. Start the day with a positive and optimistic outlook.
  2. Be clear on requirements: Always be clear about your job requirements to prevent burnout. Try to prevent any rapid and unexpected changes in the domain. Please ask for help from the co-workers or staff or supervisors, if needed and most of the time discuss plans, strategies and projects with them. Maintain a checklist of what to do.
  3. Steer clear of conflict: Avoid the personal and interpersonal conflicts at the workplace. First, listen carefully to the other’s words and then talk. Half of the challenge went away with careful listening. Make a change in your behaviour, reduce negativity and overthinking and increase positivity as much as possible. Try not to open up about personal life at work. Try to increase collaboration, understanding and friendship with the team members.
  4. Organize the workplace and personal life in a balanced way: Make to-do lists and stick to it. Try to avoid last-minute postponement of work. First, prioritize the work among the list of goals. Be self-aware and surrounded with  like-minded and hardworking people. Practice time management.
  5. Stay comfortable at your workplace: Invest in good chairs and maintain proper posture to prevent aches and pains. Change posture to sit in every 40 seconds. Create a noise-free area to improve focus and concentration. Take healthy mindful eating and take short breaks, if possible. Sometimes, take a one-minute break to refresh and relax between the work.
  6. Goal setting & Multitasking: Prioritize the work list and set a smart goal among the multitasking works. It helps get more jobs done and boosts team performance.
  7. Be a positive perfectionist: A job completed is a job done. Don’t be trapped by negative perfectionism. 50% achievement is good and 100% is excellent. Avoid the thought of becoming a perfectionist.
  8. Boost your brain and body: Avoid sugar, fried-stuff and caffeine. Poor diet always leads to poor brain health. Try to be disconnected from technology during breaks. If possible, take a walk-break, try to use stairs. Sometimes, stretch muscles in-between the work.
  9. Change thought pattern: Remember to breathe. Try to find some humour in-between works to relax your mind. Let go of negative thoughts. Always start the meeting with peace of mind. Reach before the scheduled time even after traffic jams. 
  10. Ask for help: Tell a trusted co-worker about your anxiety disorder. Educate yourself and other staff on how to handle workplace stress. Respect yourself and your job.  In case of severe problems, immediately communicate with mental health experts or contact a help centre. Stretch your hand for others to handle their intolerable anxiety disorder.

Many people try to change jobs to avoid this kind of anxiety. Many people hesitate to ask for help. It is better to seek help from experts and try to maintain a healthy work life.

Written by Shabari Sarkar

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