Signs that you are Anxious at Work and How to Combat Anxiety

The corporate journey is often compared to building an airplane while flying it. And as exciting as it can be, it can also be terrifying. As a founder, whether you’re pitching your new idea to potential investors, making expansion plans, or contemplating layoffs, you’re probably familiar with that feeling of having a hole in your stomach.

You have an immense responsibility. You don’t want to disappoint your team, clients, investors, or yourself. The crippling fear of failure may be justified.

While some anxiety can increase productivity and lead to success, too much anxiety can cause psychological and physical problems.

But with the right tools, you can go from a nervous wreck to a resilient rock star.

What is anxiety at work?

Anxiety at work is when you suffer from emotional distress due to actual or anticipated pressure related to your job. You may feel stressed, nervous, or tense about work.

Anxiety at work can be triggered by your company’s financial performance, interactions with coworkers or investors, public speaking, or feeling overwhelmed by too many tasks.

If you think you have clinical anxiety, you must seek help from a mental health professional. Acknowledging your anxiety at work is the first step in managing them.

Signs that you are anxious at work

If you suffer from anxiety at work, you may have difficulty coping with your daily goals. Getting stressed at work is normal, especially with deadlines, but too much stress can lead to problems.

Symptoms may include:

  1. Constant worry.
  2. Feeling tired and irritable all the time.
  3. Having trouble sleeping.
  4. Inability to concentrate and maintain focus.
  5. Decreased productivity at work.
  6. Health problems (for example, poor digestion, chest tightness, shortness of breath, chronic headaches).

What causes anxiety at work?

There are many causes of anxiety in the workplace, and the reasons differ from person to person.

For some, the long hours, erratic time management, and competitive, results-based environment can push them into a working model where they constantly push themselves. For others, specific situations, such as giving presentations, speaking during meetings, or leading a large project, can cause stress.

Identifying what is behind your anxiety can help you find the best solution.

Types of Anxiety

Many types of anxiety can affect you at work, but three common ones are performance anxiety, social anxiety, and imposter syndrome.

Performance anxiety: This type of anxiety can occur when you have a high-stakes project or presentation. Performance anxiety is usually short-lived and will go away after completing the task or after you get over the initial hurdle to get started. Preparation can go a long way in combating performance anxiety at work. If you’re anxious about something (interviews, speaking engagements, challenging conversations), write the script and practice. That will make you feel prepared, which will ease your anxiety.

Social anxiety: Do you get to the office early to avoid meeting your colleagues in the elevator? Have you been silent during a meeting, even when you had a question or something important to contribute? If you try hard to avoid interacting with your team, you may experience social anxiety. It’s not unusual for social anxiety to show up at work as being overly critical of your thoughts and behaviors, worrying too much about what others think of you, and feeling self-conscious. If you have difficulties with social situations or constant self-doubt, a therapist or coach can help you find coping strategies that work for you.

Imposter syndrome: Imagine that your company has just achieved unicorn status. You have reached the pinnacle of success, yet you have convinced yourself that you do not deserve it. You’re not smart enough; you haven’t been in business long enough. For whatever reason, you can’t accept that you earned the success you’ve achieved. That’s impostor syndrome. And there are many ways to override these thoughts. Talk to yourself to encourage yourself and remind yourself that you have earned that place.

How to deal with anxiety at work

Here are some tips for channeling your anxious energy in more positive ways:

Take a deep breath: This helps activate your parasympathetic nervous system, the opposite of your sympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for your flight or freeze response.

Move your body: Movement stimulates the release of feel-good chemicals like dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine in your brain. A brisk walk can do wonders to ease your anxiety at work.

Embrace an Activist Mindset: When faced with an anxiety-provoking issue at work, ask yourself, “What are some different ways I can approach this?” Knowing you have at least one way out of a stressful situation will help you be more resilient.

Seek social support: Loving relationships can help cushion the impact of stress at work. Whether it’s a co-founder, mentor, or support group, find people you can talk to about your challenges.

Find the humor: Even if you take your goals seriously, it’s important not to take life too seriously. Sometimes, laughter can be the best medicine.Practice mindfulness: Mindful activities like meditation and yoga have been shown to reduce avoidant coping behaviors, like relying on alcohol or junk food to help you through anxiety.

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