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Living and working in a world that doesn’t slow down can be an overwhelming experience for many people especially those who struggle with anxiety.
Living and working in a world that doesn’t slow down can be an overwhelming experience for many people especially those who struggle with anxiety or who have a clinical diagnosis of an anxiety disorder such as generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) or social anxiety. The anxiety can manifest for many reasons including the mere task of going to work which can pose significant work challenges, anxiety about interacting with others, attending meetings, presenting a project or talking in a group, meeting expectations of the job, and worrying about your performance (Laguaite, 2021). In addition, anxiety can lead to self-criticism, low self-efficacy, difficulty coping, and procrastination which can turn into a vicious cycle. It can also interfere with productivity and attendance; however, there are numerous techniques that can help lessen anxiety symptoms at work, which overall can give employees a better sense of control of their inner world and external work experiences.
First, it’s important to use self-reflection to identify the causes for work anxiety.
Is this job causing you excessive and/or persistent anxiety?
Is this job a good fit for you and what you need and want?
Is the workplace culture or environment adversely affecting you and your wellbeing?
Is there anything you can do to change it?
Do you feel safe to address a concern or propose an idea for change?
The answers to these questions can help you develop some insight into your work situation, the anxiety, and can start the process for some kind of change; whether that’s learning to adapt and overcome anxiety at your current job or finding a different one that better aligns with you.
Two readily available techniques to help reduce work anxiety can include breath work and self-talk such as affirmations.
People who experience anxiety or who have a clinical diagnosis may have several contributing factors to their anxiety; however, self-criticism, anxious thinking patterns, and a tendency to hold the breath unintentionally when anxious can increase anxiety symptoms which can also manifest in the body. This often happens without the person realizing it, which is why it’s important to become self-aware of what’s triggering your anxiety about work. Heightened anxiety can interfere with your wellbeing and areas of your life including work such as meeting a deadline, completing a project, or when attempting to arrive at work in the first place. Therefore, developing a personal workday wellness plan that includes bringing conscious awareness to your breath and practicing supportive self talk and affirmations can be a game changer for many people struggling with anxiety about going to and being at work.
1. Preparing for the day the night before
2. Paring down and prioritizing your to-do-list
3. Taking micro-breaks, and taking your full lunch break
4. Taking a short walk or getting some fresh air for a few minutes can also be a perfect time to clear anxious thoughts before returning to the anxiety provoking task or situation
5. Practicing deep breaths, in through the nose and out through the mouth, while reciting positive affirmations such as, “I am safe”, “I’m okay” or “I can do this” can help ward off some of the anxiety
If your anxiety is heightened to the point where it’s causing panic attacks, it's difficult to attend work, or your performance is slipping, it may be time to seek professional help by talking to a licensed therapist or your primary care doctor. A mental health professional, such as a licensed therapist, can be a great resource. They can help you identify what’s causing the work anxiety, help you problem solve, develop a plan, counter anxious thoughts with more helpful thinking, teach you self-compassion, affirmations, and other coping mechanisms in order to relieve and better manage your anxiety. Together, you can develop a workday wellness plan by incorporating relaxation techniques, sleep hygiene, healthy eating, and exercise into your week to reduce and manage your stress levels which will aid in reducing anxiety.
Laguaite, Madeline. “Dealing with Anxiety at Work.” WebMD, 5 Apr. 2021, www.webmd.com/anxiety-panic/features/workplace-anxiety
Makenzie Pacubas, MSW, LCSW
CHE Quality Assurance Associate
Makenzie is a clinical social worker who has worked in the mental health field for over a decade and now works in clinical quality assurance with CHE Behavioral Health Services. Makenzie lives in Kansas City, Missouri with her husband, Justin, and their three pets. She likes music, singing, art, exercise, reading, getting outdoors, and trying new restaurants with her husband.