Have you ever felt excessive irritation while working, felt like having a lump in your throat while submitting your presentation, had difficulty concentrating or completing your work within a deadline, lack of motivation to complete a project?
Then maybe you are suffering from work anxiety.
Now what is anxiety?
Psychologists define anxiety as a diffuse, vague and very unpleasant feeling of fear. We experience anxiety when we are waiting to take an examination or before giving a performance. This is very normal and mostly motivates us to do our tasks well whereas high levels of anxiety cause interference in our daily routine. When this acts as a hindrance in the path of our basic activities, it takes the form of anxiety disorder.
SYMPTOMS OF ANXIETY
- Shortness of breath
- Loss of appetite
- Frequent urination
- Rapid heart rate
- Apprehensive feelings about future
According to a survey conducted by the Anxiety Disorder Association of America, only 9% have been diagnosed with anxiety disorder whereas 40% experience ongoing stress in their daily life.
What is work anxiety?
It is 5 P.M. and you are left with a huge pile of work. You feel restless and uneasiness creeps into your soul as you try to figure out how to complete them within the deadline.
Work anxiety refers to the stress caused by work that leads to anxiety. It can be linked to the conditions of your work environment, interaction with peers and managers or the fear of judgement and rejection. 56% of anxiety sufferers deal particularly with work anxiety.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF WORK ANXIETY?
The symptoms of anxiety are mentioned below :
- Lack of pleasure in your job
- Negative emotional reactions at work
- Increased irritability and angry outbursts at work
- Loss of motivation
- Increase levels of absence from work
HOW DOES WORK ANXIETY AFFECT US?
If you are living with work anxiety, then it probably has taken a toll on multiple aspects of your life. Some of them are mentioned below:
- Seeing effects on relationships with coworkers and superiors
- Feeling effects on your relationship with your romantic partner
- Experiencing reduced job performance and quality of work
- Developing problems with concentration, fatigue, irritability, reduced productivity
- Having reduced job satisfaction
- Avoiding innovation
- Having reduced social skills to work within a team
- Noticing reduced confidence in your skills
BUT HOW CAN ONE CHANNELISE THESE EMOTIONS TO BECOME PRODUCTIVE?
Feelings of anxiety that are on an emotional spectrum can have a huge impact on our mental health. At one end of the spectrum, one could have low-level emotional symptoms. An example can be when you know your car is making weird noises but you can’t fix it as you don’t have money for its repairment. On the other hand, at another end of the spectrum, there is acute panic. An example of this can be when you are stuck between a bear and a house on fire.
When one experiences this acute panic, adrenaline begins to rush through our veins thus increasing our heart rate and there is a surge in our blood pressure. Our body’s fight or flight mode is activated. But when our body reacts in a ‘bear in the yard’ motion to a ‘client pitch’ sized problem, then our anxiety disorder stops being helpful.
Anxiety and stress are two different things. Stress is a response or a reaction to harmful stimuli.
Unlike stress, anxiety in itself is self-sufficient and can exist on its own- like a fragile snowflake with meaningless fear that won’t fade away even when the sunlight shines brightly over it.
If an individual feels uneasiness and discomfort while thinking about his/ her workplace, projects, and peers then that simply implies the presence of the workplace anxiety. It acts as a barrier between our daily workplace activities and us; almost like having two jobs. And anyone who has two jobs clearly knows that performance and productivity will definitely take a toll.
Nature has designed us to feel productive and move towards growth because it has been our biological imperative since so long. And when we fail to do so, we punish ourselves for our lack of output with a response that is filled with anxiety.
METHODS TO COPE UP WITH WORK ANXIETY
- Understand the things that might trigger your anxiety at your workplace and create a plan to deal with your triggers. If you can identify and understand your triggers then you can work on avoiding and coping with them. One can even note them down in their journals whenever they face anxiety and this will help them to ease it out.
- One should treat their productivity like an anxiety barometer. Research suggests that seeking distraction, and avoiding completion of goals can be early symptoms of the beginning of an anxiety episode. By closely monitoring the fluctuations of productivity, one can develop an early warning system for those anxious feelings
- If your anxiety rises up when you are not sure of your goal, demanding feedback is essential. Research revealed that feedback without a proper and specific goal can lead to anxiety among people. Organisational psychologists believe that giving specific feedback is the key to reducing workspace anxiety.
- Even though so many people say depression interferes with work performance, few disclose it to their employers. It’s likely that people don’t speak up or ask for help because there is still a stigma around it. Mental health discrimination at work, unfortunately, discourages open dialogues. People may be worried that they will be viewed as incapable of doing their job and could be let go as a result of asking for help. But depending upon the severity of your symptoms, you may want to make certain people at work aware of your situation.
Before you decide to quit work because of anxiety, it is helpful to put in place coping strategies that will help you manage stress at the workplace and overcome anxiety. Ultimately, it is always advised that the most important thing should be your health and your family. Money can be replaced but your health and your family cannot!
In the end, always remember to go easy on yourself. Never burden yourself with work and don’t forget that productivity always is not always equal to performance. None of the above-mentioned strategies will have an impact on you unless you don’t forgive yourself for your anxiety.