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    How to Manage Your Anxiety at Work

    Anxiety disorders are the leading mental health concern across the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly 12% of adults regularly feel worried, nervous, or anxious. For some of them, their anxiety has a clear cause: it is related to their workplace. Left untreated, workplace anxiety can lead to lost productivity and long-term mental health problems. Proactive employers need to work with their employees to prevent and manage anxiety at work.

    Your Anxiety At Work

    It is normal to feel nervous or even anxious about work-related issues from time to time. A big project deadline approaching or a make-or-break client meeting can certainly increase your stress levels. However, when anxiety becomes a persistent state of mind, it is time to seek a professional diagnosis and help.

    When ongoing, excessive feelings of nervousness or anxiety become hard to manage and start to interfere with your day-to-day life, they could be a sign of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). GAD can affect adults and children at any age. The symptoms of GAD may resemble those of ADHD, depression, irritable bowel syndrome, or other mental and physical health conditions, which is why it is important to be professionally diagnosed.

    If you are feeling anxious at work, you may be experiencing signs of an anxiety disorder or suffering from workplace anxiety. Although these terms sound similar, there are crucial differences between the two. The easiest way to distinguish anxiety at work from workplace anxiety is to decide whether your symptoms are limited to work.

    Ask yourself how you feel on your days off or on vacation. Do you experience the same feelings of anxiety or not? Do your stress and anxiety levels rise at the end of a weekend or a break? If that is the case, you may be experiencing workplace anxiety.

    As anxiety levels remain high, they can become unmanageable, so much so that they leave you unable to perform your job. You may struggle to meet deadlines or deliver on projects. Employees affected by workplace anxiety often struggle to interact with their colleagues.

    At this stage, workplace anxiety may start to interfere with your work. Workplace anxiety is beginning to affect your career if you are finding it harder to meet your superiors’ demands or deliver work within timelines that were previously easy to meet.

    How to Manage Anxiety At Work

    To start dealing with workplace anxiety, it is important to understand that you are not alone. Up to four out of ten Americans feel stressed at some point during their workday. And whilst not every feeling of stress will lead to developing diagnosable workplace anxiety, repeated stress should be a warning sign.

    If you are feeling anxious more regularly, you may need to consider short-term or long-term coping strategies. Simple remedies, like taking a micro-break or stepping outside for a few minutes, can lower your stress levels. Experts also recommend grounding exercises such as holding on to a hot cup of coffee without distraction or smelling essential oils.

    Long-term strategies for dealing with workplace anxiety start with working within your limits. Try focusing on one task at a time and working with your supervisor to prioritize your tasks. Respect your lunch break and avoid spending this time at your desk. Going for a walk during your break can help you relax and recharge.

    Most employees benefit from sharing their concerns with a colleague they trust. You can also speak to your supervisor or a member of your HR team without fear of damaging your career prospects. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 protects employees from discrimination due to workplace anxiety.

    In most cases, it is possible to re-arrange workloads to a more manageable level. These accommodations are also useful for anyone with a diagnosed anxiety disorder that is not caused by work. However, if the issues persist, consider seeing a therapist to avoid long-term damage to your mental health.

    Anxiety, Burnout, and a Path Forward

    Allowing workplace anxiety to persist within an organization can lead to employee burnout and high turnover. Both may cost employers thousands of dollars every month on lost productivity alone. As an employee, if you are approaching burnout, it is important to acknowledge your difficulties to start managing your anxiety.

    Anxiety at work is common, but it is both avoidable and manageable. Addressing underlying causes and symptoms helps most employees return to work and be effective. Coping strategies are most effective if they are used consistently. Using some of them daily helps employees identify which strategies work best and how to efficiently deploy their favorite strategies.


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