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17
May

The Truth About Anxiety At Work And How To Help Your Mental Health

Work can be a high pressure environment, especially with the fears of going back into the office being substantiated for some people.

No matter if you are remote, in-person, an essential worker or somewhere in between; anxiety at work is common and there are ways to help it.

It can be nerve racking to navigate your position within a company. Even if you are the owner or self-employed, it is still possible to get in your own way when it comes to work related anxiety. Whether you are the boss or not, you may feel anxiety at work throughout the day.

Anxiety is often compounded stress that feels similar to fear about the future or unknown.

Image of a woman looking nervous biting her thumbnail. Read More: “Common Questions About Anxiety Answered.”

Ask yourself which people, places, or things activate you at work so that you can come up with a plan to help yourself.

Once the anxious moment has passed, reflect on what made you feel that way as a preventative measure to help you the next time.

You will follow yourself to every workplace, so identifying and acknowledging your pitfalls as well as patterns can help you no matter where you go.

It is likely that you will experience a form of anxiety at work since it is related to stress, and you don’t have to deal with the experience alone.

You may have been diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder, have physical symptoms, chronic anxiety, severe anxiety, an anxiety attack, be fearful of a social interaction, or have one anxious thought.

No matter where you identify yourself on the scale of anxiety, a therapist can help. Some therapists specialize in anxiety.

Work-related issues are commonplace, so you may find that you are not unique in the way you deal with anxiety and stress at work.

In fact, some employers have support for employees already like an employee assistance program to help you locate the right therapist for you. If you feel comfortable, you can inquire with human resources if that is available at your workplace.

A mental health condition like anxiety can have recognizable symptoms and a professional can help.

That being said, there are healthy habits to help yourself through anxiety in your workplace.

Here are 5 ways to help you with managing anxiety at work:

1. Practice Boundaries
It is tough to make and keep boundaries no matter what, and in a stressful situation even more so. If you have a coworker who constantly gossips about others, it can be tantalizing to join, and it can increase social anxiety.

Image of sneakers and business shoes face to face on asphalt, work life balance concept. Read More: “What Are Boundaries And Why Are They Important? Learn To Set and Keep Boundaries”

In the moment, it may be uncomfortable to state what you need, and it can save you trouble in the future. Here are a few examples of boundary settings in the workplace:

I have a lot on my plate right now, so I will complete your request in the order it was received. If this task is a priority, please let me know.

I am not able to spend time outside of work with you right now.

I need a 2-week notice when you plan to miss work.

I will be checking my work email until 5pm each day.

2. Acknowledge Authority Figures
 Think about who plays an authority figure role at your workplace. Often, you may choose a boss or employee who reminds you of someone in your family without intention.

A boss may share the same characteristics as a parent. A co-worker may remind you of a sibling. You bring in your previous patterns into a workplace until you help yourself resolve them.

It is okay to identify power differentials so that you can better manage them throughout your day. This can help you to ease anxiety once you acknowledge what may be happening.

3. Pause 

Instead of solving a problem right away, get acclimated to pausing. That way, you can think with a clear head with no regrets. When you react rather than respond, it can be hurtful to yourself and others.

Image of a woman enjoying nature on a grass meadow on the top of a mountain with sunrise. Read More: “Learning To Break Cycles Can Help You Live A Fulfilling Life”

Some decisions require quick decision making, and some don’t. You can discern what takes priority at work.

No matter if a matter needs to be solved quickly or not, you always have time for a breath.

A breath can help you connect your heart and mind for clear solutions.

Deep breathing has been proven as a way to help mitigate anxiety and improve mental health whether you identify with having a mental illness or not.

4. Take Your Vacation Days

It is not heroic to waste vacation days. You will not be a better worker if you skip out on proposed time off. Workplace stress and work anxiety can get overwhelming, so you don’t have to prove to yourself that you need rest.

If you do not have vacation days, set aside a small amount each month so that you can enjoy them as well. It may take more time, but your brain and heart need a break.

Life is about rest, play, and work.

When your balance is lopsided, it can increase anxiety in your life.

Easing anxiety requires rest and a brain break.

When you are on vacation, set boundaries, and truly take the time off. It may seem like it is impossible to take a vacation, and that is normally a reaction from the past that helps support martyrdom or being a hero in a situation.

5. Eat Your Lunch Away From Your Desk

This is another solution that can make a difference in your day. When you are connected to your phone or computer while eating, you aren’t able to be mindful about the care you are taking to feed yourself.

Image of a woman woman with long curly hair enjoying cappuccino in a street cafe mindfully. Read More: “How Mindfulness Helps With Anxiety”

By not stopping what you are doing, you may be causing anxiety. It may feel hard to stop in the moment, but you will be stopping no matter what when anxiety overtakes you in the future.

When you step away from technology, you can lessen an anxious feeling. A brief lunch break will not be detrimental.

Think about how you can incorporate nature into your lunch break. A walk can do wonders for your mood while you are at work.

Anxiety in the workplace can be difficult to overcome, especially if you tend to experience anxiety attacks, panic attacks, or other anxiety issues related to work stress. However, it doesn’t have to be impossible.

There are ways to help your present self help eliminate anxiety for your future self. You can limit stress by acknowledging what is happening in the moment.

You may have previous narratives and patterns that are no longer serving you. If someone feels uncomfortable with the steps you are taking to get balance in your life, think about whether your work culture is the right fit for you.

When you show up as a healthier version of yourself, identify whether you are being supported.

Not every person has the privilege to shift jobs right away or at all, which is why working on your patterns can be the most helpful.

Then, you will be able to be proud of the person you are in every workplace and more opportunities that support your healthy self may come up for you.

You do not have to handle anxiety by yourself. There are ways to get help, starting with a trusted therapist who specializes in anxiety and can help you navigate tough situations in your work environment.

At Denver Metro Counseling, our therapists in Denver provide guidance to help you identify some of these relational and behavioral patterns that can get in the way of you living the life you want.

They have experience in helping people learn to manage anxiety related to work and other life experiences.

If anxiety from work related stress is becoming too much for you, consider working with a therapist. You are worth the effort.

Schedule A Free 20-Minute Consultation With One Of Our Denver Therapists

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Written by: Randi Thackeray, MA
Clinically Reviewed and Edited by: Julie Reichenberger, MA, LPC, ACS, ACC


Denver Metro Counseling is a group of clinicians who provide therapeutic support for teens, adults, parents, and families. We provide supportive therapy for people struggling with anxiety, depression, substance abuse, ADHD, negative body image, and more
Denver Metro Counseling

Our Clinician’s Bios:
Jessica Wright, LPC, LPCC
Audrey Bristol, LSW
Molly Ward, LCSW
Karan Steuart, LCSW, LAC
Julie Reichenberger, MA, LPC, ACC, ACS

Follow Denver Metro Counseling on Facebook: Denver Metro Counseling and Instagram: @denvermetrocounseling for other helpful information.