Do you dread going to work every day?
Does the sound of your morning alarm clock make your body shiver? Maybe your mood changes on Monday morning?
Well, you might be experiencing work-related anxiety and stress.
A recent survey shows that almost 70% of employees are stressed at work.
Research by customer service provider alldayPA found that more than a quarter of respondents (29%) attributed the cause of their stress to feeling overwhelmed by increased workloads. By comparison, 27% said juggling work-life balance was stressful.
Accounting, banking and finance were found to be among the most stressful sectors to work in, with high levels of work-related stress most commonly reported in London, where 9% of respondents said they were always stressed, 28% stressed most of the time and 42% sometimes.
Workplace anxiety can occur in the form of performance anxiety, impostor syndrome, urgency, and generalized anxiety. And these feelings are not limited to the workplace. You may also experience work-related anxiety when working from home.
Signs and symptoms
If you suffer from anxiety at work, you might experience symptoms of litter:
- A feeling of worry, apprehension, terror or despair
- feeling trapped
- Feeling fearful or tense
- Anger and impatience
- Difficulty concentrating
- panic attacks
- Tension in your body
- sweaty palms
- stomach pain or nausea
You should also pay attention to the following:
- feeling worse in the morning
- Feeling physically ill thinking about work
- Having trouble concentrating on work tasks
- Decline in your motivation
- Avoid meetings, new projects or professional events
Burnout and secondary restlessness
Burnout can cause our body to enter a state of stress, anxiety, and depression, which makes us feel low in motivation and have difficulty sleeping. Burnout can also impact our physical health.
“The belief that our productivity determines our worth is one of the main reasons people say yes to a job they don’t have time for, or even take on an extra hustle,” says expert psychotherapist Brooke Schwartz.
“Our society values hard work and a culture of restlessness, and even considers those who take the time to rest and take care of themselves as ‘lazy’ or ‘unmotivated’.
Brooke stresses the importance of time management in order to prioritize personal well-being.
“Consider using a time blocking strategy, which involves dividing your schedule into designated time slots for specific tasks,” she says. “Having time blocks reduces the risk of procrastination, which delays work and makes it more likely that you’ll end up working after hours.”
Brooke also suggests blocking out personal time as well: “Having personal time signals programmed into your brain that you’re meant to be off the clock, and that gives you something to look forward to.”
With the rising cost of living, alldayPA also found that 30% of workers have a side hustle in their daily work. Experts warn that this causes extreme levels of burnout and increased anxiety.
“People are scrambling to make money, but they need to make sure they’re managing their time effectively to avoid burnout,” says marketing and business consultant Fab Giovanetti.
“It’s important to create work hours for your side business when possible so you don’t feel like you’re ‘always on’. Set boundaries and separate physical environments,” they say.
“Try not to work on your side, in your room or on the couch. You don’t want it to take over other areas of your life.
Fab, author of Reclaim Your Time Off, also noted a clear divide when it comes to work-related anxiety, with more women aged 25-34 experiencing higher levels of stress due to the pressure they feel to perform multiple tasks.
What can employers do?
Reuben Singh, founder and CEO of alldayPA, suggests companies can help employees with work-related stress and anxiety through regular check-ins and flexible work hours.
“In my company, we have given the management of rotations back to the staff, allowing them to work flexible hours at their convenience,” he says.
“We have increased staff pay by up to 14%, with shorter and split shifts to accommodate their life outside of work.
“Since giving them autonomy, we have seen an increase in their level of happiness and their sense of involvement.”
Mike Jones, founder of Better Happy, an employee wellness and engagement consultancy, recommends educating your managers and employees about anxiety.
“It’s good for employees to know that anxiety is a natural part of being human,” he says.
‘A little [of anxiety] is OK, but overdoing it can be unhealthy.
“Managers and leaders need to be open about their concerns to make it easier for employees to talk about theirs.
“Encourage employees to talk, give managers basic training to recognize when employees are anxious and facilitate a conversation around it.
“The key is not to be afraid of it or to try to avoid the anxiety, but to accept it and educate around it.”
Tips for dealing with work-related anxiety
- Communicate with your team – Don’t suppress or hide your feelings. If you have a trusted colleague or friend, open up to them. This will help you feel more supported and less alone.
- Ask for help – Be open with your manager and let them know if you have too much on your plate. They won’t know you’re having a hard time if you don’t tell them, and they may even be able to offer accommodations to help you.
- Take breaks – And be sure to step away from your desk.
- Stay present – ‘Worries and anxiety are about what has happened in the past or what might happen in the future,” says Ros Jones, Corporate Wellness Coach and Coach. “We can’t change what happened in the past and we can’t predict what might happen in the future. A helpful tip is to stay present and focus on what’s happening right now.
- Avoid toxic colleagues – If there are people who bring you down at work, try to avoid sitting next to them. Although you probably shouldn’t ignore them, try to limit the time you spend with them.
- Set limits and know your limits – Don’t force yourself and don’t offer to take on projects if you don’t have enough time. If possible, avoid bringing work home and make sure you don’t check your work emails outside of work hours.
- Take your time and be realistic with what you can accomplish. Work within your limits and be kind to yourself.
- Plan ahead – that way you know what to expect and can feel more in control.
- Coping Strategies – “Teach and practice simple grounding techniques at work that bring you back to the present moment, like focusing on the body or the breath,” says Mike. Grounding involves using the senses to connect with your physical surroundings. So you can listen to music, take breaks outside, watch something fun or smell essential oils.
- Bring comforting items with you – Take your favorite drinks or snacks to work.
- Reward yourself.
- Switch off after work – “Find something you enjoy doing outside of work or take up a new hobby,” Ros says. “There are countless opportunities to do something creative, like reading, writing, listening to music, learning to play a musical instrument, or volunteering in your local community. All of these activities will help boost your mood, and if you do something in a social group, your sense of belonging and connection will also increase.
- Stay in touch with your loved ones.
- Take care of your health – Try to get enough sleep, eat foods that fuel your body, and exercise.
- Go outside – A 2021 study from the University of York found that engaging in outdoor activities, such as gardening, can improve mood and reduce anxiety.
- Get a new job – Although it’s not easy and it can seem very daunting if your job is making you unbearably stressed, changing jobs could solve the problem and improve your mental health.
If things get worse, it is important to see a professional doctor.
Do you have a story to share?
Contact us by emailing MetroLifestyleTeam@Metro.co.uk.
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