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How to Deal with Anxiety at Work

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Workplace Anxiety

A high number of workers report experiencing moderate to high anxiety levels on the job. Actually, in 2018 over 68% of Americans were struggling with anxiety.

Navigating the workplace is difficult particularly for individuals struggling with anxiety. This alongside other co-occurring depression can be debilitating.

Feeling nervous before a pitch opportunity, a big presentation, or a performance review meeting with your boss is acceptable. It’s a natural reaction and is expected.

However, feeling anxious every time you step into the office is another thing. Could there be something in the office that constantly trigger it? Could you be struggling with an anxiety disorder?

Evaluating whether your current job is the right one for you can be helpful. But if that is not a viable option at the moment, then you can research how to deal with anxiety at work. Reviewing such material will help to calm your body and mind so that you can perform well.

Here are some ways of managing your anxiety at the workplace.

How Can I Calm My Anxiety at Work?

Work anxiety can throw you off balance. It can also leave you feeling exhausted and can lower the quality of your life.

Aside from affecting the quality of your work and performance at work, it can interfere with your relationship with your colleagues, supervisors and friends. The challenge can even be worse when diagnosed with anxiety disorder.

The following interpersonal strategies can help you calm your anxiety while at the office. They can help you remain focused and productive.

Avoid Office Triangles

Triangling is a practice where a person bonds with another by gossiping about a third person. Actually, some workplaces have such a culture because they view it as a source of entertainment or offers temporary relief.

Gossiping about coworkers is a kind of negativity. Venting on them can escalate to a conflict. However, keeping the issues between yourselves and working towards resolving them can minimize anxiety.

Clearly, an open and honest work environment is an antidote to workplace anxiety and stress.

Use Neutral  Language

A calm language can bring down people’s anxiety at the office. Quarrelling ceases when colleagues use neutral language. Such a language makes them feel part and parcel of the solution.

Consider inviting your colleague whom you’re in disagreement with to offer a suggestion on how things should be handled better in the future. Taking such a route can be calming and can prevent disagreements from cropping up now and then.

Get Some Fresh Air

Walking away from the environment that triggers anxiety is helpful. Take a walk around the block to lower your heart rate and bring a new stream of thoughts.

Strolling in a green area gives you a moment with nature, can clear your thoughts and stabilize your feelings. This is essential after an argument, before a presentation or meeting with your supervisor. In fact, it can help you rehearse your speech or presentation away from the office.

Listen to Music

Tune to songs that induce happy feelings and remind you of your positive moments. Music has the power to calm both the mind and the body.

You can even listen to music while working in the office because even a few minutes of it can calm you.

Why Does Work Give Me So Much Anxiety?

It’s possible to get anxious due to some aspects of your job. Struggling with tight deadlines, meeting your supervisor’s expectations, dealing with office politics or striving to attain work/life balance can cause anxiety.

While this might seem like a normal life for every employee, evaluating the job can be the only solution. This is true especially when you’re not passionate about your job. Even so, resigning or changing jobs might not be always easy. So then, you can consider other ways of dealing with the anxiety-inducing workplace.

Understand the Cause of Your Anxiety

Finding out what triggers the symptoms of anxiety or what creates the anxious feelings is the first step towards improving your situation.

At times the source can be something that you can’t change such as the amount of work that your role demands. Knowing the cause of your anxiety can help you find the next steps that you can take.

Share Your Feelings

Workplace Anxiety Talking to Friends

Talking to a trusted coworker or supervisor about your anxiety can help relieve it. In fact, talking about your situation with the right person can help you cope and continue performing as expected.

A supportive supervisor might offer to move you to another unit or department where you can perform better. A colleague can help you process the intense emotions and find ways of dealing with anxiety. For instance, a coworker can help you create a to-do list that can help you prioritize short tasks, urgent tasks and so on.

Take Time Off

Taking regular breaks from work is a good remedy whenever you feel anxious. Some time off allows you to disconnect and build resilience.

Still, a break can help you reflect and in the end, you will be grateful that you have a job, a good team and a supportive supervisor. These are things that you can notice when you feel disturbed or anxious.

Practice Self-care

Take care of yourself through good nutrition, adequate sleep, and exercise. Such healthy lifestyle practices are key to well-being, healthy anxiety management and building resilience.

Can You Get Fired for Having Anxiety at Work?

It’s hard to deal with anxiety on your own. This is particularly so when handling a heavy workload, preparing for a big presentation or interviewing for a new job.

The thought of getting fired due to your constant anxiety attacks at the workplace can be what is actually triggering it. The good news is that you can’t get fired for having anxiety at work. But in case you’re fired, the law is on your side.

Indeed, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protect employees against job discrimination. That means that your employer is mandated by law to retain you when you disclose that you have a lasting physical or mental impairment. Further, the company is required by this federal law to provide you with reasonable accommodation because anxiety can alter the way you think or your concentration levels. So in most cases, the condition is covered as a disability.

Can I Call in Sick with Anxiety?

Full-time employees benefit from paid time off whenever they’re sick. Recently, mental health days have been added to the lists of the reasons a worker can take a sick day off.

Before mental health conversations, it was even not allowed or was difficult to call off work because you’re anxious. However, you can do it now because anxiety can be worrying just like any other ailment.

Further, your workplace can be the actual cause of your anxiety which you demonstrate in multiple ways including tiredness, sweating, trouble sleeping, trembling, difficulty concentrating, gastrointestinal problems and more. Experiencing any or a few of these symptoms can impact your wellness and work as a whole.

Therefore, feeling too depressed or too anxious to go to the office is one of the reasons why you can take a day off.

Since anxiety or depression leave from work can take multiple days off, it can beneficial to review your company’s policies around sick leave. Surprisingly you might discover that you qualify for the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

Eligible employees can take up to 12 weeks as unpaid leave per year. This offers them health benefits and still protects their job status.

Further, an eligible worker can have unpaid leave during certain events such as the birth of their child, placement of a child for adoption or foster care, and caregiving when their immediate family member faces a serious health condition. Still, they can take medical leave if they are unable to work due to a serious health condition.

So call your boss or email them and be honest about your condition. Also, taking advantage of the mental health day is important.

How Do I Tell My Boss I’m Struggling with Anxiety?

The decision to tell your employer about your mental health can be difficult. But can you tell who else in your workplace is struggling with mental health like you’re? You will probably not identify one by looking at them.

The reason is that in most instances there may be no external signal showing that they are struggling. However, the numbers might be higher than you expected. So then, the only way of knowing about it is by talking to each other.

As much as many people want to keep their mental health private and pretend that everything is okay even when it’s not is risky. Talking about your condition with the right person is not a sign of weakness instead it’s the greatest form of strength.

Indeed many people are uncomfortable discussing their mental health because they believe American bosses or from the rest of the world are less likely to respond well. However, knowing that you spend a massive part of your entire life in the office should motivate you to speak up. Further, no one is immune from physical and mental ill-health.

So then, you should advocate for yourself, because you’re covered under the ADA and your employer is required to provide you with reasonable accommodation whenever you ask for it.

Still, your company might have a mental health service like the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) where you get free mental health counselling sessions to help you remain productive.

Understanding it’s also your employer’s interest to help and listen to you should motivate you to book an appointment with your manager to discuss your anxiety, or depression. This will keep you regularly in the office and cut off absenteeism or sick offs. Keeping quiet might make the situation worse or spiral into debilitating depression.

Wrap Up

Anxiety can be a difficult condition to manage alone. Therefore speak about your mental health at the workplace because instead of being fired you will receive help.

Employees are protected under the ADA and your colleagues and employers will be helpful. Clearly,  speaking about it and seeking help is one of the several ways of dealing with anxiety at the workplace.

I'm a passionate full-time blogger. I love writing about startups, how they can access key resources, avoid legal mistakes, respond to questions from angel investors as well as the reality check for startups. Continue reading my articles for more insight.

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