Encountering stress during work is completely normal. Stress to some degree is considered healthy. Your anxiety affecting work may be challenging. However, for individuals that suffer from anxiety disorders, it can be hard to determine where the healthy stress ends and the negative stress begins.
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is characterized by six months or more of “persistent and excessive worry” about:
People that suffer from GAD might have a hard time completing work tasks because their minds are elsewhere.
If you are living with GAD or another form of anxiety, work triggers may be causing your anxiety to worsen more than you realize. Finding methods to cope can make your work-life balance more manageable.
How Does Work Stress Affect Anxiety?
Many triggers can worsen the symptoms of anxiety disorders, including work. A common source of stress and worry in people with this disorder is their job. The stress of the workload or having tight deadlines can cause your condition to worsen.
Another trigger could be the money you make at work. If you are struggling financially, your time at work can consistently cause you anxiety. Or, if you have a job that causes you to speak in public or work with people that you don’t like.
Should I Tell My Employer About My Anxiety Disorder?
It’s overall your choice to tell your boss about your anxiety disorder. You are under no obligation to do so. The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) protects you from job discrimination if you suffer from a mental or physical disorder but are still qualified to perform the job qualifications.
An employer can’t refuse to hire you or subsequently let you go due to having an anxiety disorder or any other mental health condition. There can be several reasons that you may consider discussing it with your job including:
- Bringing awareness to your condition
- In the event, you may need a special accommodation
- To open up to co-workers and build trust
- Simply not hide your condition
Discussing mental health can help eliminate the stigma in your work environment. However, if you feel like it will make your job role harder you may not feel comfortable sharing those details.
How Can You Manage Your Anxiety While Working?
Anxiety affecting your work can be frustrating. The first step is to be aware of what is causing your anxiety to flare up.
If you’re able to identify where the cause is coming from, you’ll be able to make adjustments. You won’t be able to control every single aspect, but you should be able to find ways to manage the stress better.
1. Keep Working
Try not to stop working because you feel stress kick in. Working is good for you and the sense of accomplishment will help you calm down. Try to focus on your tasks at hand. If you work in an open office, try using headphones or working from home if possible. If you have your own office, close the door and put up a sign that says “Do Not Disturb.”
2. Learn to Recognize the Signs
You should know your own body and mind well enough to recognize when you’re starting to get anxious. It might be a certain thought, feeling, or physical sensation that signals to you that you’re getting tense. Once you know the signs, you can start to take action to prevent or stop the anxiety.
3. Keep a Journal
Writing down your thoughts can help you work through them. Once they’re out of your head, you might be able to see them more clearly and find solutions more easily. A journal can also help you track your progress if anxiety is affecting your work.
4. Talk to a Trusted Colleague or Friend
Talking to someone who understands what you’re going through can be a huge relief. Ask them to be a sounding board when you need to talk through your anxiety or stress. Knowing that you have someone to rely on can make a big difference.
5. Give Yourself Time to Prepare for Work Each Day
If you can, give yourself some extra time in the morning to get ready for work. This can help you avoid feeling rushed and stressed before you even walk in the door. Or you can try organizing your day during the last few minutes of the previous day. Having a game plan before you get started will make you feel more confident.
7. Avoid Toxic Influences
If there are people at work who regularly stress you out, do your best to avoid them. If you can’t avoid them, try to limit your interactions. By setting boundaries you’ll be cutting out that negativity and will help your mood boost. You don’t need that extra stress in your life if anxiety is affecting work.
8. Take Breaks When You Need
If you start to feel overwhelmed, take a break. Get up and walk around, go outside for some fresh air, or just step away from your work area. It’s important to take care of yourself and not push yourself too hard. This will help refresh your mind and allow you to think outside the work area.
9. Avoid Caffeinated Beverages
Caffeine can make anxiety worse, so it’s best to avoid it if possible. If you can’t avoid caffeine, try to limit your intake. Drink decaffeinated coffee or tea, and avoid energy drinks. Subsequently, alcohol also harms anxiety, even after the alcohol has worn off. So drinking in the evenings is probably not a great idea.
10. Watch Your Diet
What you eat can also affect your anxiety. Eating a lot of processed foods, for example, can make anxiety worse. It’s important to eat a balanced diet and to avoid trigger foods. Some people find that eating smaller meals more often helps with their anxiety. Others find that certain supplements help reduce anxiety symptoms.
11. Communicate if You Need Help
If anxiety affecting your work is becoming too overwhelming, talk to your boss. It’s possible they don’t even realize that you’re struggling. If you have a good relationship with your boss, they’ll likely be willing to work with you to find a solution.
12. Practice Self-Care When You’re Away From Work
Make sure to take care of yourself outside of work as well. This includes getting enough sleep, exercising, and finding activities you enjoy. Consider adding relaxation techniques such as yoga or meditation to your routine. Taking some time for yourself each day can help reduce stress and anxiety.
13. Find a New Job or Ask for a Raise
If your stress is caused by financial worries then consider asking your boss for a raise. If you don’t think that will be possible, it might be best to look for a new job. You can’t adequately focus on reducing stress and anxiety if you are constantly worried about money.
Get Professional Help for Anxiety Disorders
Finding ways to reduce anxiety affecting work will be crucial in helping you manage your career effectively. However, if you are truly suffering from GAD or another anxiety disorder you may need to seek professional treatment to manage it long-term.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you feel like your anxiety is starting to take over your life.
Tulua Health can provide effective treatment for anxiety and can help you learn how to manage your anxiety healthily. If you think therapy or a treatment program could be right for you, consider reaching out to our team today!