Most people feel anxious or nervous from time to time at work, especially when under extra pressure. For example, it is normal to feel anxious before doing a work presentation in front of colleagues. Moderate anxiety in these situations can help us perform better. However, if you experience anxiety frequently and intensely at work, you may be struggling to cope with your anxiety.
Here are five tips on how to cope with anxiety at work:
#Tip 1. Remember anxiety is just a feeling.
Anxiety at work can feel like you are losing control of your professionalism, dignity and career opportunities. Chances are your anxiety just makes you feel this way, rather than actually impacting on your work. Yes, the feeling of anxiety in any given situations is yucky, but ask yourself honestly – does it really impact on your work? Reflect on your relationships at work, your career progression and your performance reviews. Chances are your anxiety is just a feeling of losing control, and in actual fact you are not losing control. If anxiety is actually impacting your work (perhaps because you are avoiding certain situations), then it is worthwhile reading Small Steps Towards Improving How You Deal with Anxiety at Work.
#Tip 2. Learn a breathing exercise.
Yeah I get it, you have heard this before, but let me explain why a breathing exercise helps you cope with anxiety at work.
When you feel anxious at work, it is because adrenaline is pumping around your body, preparing you for ‘fight or flight’. The sympathetic nervous system has been activated – you may sweat, your muscles tense, you feel nauseous, you feel hot (and go red in the face), your hands may shake…and you breathe quickly. To slow down the activation of the sympathetic nervous system, you need to send a message to the brain that everything is OK and there is no real threat – ah huh, I need to learn a breathing exercise! A breathing exercise also stops panic, which occurs when you hyperventilate.
#Tip 3. Be organised and prepared for work presentations and important meetings.
Winging it does not really fly if you are anxious at work. However, if you know what you are doing in your job, you will find you still perform well despite feeling anxious.
#Tip 4. Recognise when you ‘catastrophise’.
Often anxiety at work makes us jump to the worse possible scenarios. That is, we ‘catastrophise’ – “I’m going to lose my job”, “My boss hates me”, “I won’t do well on my performance review”, etc. Ask yourself: Have any of these fears ever come into fruition? Probably not. So, next time you find yourself catastrophising, call it out!
#Tip 5. Put effort into your work relationships.
The more familiar work becomes, the more comfortable you will feel. Spend time talking to, and getting to know, work colleagues.
These five tips will hopefully help you better cope with anxiety at work. It may help you to also recognise what you may be doing (or not doing) that makes your anxiety worse in blog post – Anxiety: What Makes It Worse? A psychologist can also help you manage your anxiety at work using Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) for Anxiety.
Can Peaceful Mind Psychology help with my anxiety at work?
Yes. We are warm and empathic psychologists based in Melbourne, who are experienced and trained in delivering Cognitive-behavioural Therapy (CBT) for Anxiety. If you would like some professional assistance contact us at Peaceful Mind Psychology.