No matter the individual, we have all faced anxiety and stressful situations throughout our lives. From children to the elderly, everyone hasfelt these emotions. It is normal to feel nervous, anxious, on edge, frightened, or worried. And although these feelings are unpleasant to experience, they are a part of human nature. So how do we know when these feelings become a bigger problem that needs to be addressed? If anxiety is affecting your life and limiting your ability to handle every day tasks, such as work, it may be time to evaluate your situation and create a stress management plan. In this blog we delve into how to manage job stress and how to support your overall mental health.
ANXIETY IN THE WORKPLACE
It was Mark Twain who once said, “Find a job you enjoy doing, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” While that may be true for many people, it isn’t realistic for us to think that we will enjoy every aspect of our job each and every day. There may be times when you feel anxious because of an upcoming deadline or because your workload is larger than you can manage. If you believe that stress is affecting your work life – and home life, there are tell-tale symptoms that you may be experiencing. Excessive or irrational worrying, having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, experiencing the shakes, sweating more than usual, and a racing heart are just some of the signs. Anxiety doesn’t just affect us mentally, it also triggers physical reactions such as an upset stomach, headaches, muscle tension, and more. Some people may turn to drugs and alcohol to cope with their anxiety, which can then turn into substance use disorder.
Anxiety often manifests at work due to a number of reasons. Depending on the individual, it could be long work hours, pressure from management, competition from peers, upcoming promotions, etc. Who is most likely to be affected by job stress? Many people who feel anxiety at work on a regular basis are often perfectionists, over-achievers, or individuals that expect a lot from themselves. It not only affects individuals who work onsite but also affects those who work from home. The pandemic that we are currently going through on a global scale has affected many people. With physical distancing rules set in place, we have all had to sacrifice so much, and that may include working around our peers. The sudden change from a busy work environment to a quiet one at home may not be a positive experience for everyone. This pandemic has also given us the added stress of job security. Not knowing if you’ll be let go from your job is an added stress that no one should have to deal with – but it is a daily thought for many.
Before you decide to turn down that upcoming promotion or pass on the opportunity to speak at a convention or meeting, there are ways to cope and manage your job stress so that you may continue on the path to success at work, all while keeping your mental health in mind.
HOW TO MANAGE WORK ANXIETY
Anxiety doesn’t just affect your work life but also your home life. Managing your job stress not only provides you with a healthier outlook for yourself, but also the friends and family that surround you.
RECOGNIZING WHERE YOU ARE AT
The first step to managing your job stress is to realize that what you are feeling is real, valid, and not an overreaction. Once you have recognized that you are, in fact, experiencing job stress the next step is to understand what is triggering your anxiety. You may start to see a trend in how you behave leading up to an anxiety attack. Becoming impatient or experiencing a worsening headache could be signs that what is currently happening at work is a trigger for your anxiety.
CREATING HEALTHY COPING STRATEGIES
The best thing to do is to stop and analyze the situation before it becomes unmanageable. Creating a coping strategy is a great way to deflate the giant anxiety balloon that is sitting in your chest. Your strategy could be as simple as taking a break from your task and going for a 15-20 minute walk outside so you may clear your mind. In a similar vein, another way to cope is through physical exercise. If you have had a particularly hard day at work, going to the gym or completing a yoga session may be all that you need to release the tension from the day.
If you find that you have a large to do list, you could prioritize your tasks based on what is most important to least important. By compartmentalizing your task list, you can create smaller lists that are more manageable to complete. Setting realistic goals for yourself may help you understand what type of workload you can take on and what work you may have to turn away.
MENTAL HEALTH BREAKS
Many employers and companies now have systems in place that include mental health breaks for their employees to combat job stress. It may be worth meeting with your HR team to ask what options you have to deal with your job anxiety. There is nothing wrong with asking your peers or boss for assistance. If you are working for a company or individual that doesn’t respect your mental health, it may be time to evaluate if it is the right place for you. Speaking to a professional counsellor can help you determine what your options may be. Therapists and counsellors provide you with a non-judgemental environment where you can talk freely.
Many individuals experience job stress and it is completely normal to have had anxiety while at work. The important thing to remember is that your mental health is not worth endangering if you find that your anxiety is becoming a major issue. There are ways for you to cope with your anxiety and, although it may be different for everyone, we can all relate to a hard day’s work and mental stress. If you would like to discuss job stress, anxiety, and coping strategies with a professional, please contact us HERE.