Mental Health and Illness should and must be taken very seriously at all times. In a previous post, we talked about mental health. From now on, on a bi-weekly basis, we will be sharing ways to deal with different mental health topics. From an individual's perspective as well as from an employer's perspective. We must all work together to ensure, maintain and recover mental health in the workplace. Today I would like to talk about how we can deal with work-related Anxiety. However, I would like to note that even though a psychologist writes these posts, we should always seek professional help near us.
Work anxiety can affect our performance, the quality of our job, our results, and the relationships we form in the workplace. Some anxiety is normal and even desirable, when preparing for new tasks and events, for example. However, we need to identify when our anxiety is being detrimental, to ourselves and others, and the organization as a whole.
The APA defines Anxiety as the feelings of uneasiness, worry, nervousness, fear, or panic, for what is about to happen or could happen. Moreover, these feelings are always related to future or probable occurrences. And can range from mild to intense depending on each individual and situation. Mild anxiety can feel like restlessness or nervousness. In detail, fear, terror, and panic are characteristic of intense anxiety episodes. Worry, tension and stress are also forms of anxiety, as are stage fright and shyness.
Anxiety is a normal and natural feeling, however, if we are experiencing too much or uncontrollable anxiety, then we can be facing an anxiety disorder. Furthermore, there are different anxiety disorders defined by the objects and situations that may trigger these episodes. It is the job of a mental health specialist to define and diagnose these disorders, as well as the derived treatments. We will be addressing general anxiety feelings and responses. So what can we do when dealing with work-related anxiety?
Anxiety is a normal response our organisms have. We all have experienced anxiety in the past. So instead of trying to push away and hide what we are experiencing – which is overwhelming in itself- we need to accept it. Accepting what we are feeling at specific points in our lives will lead to us learning how to deal with similar situations in the future.
Sometimes we push away our psychological disturbances because there are not palpable physical symptoms showing up. But let us remember anxiety is as real as a headache. And, in the long run, our anxiety episodes can derive into something more serious and that is when we start having serious physiological responses to our triggers. Do not ignore your anxiety.
You know when you call the IT department because your work computer is misbehaving and they say "did you try turning it off and on again?". It may seem simple and even silly, but sometimes that is what we need for ourselves. The ability to disconnect, log off, and completely forget about our problems for a little while. Sometimes that is all we need to deal with work anxiety. Again, I am not talking about serious anxiety disorders. I am addressing anxiety episodes where we are able to identify specific triggers and solutions.
If we are feeling too overwhelmed with things going on at work. Whenever we feel we can not deal with what is about to happen. If we feel like we can not control the results of the actions we are about to take. Then we need to pause, stop, step back and reflect on what is going on. It should be 100% accepted by coworkers and employers if we need to take mental health days off. Remember your anxiety can affect your results and the overall company performance. So, take some time off to deal with your emotions and then come back and give your best.
The Digital era has made it harder to release the work pressure outside of our shifts and schedules. So, we need to find a balance, set out limits, and respect them. If we can not do this, then we will for sure feel burnout in no time. Now, working from home has also given us some other reasons to set boundaries. Anxiety and burnout lead to bad performance and undesirable results. We lose interest or can not focus on our duties.
In order to maintain motivation, increase focus and reduce distractions, we can research different time management techniques that can help us find a balance and set limits. But that is also adjusted and designed according to our personalities, roles, and needs. Once you designed or have adjusted to a technique it is easier to focus on your job and maintain your mental health, hence deliver better results.
We all can tackle and address anxiety differently as we all have different tools and resources at our reach. Some of the things I shared may work for some but not others. So we first need to know ourselves very well in order to address the thing we are facing. But, what else can be done to deal with work anxiety?