Work anxiety

What Is Work Anxiety?

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Written by Sheza Ahmad

Bachelor of Science in Psychology

18 Aug, 2022

Everyone experiences stress at work. It's natural to feel a certain level of stress.

In fact, a healthy amount of stress is a great motivator. It allows us to be productive, attentive, and hard-working—plus, it ensures we get those deadlines in on time.

The problem isn’t experiencing stress—the problem is when it becomes so excessive that it turns into anxiety.

What is the difference between generalized anxiety and work anxiety?

How would you be able to tell the difference between workplace anxiety and generalized anxiety? After all, anxiety is a familiar feeling. According to reachout.com, 1 in 5 Australians aged 12-25 will experienced anxiety in 2021.

So if you’re already feeling anxious, it can be hard to tell if it’s generalized anxiety or anxiety caused by work.

The defining difference between generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) and work anxiety is that generalized anxiety is due to any number of reasons, while work anxiety is due to workplace issues.

If you’re still not sure how if you have work anxiety, some signs to look out for are:

  • Your anxiety lessens when you leave work.

  • You are constantly thinking about work when you are not at work.

  • You are fixated on something that happened or is happening at work.

  • You are continuously complaining about work.

  • You struggle with physical symptoms—increased heart rate, trembling feeling, muscle tension—when thinking about work.

What are the symptoms of work anxiety?

Having work anxiety can greatly impact your everyday life and can severely impact your overall wellbeing.

If you have workplace anxiety, you may experience:

  • Constant irritability

  • Having trouble sleeping or sleeping too much

  • Increased or decreased appetite

  • Continuously feeling fatigued

  • Having trouble concentrating at work and outside of work

  • Struggling to start work or procrastinating

  • Feeling overwhelmed or physically sick thinking about work

What causes work anxiety?

Many factors can cause work anxiety. There isn't one size fits all. They vary from person to person and workplace to workplace.

It could be anything from internal factors such as imposter syndrome or perfectionist attitude, or external factors such as workplace conflicts or a heavy workload.

Taking the time to write down a list of things that may be affecting you will help you narrow down the cause(s) and support you in finding solutions. Common causes of work anxiety are:

  • Excessive workload

  • Lack of training in a new role

  • Unclear expectations of the role

  • Gossip between coworkers

  • Unsupportive work environment

  • Long hours or feeling overworked in general

  • Feeling unappreciated or overlooked

What are the effects of work anxiety?

Regardless of the cause(s) of work anxiety, it can lead to short-term or long-term consequences that can severely impact your overall well-being.

For example, if you’re feeling anxious due to an excessive workload, it may disturb your sleep, appetite, mood, etc., which will inevitably impact all areas of your life.

Some signs to look out for are:

  • A drop in performance

  • Excessive missed days at work

  • Poor job productivity

  • Lack of attention to detail

  • Missed deadlines

  • Career stagnation

  • Avoiding friends or family

  • Losing interest in things outside of work

How to cope with anxiety?

1. Acknowledge your feelings

It isn’t easy to admit when you’re struggling. Most people try to power through or assume work anxiety is a normal part of life. It isn’t.

Instead of downplaying your feelings and assuming work anxiety is an inevitable part of success, try to validate your emotions.

Not only will this help make you feel better—because our emotions are signals, and acknowledging them tells our body that we are listening to what they are saying—they will help you gear up to look for solutions.

2. Communicate

If you’re feeling overwhelmed or you have too much going on, communicate that to your team. Many people will simply accept the extra workload, but it doesn’t have to be this way.

By communicating to your team that you feel overwhelmed, you can come up with solutions together. This will help you prioritize your tasks and complete your work more effectively. Having a manageable workload can make a significant difference in overall mood and well-being.

3. Organization

Finding organizational methods that work for you can do wonders. What may work for you, may not work for another person so it’s always helpful to do trial and error to learn what suits your individual needs.

If you currently feel disorganized, try a few of these techniques:

  • Organize your desk

  • Create to-do lists

  • Put your phone on aeroplane mode while getting a task done

  • Set reminders for deadlines

4. Take breaks

Rest is a key part of life. Just like your body needs rest, your mind does as well. Taking the time to slow down will help reduce anxiety and improve your well-being at work.

If needed, take a mental health day off from work. Just like you can’t be efficient when you feel physically unwell, you can’t be efficient if you feel mentally unwell.

We tend to honour our bodies and stay home when under the weather, but we don’t hold the same compassion for our minds. That shouldn’t be the case. Mind and body are interconnected and taking the time to rest, by taking a day off or taking breaks, is a very supportive way of coping with work anxiety.

If you still find yourself struggling with workplace anxiety, you can easily find help today. Talked has many therapists who specialise in work anxiety and can help you feel happy and healthier.

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Sheza Ahmad

Bachelor of Science in Psychology

Sheza has a Bachelor of Science in Psychology with Distinction and years of relevant work experience in the field of mental health. Her education, paired with her extensive work experience, feeds her passion to write about mental health.

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