Work anxiety and its causes: 10 proven ways to overcome anxiety at work, according to experts


Ever felt your heart race just thinking about work? You are not alone. Anxiety at work or work stress, is a common issue that affects many people. It is the worry and stress related to job tasks, deadlines, presentations, and workplace conflicts. Understanding and managing work anxiety can significantly improve your overall well-being and productivity. Let’s look into what work anxiety is, its symptoms, causes, and ten practical tips to overcome it.

What is Work Anxiety?

Work anxiety is the stress and worry that comes from job-related activities. This type of anxiety can be caused by different things for different people. For some, it might be the pressure of a big project or meeting a tight deadline. For others, it could be dealing with difficult coworkers or worrying about job security. 

Symptoms of Work Anxiety

Identifying work anxiety is really important for addressing it. Common symptoms include:

  • Feeling irritable or frustrated at work
  • Procrastinating on tasks
  • Feeling overwhelmed by work emails and notifications
  • Missing deadlines or producing substandard work
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Excessive worrying about work, even during personal time
  • Physical symptoms like trouble sleeping and fatigue
  • Overreacting to feedback
  • Focusing on negative aspects of the job

If these symptoms sound familiar, you might be experiencing work anxiety.

Causes of Work Anxiety

Work anxiety can be caused by both internal and external factors. Some common causes include:

  • Unclear goals or expectations
  • Fears about job security
  • Lack of support from management
  • Poor work-life balance
  • Workplace conflicts
  • General anxiety disorders
  • Burnout
  • Unmanageable workload

Recognizing the cause of your anxiety can help in finding the right solution.

Effects of Work Anxiety

Work anxiety can have significant impacts on your life, including:

  • Reduced job performance
  • Isolation from coworkers
  • Loss of productivity
  • Lowered confidence
  • Career stagnation
  • Missed deadlines
  • Impact on personal life and well-being

These effects can slow down your career growth and affect your happiness, so it is important to deal with work anxiety quickly.

10 Ways to Overcome Work Anxiety

Here are ten practical tips to help you manage and overcome work anxiety:

1. Acknowledge your feelings

Admit when you are feeling anxious about work. It is normal to feel this way, and acknowledging your feelings is the first step towards managing them. Talk to a trusted friend or write down your thoughts to help process your emotions. This can make your feelings more manageable and less overwhelming.

A study in the Journal of Anxiety Disorders shows that naming your emotions can actually make them feel less intense. Understanding your feelings is key to mental health because it helps you deal with the real reasons behind your anxiety.

2. Set realistic goals

Work with your manager to set achievable goals and deadlines. Break larger projects into smaller tasks to make them more manageable. This way, you can track your progress and stay motivated. Celebrate small achievements along the way to keep your spirits high.

3. Keep yourself organized

An organized workspace and to-do list can reduce anxiety. Use methods like the Getting Things Done (GTD) approach to keep track of your tasks and maintain a clean workspace. Decluttering your desk and organizing your files can also help you stay focused. Having a clear system for your tasks makes it easier to manage your workload.

A study in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine found that a tidy workspace can improve productivity and reduce stress. Experts suggest that being organized helps you feel more in control and less overwhelmed by your tasks, which can significantly reduce anxiety.

4. Practice good time management

Effective time management can reduce feelings of being overwhelmed. Techniques like the Eisenhower Matrix, time blocking, and the Pomodoro Technique can help prioritize tasks and manage your time better. Breaking tasks into smaller steps can also make them feel less daunting. Setting realistic goals for each day can help you stay on track and reduce stress.

The book “Getting Things Done” by David Allen highlights that good time management can greatly lower stress levels. Psychologists agree that having a structured approach to managing your time helps you focus better and feel more in control of your work.

5. Communicate with your manager

If your workload is too much to handle, have an open conversation with your manager. Discuss your concerns and work together to find solutions, such as redistributing tasks or extending deadlines. Being honest about your capacity helps prevent burnout. Remember, your manager is there to support you and wants you to succeed.

6. Set clear boundaries

Establish clear work and personal time boundaries. This can involve setting specific work hours, saying no to extra tasks when overwhelmed, and disconnecting from work emails and notifications during off-hours. 

Make sure to let your coworkers and family know about your schedule so they understand when you are available. Taking regular breaks and time for yourself helps maintain a healthy balance.

7. Take a day off 

Taking a day off to focus on your mental health can be helpful. Use this time to relax and recharge, helping to reduce burnout and anxiety. Spend the day doing things you enjoy or simply rest. Remember, it is important to take care of yourself to stay healthy and happy.

8. Practice anti-anxiety techniques

Techniques like deep breathing, walking, or repeating calming mantras can help manage anxiety. These methods provide temporary relief and help you regain focus. You can also try activities like yoga or meditation for a calming effect. Finding what works best for you can make a big difference in handling stress.

9. Utilize company resources

Many companies offer resources like employee assistance programs, coaching, or therapy. Check with your HR department to see what support is available. Taking advantage of these resources can make managing stress and workload easier. Do not hesitate to ask for help when you need it.

10. Create a support network

Build a support network of colleagues, friends, and family who understand your work pressures. Sharing your experiences and getting advice from others can help you feel less isolated. It is comforting to know you have people to turn to when things get tough.

Work anxiety is common, but it does not have to take over your life. By managing your time, staying organized, setting clear boundaries, and using available resources, you can handle it better. Always remember to take care of your mental health and ask for help if needed.

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