Workplace Anxiety: Signs, Causes, and How to Overcome It for Better Job Performance

What Is Workplace Anxiety
Workplace Anxiety: Signs, Causes, and How to Overcome It for Better Job Performance

Today’s corporate culture is all about deadlines, targets, achievements, and goals. Such a scenario often leads to workplace anxiety, but while some stress is natural, excessive anxiety can negatively impact your mental well-being and job performance. If you find the stress overwhelming, you could suffer from an anxiety disorder, and it’s time to do something about it.

What is Workplace Anxiety?

Workplace anxiety can be extremely damaging in more ways than one. It could prevent you from accepting a promotion or even a transfer that could positively impact your career. Workplace anxiety, also known as occupational anxiety or job-related stress, is a psychological response to the demands and pressures of one’s job. One of the biggest problems with job-related stress is how it negatively affects both employees and the organization, which is why it needs to be addressed.

Signs of Workplace Anxiety

The symptoms of workplace anxiety can manifest both physically and emotionally and spill over into everyday life. These are the classic signs of work anxiety.

  • Excessive Worry: You keep pondering over workplace issues resulting in sleep disorder and stress at home.
  • Physical Symptoms: Work stress can cause headaches, stomachaches, muscle tension, rapid heartbeat, trembling, shaking, dry mouth, a lump in the throat feeling, butterflies in the stomach feeling, fatigue, feeling edgy or jittery, sweating, and panic attacks.
  • Poor Concentration: Work anxiety makes it difficult to focus on tasks, leading to poor quality of work.
  • Avoidance Behavior: Anxiousness from work stress makes people avoid work activities like certain tasks, projects, or team interactions just to escape the stress. This, again, leads to poor employee productivity.
  • Procrastination: Anxiety can contribute to procrastination as individuals delay tasks due to fear of failure, perfectionism, or feeling overwhelmed.
  • Social Isolation: Work anxiety can often result in people isolating themselves from colleagues, which impacts teamwork and collaboration. A worst-case scenario is when you might soon skip meetings for fear of having to contribute verbal input.
  • Struggling to meet deadlines: The stress creates an inability to work fast and meet deadlines

What Causes Workplace Anxiety?

There could be several reasons for workplace anxiety, and not everyone will face it permanently. The issue could stem from underlying anxiety disorders or be triggered by events and the environment. For example, a new job, insurmountable obstacles at work, or things not running smoothly. While the anxiety arising from such issues may not always lead to anxiety disorder at work, seeking therapy or help could prevent it from worsening. Here are some common factors contributing to workplace anxiety:

  • High Workload: An unusually high workload can often create immense pressure to meet deadlines and achieve desired outcomes. Some employees who feel they have no control over the deadline or workload may also suffer from work anxiety.
  • High Expectations: Too many responsibilities and work pressure can lead to expectations of phenomenal results from an employee that instead lead to the opposite outcome, anxiety.
  • Workplace Conflict: A major issue of workplace anxiety, especially when it involves the affected individual being bullied, harassed, or exploited at work.
  • Lack of Control: Work anxiety can often affect employees who cannot control the work process or decision-making. It can get worse in the case of a poor team leader or boss, whose actions might jeopardize the employees’ success in the organization. Poor infrastructural resources and a lack of managerial support can also lead to a similar result.
  • Imposter Syndrome: A valid disorder commonly affecting a perfectionist attitude where one thinks they aren’t good enough in their roles.
  • Poor Remuneration: A major cause of workplace anxiety is poor remuneration, no recognition, or no reward. It is more pronounced when the individual can’t seek employment elsewhere.

Is Your Anxiety Affecting Work Performance?

Workplace anxiety can create many problems in life and at work. From poor focus and concentration to workplace phobia, overwhelming work stress eventually takes a toll on your behavior, sabotaging your performance at work. Anxiety can also impact you in the following ways.

  • Makes you bad at working relationships
  • Hampers your chances of promotions
  • Inability to meet deadlines
  • Impacts sleep and causes burnout
  • Reduces your productivity
  • Impairs your decision-making abilities
  • You compromise on quality
  • You cease being creative and innovative
  • You become less cooperative
  • Intense fear of failure

How to Overcome Workplace Anxiety?

Workplace anxiety isn’t an incurable condition. All it needs is a change in mindset and addressing your anxiety triggers. Besides coping strategies, medication and therapy can easily help you overcome your issues.

Time Management

Poor time management often leads to being disorganized. Failing to prioritize tasks, procrastination during tasks, and spending too much time on activities results in incomplete projects, inability to meet deadlines, and no time for relaxation. Once you prioritize work and complete tasks within the time frame you’ve allotted yourself, you find more time for leisurely activities to de-stress.

Mindfulness and Coping Techniques

Practicing mindfulness will train your mind to better control the distressing ideas that lead to worry and anxiety. Stop and acknowledge your feelings when you begin having anxious thoughts, and tell yourself the feeling will disappear. You can adopt some quick coping techniques, like:

  • Going for a walk
  • Drinking a cup of green tea
  • Listen to music you like
  • Deep breathing
  • Talking to a colleague
  • Observing your environment

Work-Life Balance

It is important to establish boundaries between work and home. Attribute a certain amount of time to work to accomplish whatever is required of you. Once that is over, set aside your work and attend to your personal life. A healthy work-life balance will reduce burnout from multi-tasking, resulting in more personal me-time.

Adopt a healthier lifestyle

Adopting good habits and a healthier lifestyle by getting enough sleep, eating healthy, exercising, and avoiding alcohol and smoking. This will keep your body healthy and strengthen your mind to tackle stress effectively.

Don’t Overburden Yourself

Acknowledge your abilities and do not take on tasks and projects you don’t enough time for. Of course, showing initiative is always good at work, but it should always be about intelligent input and not overburdening yourself.

Seek Professional Help

If your workplace anxiety does not improve, you should see a therapist who will provide you with valuable coping strategies, counselling and possibly medication if needed.

Open Communication

To reduce workplace anxiety, employers should foster an environment where employees feel comfortable discussing their concerns. Employees should be assured of support when needed. A workplace counselor can be an asset to improving employee well-being, boosting performance and productivity.

Skill Development and Training

Initiating skill development and training programs can boost confidence and reduce anxiety about task performance.


Workplace anxiety might be a common issue, but it is also complex and can severely affect an employee’s well-being and performance. Understanding the root causes, identifying the triggers, and establishing a healthier working environment do much to bring both employee and employer together for the good of an organization. Prioritizing mental health, providing support, and encouraging open communication are major steps toward fostering a good work culture and well-being.