The Top Tips on How to Deal With Anxiety at Work
Most of our lives are centered around our careers. Our jobs provide money for the things we need. As a result, we often feel the pressure to outperform ourselves and succeed to the highest degree.
Naturally, this can lead to anxiety. Anxiety to perform well, get along with our co-workers, and stay in our boss’s good graces. However, while some of these stressors help drive us to become the best versions of ourselves, they can also lead to crippling anxiety.
At VP Legacies, we strive to make your workplace environment healthy by creating channels for positive Personal Connection®. Follow along as we dive into our top seven tips on how to deal with anxiety at work, where it comes from, and how it can affect you.
Related: Why Empathy in the Workplace Matters
Why Do You Get Anxious?
First, let’s talk about why you get anxiety.
For many people who suffer from social anxiety, there’s a level of nervousness that presents itself simply from being around others. However, there are a wide variety of jobs, work environments, and causes behind work-related social anxiety.
To learn how to deal with anxiety at work, you must first establish where the anxiety comes from. Here are the two most common sources.
The business arena is a dog-eat-dog world. More than 50 percent of small businesses fail within the first five years. If the company you work for isn’t better than it’s competitors, it will soon go under and you would be out of a job.
There’s a reason your boss pushes for efficient work environments and ever-improving productivity. Unfortunately, these high expectations from above can lead to overwhelming anxiety, which can have several negative side effects.
Tip #1 – Learning how to deal with anxiety at work means learning how to communicate openly with your boss. Don’t agree to improbable deadlines or take on more than you can handle. Ask for clarification if you’re confused or need more guidance.
Facing New Scenarios
Another common source of anxiety in the workplace comes from facing new and potentially “scary” scenarios at work. What if you can’t handle it? What if you somehow embarrass yourself?
In a growing and thriving business, new scenarios are inevitable. They’re also desirable. By embracing new scenarios and responsibilities, you can grow with the company, improve your skillset, and learn new things, making yourself increasingly valuable to your employers.
Tip #2 – Accept that anxiety isn’t reality; it is a limiting fear of a possible event that may never happen. The more you indulge those negative thoughts and feelings, the more you will be crippled by them and lose opportunities to build Personal Connection® with those around you. Stay conscious about the things you’re telling yourself and shape them into positive thoughts.
Related: Crisis Management for Businesses
How Anxiety Can Affect You
As we have already suggested, anxiety can be a debilitating mental disorder. Learning how to deal with anxiety at work is vital for your performance but also your sense of well-being. Failing to address your anxiety can lead to several negative outcomes, such as:
- Inability to focus
- Poor performance
- Lack of communication
- Distancing yourself from co-workers
- Nervous habits (excessive eating, chewing your fingernails, restlessness, fidgeting, etc.)
- Potential disciplinary actions
Tip #3 – Some anxiety at work is unavoidable. Learn to embrace the natural feeling of discomfort and work through it by turning your thoughts outward toward the task, rather than focusing on your anxiety.
Facing Anxiety in Different Scenarios
Let’s take a closer look at different scenarios in the workplace that may cause you anxiety. Keep in mind, once again, that some of these scenarios do entail a certain level of expected anxiety. The key is learning how to overcome debilitating or detrimental anxiety.
Daily interactions is an especially important area to focus on how to deal with anxiety at work. Soft skills are an important part of everyday life at work.
Soft skills refer to your ability to communicate and get along with others. While it may be your anxiety keeping you from speaking with others, it may be misinterpreted. Your co-workers may find you unfriendly or your boss may see you as uninvested.
Tip #4 – Educate yourself on and practice soft skills. For example, learn everyone’s name and something important about them. Say “hi” or acknowledge people in passing and avoid gossiping. You can educate yourself on soft skills by taking a look at our Personal Connection® 101 course. If you’re a manager, you can implement it as part of ongoing training.
For some people, a small meeting may pose a bigger opportunity for anxiety than larger meetings. They’re more intimate and it’s probably inevitable that the attention will fall on you at some point.
However, small meetings are vital for increasing productivity and critical thinking. It’s important that you’re fully present and involved. This is not a good time to retreat into yourself and shy away from the conversation.
If larger groups of people intimidate you, learning how to deal with anxiety at work may be vital for functioning in bigger meetings. Fortunately, in bigger meetings, you’re less likely to be in the spotlight. However, should the spotlight fall on you, you need to be able to speak and perform.
Tip #5 – Avoid obsessing over the room’s attention falling on you. Instead, focus on what the speaker is saying. This will help you stay in the moment and soften the internal monologue of negative thoughts in your head.
One-on-one scenarios, especially with executives or people with management positions, can be exceedingly difficult for people who suffer from social anxiety. In these scenarios, you have the undivided attention of the person across from you. This can be made worse if the one-on-one is with your boss.
Once again, we encourage you to direct your attention outward. Don’t get sucked into worrying about how nervous you are, how you look, what they’re thinking about you, and so on. Remember that it doesn’t have to be scary, and this is one of the best chances to really get to know someone and build Personal Connection®.
Giving a Speech
In America, people’s biggest fear is public speaking. It’s normal for you to have anxiety before speaking in front of a group of people. However, if it’s part of your job, it’s something you’ll have to learn to overcome.
Tip #6 – Focus on the facts and the issue at hand. While it may feel overwhelming to have all eyes on you, remember your purpose for being there. Focus on using neutral language (“I think, I feel”) and ask for input to keep everyone involved.
Realizing Discomfort is Normal
Finally, we spoke earlier about how certain levels of anxiety are normal, and can even be good. If there was nothing new, nothing challenging, and nothing uncertain in life, we would be a truly boring existence.
Not only is it normal for you to feel anxiety, but everyone around you feels it too. While some may be able to handle it better or in different ways, understand that you’re not alone.
Tip #7 – Practice radical acceptance that certain moments in life and at work are going to be uncomfortable. Embrace these moments for what they are – the ultimate teachers. Most of our significant growth happens through pain and discomfort.
Do You Need Help Learning How to Deal With Anxiety at Work?
If you want to advance in your career and thrive in life, learning how to deal with anxiety at work is paramount. However, depending on the severity of your anxiety, you may not be able to do it on your own, and that’s okay. We can help.
Take a look at some of our courses, like Personal Connection® 101, designed to immediately create positive changes in your life.