Work is the most essential part of human life. In this era, for many working professionals, workplaces have become second home. Interestingly, homes are supposed to be one’s space of comfort. For many professionals’ workspaces are their areas of comfort, but unfortunately there are many professionals for whom work spaces are equivalent to scary places. Those who don’t find sense of comfort and belonging in their work environments tend to experience ‘workplace anxiety’. In my work, I get to speak to brilliant people who were full of zeal at one point but due to toxic workplace environments, their zeal has been overtaken by constant worry & stress.
In this blog we will talk about:
- What is workplace anxiety?
- What causes it?
- How to overcome it?
Workplace anxiety is referred to specific form of anxiety that one experiences only in context of their workplace. Watch out for these signs:
- Do you find yourself trying to avoid team meetings?
- Does the idea of having to attend team meeting induces sense of discomfort?
- Are you worried about making mistakes or saying something wrong?
- Do you review your emails many times to avoid messing up?
- Does your upcoming performance evaluation scare you?
- Does the thought of being in the same room as your manager induces sense of fear?
- Do you find yourself overthinking about having to go to work next day?
- Do you find it emotionally & physically exhausting to get to work?
If you, have answered YES to above questions, then you might be experiencing workplace anxiety.
Why does anyone experience anxiety related to workplace?
Constant sense of being judged:
It isn’t a great feeling when you’re constantly under scrutiny at your workplace. Knowing that you’re constantly being watched in terms of your work, your interactions, your mannerisms etc, impacts you adversely.
It brings down your confidence, impacts your work productivity, and puts your emotional & mental health at stake, which eventually turns into anxiety.
Fear of exclusion:
We are social beings, no matter where we are we want to have healthy interactions with others. Just like any other spaces, we humans tend to create groups at work too. However, when someone feels excluded from a group, it tends to impact their self-esteem, confidence, & productivity at work.
Toxic & oppressive work environments:
It’s sad, but true, that some workplaces are made toxic by insecure individuals present in environment. They enjoy oppressing others in order to boost their false ego. Those being oppressed feel highly anxious when having to go to their workplace.
How to overcome workplace anxiety?
- Enhance your self-esteem:
When our self-esteem is low, we are high on self-doubt. We tend to easily internalize any comments from our colleagues or managers. This tends to make us vulnerable at our workplace. Elevating your self-esteem requires active work on your communication skills, your mindset, vocabulary, and emotional regulation.
- Mantra, ‘work is just work’:
Many times, we convince ourselves that, at my workplace have to build new relationships. As long as those relationships are ‘professional networks’, it’s fine. If they start turning into friendships, or personal relationships, that’s when the messiness begins to trickle in. Keep your personal out of professional, and you will be fine.
- Ensure work life balance:
I often hear from clients that in corporate world it’s impossible to strike balance. I tell them, “That’s how you have conditioned yourself to believe”. Remember striking the balance is your responsibility not your boss’s. You go to figure out ways to be productive at work, so that you don’t carry work with you at home. Also work life balance has gown the drain since COVID-19. Working from home, has brought the mindset, that ‘I can work at anytime’. Don’t do that, work during work hours, not during family hours.
- Practice mindfulness:
When you have been exposed to anxiety then your mind keeps you engaged in ‘rumination about the past and worry about the future’. Your goal is, to stay present in the present. Catch your mind as it attempts to get you to engage in overthinking and creating, ‘what if’ scenario. It’s easier to stop, than to break the spiral once it begins.
- Breath work:
Practicing deep breathing on regular basis will help you set your mind & body to use deep breathing as a coping strategy as soon ad you start feeling anxious at work.
- Water therapy:
Water is natural element. Use water generously to soothe your anxiety. Drink water, place your hands under running cold water, splash your face with water, or hold ice cubes. Do whatever is best for you and works for you.
- Talk it out:
When work pressure begins to build, catch it soon. Don’t try to push it down, talk about it to a trusted friend or family member. Talking about it, will help you release tension and bring you different perspectives to look at the problem.
- Upgrade yourself:
Wherever you are in your career, make sure you keep enhancing your knowledge and skills. In today’s constantly changing technology, learning new things isn’t challenging. If you keep working on your personal and professional self, you’ll feel more confident and less vulnerable to being bullied or oppressed by colleagues or managers.
When you recognize the first sign of anxiety related to work, that seems to be impacting your quality of life, speak up. It is crucial for you to communicate what’s happening. If you feel you don’t know how to express yourself or have difficult conversations, then learn how to do it. It’s not a rocket science, all you need is to learn and practice. When you have effective communication skills, you are much in control of your emotions and less vulnerable to anxiety.
Give yourself regular reminders about taking care of yourself very well, so that anxiety doesn’t become more powerful than you.
Clinical Supervisor & Registered Psychotherapist
Talk Heals Psychotherapy