10 Tips to Overcome Performance Anxiety at Work

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Do you experience workplace anxiety? This is fairly normal, according to stress.org. Sixty-two percent of workers report that their jobs cause high levels of stress, anxiety, extreme fatigue, and feelings of being out of control. 

Only 5% said that their jobs were not stressful.

Performance anxiety in the workplace is a physiological and emotional reaction to thoughts surrounding an employee’s abilities, worthiness, and value. When these negative thoughts interfere with job performance, the result is often a self-fulfilling prophecy—mental energy and attention, which could be allocated to getting work done, are directed toward negative thoughts, emotions, and anxiety.

As a result, job performance suffers.

In this post, Klarity discusses workplace anxiety, its causes, and how to overcome it. We’ll cover—

  • Common symptoms of work anxiety
  • The negative impacts of workplace anxiety on health
  • The difference between internal and external sources of workplace anxiety
  • 10 ways to relieve workplace anxiety symptoms

If you want to discover how Klarity can help you with workplace anxiety, take our free online self evaluation and schedule a session with an anxiety-trained healthcare provider on Klarity in under 48 hours.

Symptoms of Work-Related Anxiety

As mentioned above, stress and anxiety are common in the workplace. However, there is a distinction between occasional anxiety and experiencing an all-consuming sense of dread and panic when thinking about work.

If your work-related anxiety is constantly distracting you from getting stuff done in the office and negatively affecting your personal life away from work, you might have developed an anxiety disorder, or stress at work is triggering your already-diagnosed anxiety disorder. 

Common symptoms of workplace anxiety include: 

  • Constant worrying about tasks and work
  • Catching yourself crying often 
  • Palpitation and or sweating
  • Feeling irrationally anxious and stressed at work 
  • Finding it difficult to concentrate
  • Difficulty in speaking with others and avoiding meetings
  • Losing interest in work
  • Overeating or undereating 
  • Unable to sleep at night, worrying about the next workday
  • panic attacks
  • Possibly turning down promotions to avoid more responsibilities

This type of anxiety can result from a toxic or abusive work environment—like a difficult boss or co-worker issues—or a traumatic work experience that leads to self-doubt, social anxiety, or anxious thoughts.

People with a preexisting anxiety disorder diagnosis are more likely to respond with anxiety to negative stimuli at work. They may already have chronic self-esteem issues or anxiety, and work-life stress and imbalance push them to their breaking point.

Noticing symptoms and suspect you may have a mental health condition? Take a free self-evaluation on Klarity today.

The Negative Impact Of Work Anxiety On Mental Health

It should be no surprise that humans don’t function their best when under constant stress. There are numerous studies showing how workplace anxiety hampers productivity. Rather than look at the toll from an employer’s perspective, let’s focus on employees.

Here is how performance anxiety at work can lead to trouble concentrating, chronic stress, physical health issues, and mental health issues:

  • Increased stress: Anxiety can cause feelings of stress, which can lead to physical symptoms such as headaches, muscle tension, and fatigue. This can also affect your ability to concentrate and effectively perform your duties.
  • Depression: Chronic job-related anxiety can lead to depression. Symptoms of depression include feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and loss of interest in activities you previously enjoyed.
  • Burnout: When anxiety is not effectively managed, it can lead to burnout. Burnout is a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress.
  • Impaired cognitive function: Job-related anxiety can also affect cognitive function, such as memory and attention. This can make it difficult to complete tasks and make decisions.
  • Substance abuse: Some people may use drugs or alcohol to cope with job-related anxiety, leading to substance abuse disorders.
  • Social withdrawal: Job-related anxiety can also lead to social withdrawal and isolation. This can further exacerbate feelings of anxiety and depression.

Is Your Anxiety Internal, External, or Both?

Your approach to dealing with performance anxiety at work depends on a few factors. You need to find the source of your anxiety and determine whether or not it is internal, external, or both.

Examples of internal sources of workplace anxiety include

  • Negative thoughts and feelings regarding your worth as a person, your skills and abilities as an employee, and your chances of upward mobility at your current workplace can negatively affect your mental health.
  • A pre-existing anxiety disorder or mood disorder can influence how you view your job, yourself, co-workers, workload, and other job-related factors. People with depression, generalized anxiety disorder, or other anxiety disorders might be more inclined to have work performance anxiety.
  • Whether or not your heart is in the work you do—people are more likely to feel anxious or experience job stress if they aren’t passionate about their work.

Examples of external sources of work performance anxiety at work include

  • A toxic work environment
  • Cruel or abusive co-workers, managers, or work culture
  • High or unreasonable expectations
  • A heavy, unreasonable workload

You may be experiencing internal and external sources of performance anxiety in the workplace. For example, you could have an anxiety and depression diagnosis and work in a toxic work environment. It could be one or both. 

Figuring out the source can help you determine the best course of action regarding your mental health. 

If You Have an Anxiety or Mood Disorder, Consider Treatment

If you have a pre-existing anxiety or mood disorder that worsens your workplace anxiety, you’ll want to consider treatment. Talk with an anxiety-trained medical provider to determine if your anxiety results from an anxiety or mood disorder.

They may recommend therapy, medication, and lifestyle changes, such as diet and exercise, to help treat the symptoms of anxiety and depression. If the source of your workplace anxiety is fully or partially internal, then you need to address the root causes of your anxiety with the help of a mental health professional.

Tips For Overcoming Work-Related Stress

The following tips can help you cope with workplace anxiety, whether it comes from an external or internal source:

1. Practice Mindfulness: 

Mindfulness involves being present in the moment and paying attention to your thoughts and feelings without judgment. Mindfulness can help reduce stress and anxiety by keeping you focused on the present moment.

2. Get Organized: 

A cluttered workspace can lead to feelings of being overwhelmed and stressed. Organizing your workspace and creating a system for managing tasks can reduce stress and increase productivity.

3. Take Breaks: 

Taking short breaks throughout the day can help you recharge and refocus. Even a few minutes away from your desk can help you reduce stress and increase productivity.

4. Seek Support: 

Talking to a trusted colleague, mentor, or therapist can help you manage workplace anxiety. It’s important to seek support when needed and not try to handle everything alone.

5. Exercise Regularly: 

Exercise is a great way to reduce stress and anxiety. Regular exercise can help you sleep better, improve your mood, and increase your energy levels.

6. Practice Positive Self-Talk: 

The way you talk to yourself can impact your stress levels. Try to practice positive self-talk. Encourage yourself, acknowledge your accomplishments, and focus on your strengths. This can help you build resilience and manage stress more effectively.

7. Release Physical Tension

Operating under increased stress for long durations adds tension to your muscles and joints. Take time out of your workday to focus on deep breathing and stretching. Do simple exercises targeting areas where you feel aches and pains. 

8. Prepare Before Important Meetings, Assignments, and Presentations

Prior preparation prevents poor performance.

Staying ahead of the game helps improve your confidence that you’ve done all you can do when preparing for an important meeting, deadline, or presentation. Practice going through the motions and ensure you’ve completed due diligence well before the due date.

You can relieve workplace anxiety by feeling confident you’ve done all you can.

9. Reward Yourself After a Stressful Task

Rewarding yourself after a stressful day at work will give you something to look forward to and help your brain relax and wind down from the busy day. Take yourself out for a delicious cup of coffee or purchase something special. Rewarding yourself will help carry you through stressful situations at work and give you a sense of accomplishment. 

10. Take a Day Off or Plan a Weekend Trip

Taking some personal time away from work is always a great idea. Taking a step back and asking for a day off is healthy and can provide a crucial recharge.

It’s common to feel burnt out and overworked, especially by the week’s end. Take time by planning a fun and relaxing weekend away from work emails. 

Discover a Personalized Anxiety Treatment Plan

Do you want a personalized treatment plan for managing your anxiety but don’t want to wait weeks to see a medical provider? You’re in luck—the medical providers on Klarity can diagnose and treat anxiety online.

Klarity’s fast, affordable, and convenient telemedicine services are perfect for busy, working Americans who need relief from workplace anxiety. All you need to do to get started is take our brief online self-evaluation, and we’ll connect you with an anxiety-trained medical provider in 48 hours or less.

Sources: 

“Work Anxiety: 10 Tips to Manage Anxiety at Work & Survive – PSYCOM”

​​https://www.psycom.net, https://www.psycom.net/10-ways-manage-anxiety-work 

Accessed Sept. 1. 2022. 

Medically Reviewed By Dr. Zoe Russell

Dr. Zoe Russell received a dual bachelor’s degree in biology and psychology from the University of Michigan-Dearborn, pursued a master’s degree in public health from Michigan State University, and received her doctorate in osteopathic medicine from Michigan State’s College of Osteopathic Medicine in 2021. Currently, Dr. Russell is completing her residency training in family medicine and hopes to specialize in female reproductive and mental health.

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