Everyone is more or less stressed. Whether it is related to our personal life, our work, or both, stress is an experience that everyone is brought to know one day, and that can have positive effects. However, when stress breeds anxiety, it can begin to impact a person’s daily life, including their performance at work. If left unchecked, stress and anxiety at work can have a negative impact on project delivery and social cohesion within the team.
What is stress and anxiety at work?
Stress and anxiety at work are not new reactions, but it is clear that the global pandemic and its consequences on both our personal and professional lives have accentuated stress and anxiety in many of us.
Anxiety at work can refer to anxiety caused by work stress or to an anxiety disorder that affects work. In both cases, it is more or less the same symptoms that manifest themselves. Anxiety at work is not a diagnostic anxiety disorder. However, people with generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, or other phobias are likely to experience anxiety at work.
This article aims to help you recognize the signs of stress and anxiety and to give you some tips to prevent them and act to be in control.
What are the signs of anxiety at work?
The following are signs of anxiety at work –
- Increased mood swings, irritability and emotional rollercoasters.
- Having trouble remembering and concentrating at work
- Negative Thoughts
- Losing interest and motivation in work
- Struggling to concentrate or complete tasks
- Feeling dissatisfied and disappointed with yourself
- Being unable to relax at the end of workday
- Increase time off from work
- change in eating and sleeping behavior
- Increase in headaches and muscle tension
- Feeling withdrawn from coworkers, friends and family
Equip yourself with the right tools
To truly understand how to deal with anxiety at work, we first need to look at time management, a problem that millions of people face. Our homes are filled with distractions. So, it’s easy to get distracted, fall behind in our work and slip into a vicious cycle of anxiety.
Finally, try to avoid using email too much. Our inboxes are already packed (before the pandemic, the average business user received 140 emails a day), and the volume of messages has only increased. These messages can deplete our productivity and significantly reduce the time available for more important tasks, which increases our stress at work and at home.
Take regular breaks
Another common source of anxiety at work is feelings of exhaustion. The boundaries between work and home are becoming increasingly blurred. This means that many of us work longer because we no longer have time to go home. This problem was highlighted by a recent study of UK Millennials that found that the top three causes of burnout are longer working hours (cited by 59% of respondents) and the inability to separate work from personal life (42%).
To combat this problem, we recommend that you divide your day into clear periods, with regular breaks. One strategy that might help you is the Pomodoro Technique. It divides the day into small pieces with intervals between each of them. Thus, you can channel your attention and give yourself moments of respite during the day. And be sure to finish at a specific time each day: no task is more important than your mental health.
It’s also good to take a regular vacation, even if you can’t use it to fly out in the sun. Holidays are an integral part of work-life balance and play a vital role in preventing stress at work.
Stay in touch with your peers
Do not hesitate to offer a virtual coffee break with your team or a colleague in particular. Many companies are already organizing these breaks for managing stress and anxiety at work. Even though it’s just a quick catch-up on Slack, it will help you maintain those social contacts and reduce your stress. At work, it is crucial to share our experience with our colleagues, as shared problems are usually problems reduced by half.
Also, don’t hesitate to proactively ask your boss for feedback. Employers are under enormous pressure right now, and many neglects to provide their employees with assessments and updates of progress. But if we don’t get the feedback we need, it’s easy to start worrying about our performance and whether our employer is satisfied.
“The feeling of being appreciated and important is an essential part of mental health. Feeling like you don’t count, that you’re constantly questioning your motivations, that you’re not important, that you don’t care about yourself are major negative factors in mental health. The feeling of being isolated, of not being part of things can have a real negative impact.”
It’s easy to be a prisoner of our thoughts when we work from home. Alone and without anyone to talk to, our mind can trap us in an endless cycle of negative thoughts, leading to anxiety at work and decreased well-being.
To alleviate this problem, try mindfulness and meditation exercises. They will allow you to get out of your head and back into your body. Here are some of the most popular exercises to manage stress and anxiety at work:
Deep breathing. Just practice breathing slowly for a few minutes and let all the negative thoughts fly away. This is very useful when we have a busy day and feel like we are at the end of a game of Tetris when all the blocks fall on us.
Bodyscan. Close your eyes and try to “feel” every part of your body, from the forehead to the toes. Focus your energy on that particular part of the body, and see how you feel. You’ll be surprised to find that when you really focus, you can feel what’s going on in every part of your anatomy. And that gives the mind a nice break, too.
Count the objects. Make it your mission to count all objects of a particular type in your immediate environment. How many red colours do you see? How many yellow colours? How many wooden objects? How many electronic devices? This activity may seem elementary, but it allows you to immerse yourself in the world.
Remember: Everyone has difficulties
A dangerous and common trap is to criticize ourselves too much. We expect everything to go as smoothly as in the office when in reality, we face many more challenges than usual.
If you’re struggling to focus on your work right now or don’t feel like you can adopt a good pace, accept it. If you feel like you’re taking too many breaks or not starting work at the same time each day, understand that many other people do too.
Our society is extremely competitive, and it is too easy to judge oneself against one’s peers. But right now, we are all facing the same problems, and instead of seeking individual perfection, we
should seek strength in common experience.
Thus, above mentioned strategies can be helpful in managing stress and anxiety at work.