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Workplace Anxiety: How to Manage When You're Totally Overwhelmed

Workplace anxiety refers to excessive work-related stress that may impact your job performance, confidence at work, and ability to connect with coworkers. Workplace anxiety often coincides with other anxiety disorders, but it's heightened when you're either at work or thinking about work.

People with workplace anxiety may struggle with procrastination, somatic issues (i.e. stomach pain, headaches), and diminished professional motivation. Every day can indeed feel like the Sunday scaries, and you might find yourself feeling a persistent sense of dread about your specific job or work tasks.

How to Effectively Manage Your Workplace Anxiety

Having some anxiety at work is completely normal. Most people, for example, feel anxious when they have a big project due or when dealing with the natural ups and downs of job stress. But if you experience chronic or severe anxiety symptoms, integrating some of the following coping strategies can help you experience more relief.

Identify Your Main Fear

Anxiety is about the possibility of what could happen, so it's important to truly reflect on what's driving your anxious feelings. Allow yourself to get into those dreaded "what-ifs." For example, maybe you have identified the following fear, "What if my boss doesn't like me?"

Then, ask yourself, Then what? Maybe then, you worry that your boss won't promote you. Or, maybe you worry about losing your job altogether. Keep going. Then what happens? Maybe you don't have a job and you financially suffer. Then what happens? At that point, you might tell yourself, "Well, I'd figure it out, and get a new job."

Doing this kind of mental exercise acts as a form of anxiety exposure. You're basically exposing yourself to your worst-case scenario, but you're also showing yourself that you can likely pull through it.

Organize Yourself Professionally

Work-related anxiety can be a response to feeling disorganized or overwhelmed by all your work-related tasks. This is where having a concrete to-do list can help you meet deadlines, complete tasks, and tackle the most important items each day.

Make sure that you have a master planner where you keep track of all assignments. Set reminders for deadlines and prioritize tasks based on urgency and importance each day.

You can also manage stress by establishing routines that support your well-being and productivity. For instance, designate certain times for tasks like checking emails or taking breaks.

Use productivity tools and software to automate your workflow when possible. If you struggle with time management, time-tracking tools can offer you valuable insights into how well you're structuring your day.

Optimize Your Work Environment

 If it's possible, try to make your work environment comfortable and soothing. Keep your workplace clean and free from clutter. Choose ergonomic furniture that promotes good posture.

Personalize your space with things that make you feel good: family photos, fidget toys, artwork, and calming oils. Try to prioritize getting plenty of natural sunlight into your office- this may boost your work performance and improve your mood.

Practice Grounding Yourself

Grounding exercises can help you move through stressful moments without feeling completely overwhelmed. They may also help mitigate panic attacks or intense rumination.

Visualize your safe place: Imagine a comforting place (real or imagined) that evokes a sense of calmness and joy. Try to imagine how all five of your senses can be activated in this specific place.

Spend two minutes breathing deeply: Even just a few deep breaths can instantly reduce anxiety and improve your mental well-being. Set a timer for two minutes. During that time, inhale as deeply as possible (count to four or five) and then exhale as deeply as possible.

Internally recite a calming affirmation: Choose a positive affirmation like, I will get through this, or, I can cope with my work anxiety, to help soothe your immediate stress response. Consider writing this affirmation down to refer to when you feel anxious.

Reconsider Your Work Environment

Sometimes work anxiety is directly related to a toxic workplace culture. It makes sense to experience chronic stress if you feel exploited, overworked, under-compensated, or regularly asked to engage in tasks that are outside of your scope of competence.

If work continues impacting your mental health, it may be time to reevaluate your job itself. if you're feeling ambivalent about what to do, consider reviewing the pros and cons with a mental health professional. Remember that no job is worth completely hijacking your stress levels.

Professional Support for Work Anxiety and Anxiety Disorders in Orange County, California

At Resurface Group, we understand how challenging it can be to live with an anxiety disorder. We treat the many emotional and physical symptoms associated with stress and anxiety, and we can help you cope better in your daily life.

If your mental health symptoms are affecting your professional life or exacerbating work stress, we are here to help. We partner with individuals and families to promote long-term change. Our life-based care systems model allows clients to integrate practical skills into managing everyday life stressors.

Contact us today to learn more about our unique programs.

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