Everyone is familiar with feeling stressed at work. Whether it’s because we have a deadline looming, an important meeting coming up or a busy period in the year – feeling stressed at work is not uncommon.
Most of this stress is manageable and doesn’t pose a significant problem to the average worker. However, when this stress is ongoing and excessive, or develops into something more serious such as diagnosed anxiety – that’s when employees can struggle.
Anxiety is the most common mental health condition in Australia. According to Beyond Blue, on average one in four people will experience anxiety at some stage in their life and, in a 12-month period, over two million Aussies experience anxiety.
In the workplace, anxiety can manifest itself in a number of ways, including:
- Loss of interest in work
- Loss of confidence in your abilities
- Trouble concentrating
Anxiety can affect performance and quality at work, as well as relationships within the workplace. On top of this, having a diagnosed anxiety disorder can make getting through the workday even harder than usual.
Here are some strategies to tackle anxiety at work:
1. Monitor your thoughts
Often, monitoring our thoughts and feelings can help us feel more in control and stop anxiety spiralling out of control. “Thought spirals” often happen when we let out emotions take over and don’t take time to rationally assess how we’re feeling or what we’re thinking.
Keeping a constant monitor on your thoughts and checking in on how you’re feeling (and why you’re feeling that way) can help stop this spiral into negativity.
2. Learn your triggers
Some things will spike our anxiety more than others. By keeping a monitor on our thoughts, we can recognise patterns and triggers that often lead to heightened stress and anxiety. From there, we can implement strategies to tackle them.
For example, if public speaking is a trigger for heightened stress or excessive anxiety, we can work to reduce it by good preparation, receiving coaching or finding ways to present information that is less stressful; such as choosing smaller conferences to start with, or utilising pre-recorded videos.
3. Communicate with those around you
This can include employers however, if you’re not comfortable speaking to management about your anxiety, try reaching out to friends or co-workers instead. It can be tempting to try and hide anxiety in the workplace but talking about it with people you trust and who will support you can often alleviate some of the stress associated with keeping it a secret.
4. Reduce other factors that may affect anxiety
This includes getting plenty of sleep, exercising regularly and eating a balanced diet. Often, disrupting these aspects of our lives can compromise our decision making and leave us more vulnerable to emotions such as anxiety.
5. Seek professional help
While a level of stress and anxiety within the workplace is normal and can be dealt with, if it gets to the point where you are unable to cope or are struggling to keep up, don’t be afraid to seek professional help.
If you are feeling anxious and feel like you need to speak to someone, reach out to Beyond Blue.