Anxiety at work isn’t a new phenomenon, but in recent years it has been thrust into the spotlight. Our fast pace of life mixed in with a “permacrisis” on a global level mean people all over the world are beginning to take their mental health seriously.
Fortunately, there are proven strategies to help you overcome work anxiety and regain control of your professional life. By focusing on mindfulness, setting realistic goals, fostering a supportive work environment, and prioritizing self-care, you can transform your workplace experience.
So if you’re wondering how to deal with anxiety at work, our ten keys below are the best place to start.
To quickly calm down during a stressful work situation, take a few slow, deep breaths to activate your body's relaxation response. Focus on your breath and visualize a calming scene, like a beach or forest, to help you feel more centered and in control.
Some strategies to encourage coworkers to help create a less stressful work environment include:
Promoting open communication
Creating opportunities for team-building activities
Being empathetic and understanding
Promoting a culture where people feel comfortable sharing thoughts and concerns
Physical signs of work-related anxiety may include:
If these symptoms persist or worsen, consult a healthcare professional for guidance.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past ten years, you have probably already heard of mindfulness. Mindfulness is the art of staying present and fully aware of your thoughts, feelings, and environment without judgment. Embracing mindfulness can be a powerful way to overcome work anxiety and cultivate a more peaceful and productive workspace.
To get the most out of mindfulness, we’d recommend looking for a book or course to guide you. But you can get started simply by setting aside a few minutes each day to focus on your breath, allowing your thoughts to come and go without attachment. You'll start to notice how your mind wanders, and by gently redirecting your attention to the present moment, you'll develop greater control over your thoughts.
Incorporate mindful practices throughout your workday, such as taking short breaks to focus on your breath or doing a brief meditation. Over time, you'll find that mindfulness becomes a natural way to navigate the challenges of your work environment, helping you remain calm and focused under pressure.
One of the most effective ways to overcome work anxiety is by taking control of your professional life through realistic goals and expectations. Anxiety at work often stems from feeling overwhelmed or fearing failure. By breaking tasks into manageable pieces and setting achievable targets, you can regain a sense of control and boost your confidence.
Start by identifying your top priorities and breaking them down into smaller, actionable steps. This will help you focus on the most critical tasks and prevent you from becoming overwhelmed. When setting goals, use the SMART framework — specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound — to ensure they are clear and attainable.
As you work toward your goals, be mindful of your expectations. It's important to be ambitious and to strive for excellence, but it’s counterproductive to set targets that are out of reach. Allow yourself the flexibility to adjust your goals as needed, and remember that setbacks are a natural part of the process.
Anxiety at work can be significantly alleviated by building strong connections and fostering a supportive work environment. Positive relationships with your colleagues create a sense of belonging, which in turn reduces feelings of isolation and stress.
Begin by actively engaging with your coworkers. This can be through collaborative projects, social events, or simply taking the time to have meaningful conversations. When you show genuine interest in their lives— and openly share your own experiences— you form the strong bonds that we need as social animals.
As a manager, show your commitment by setting up and enforcing policies on open communication. It might feel forced at the beginning, but with time, you’ll cultivate an environment where team members feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and feelings. In teams where everyone feels heard, valued, and confident enough to raise issues, you avoid creating one of the all-too-common toxic workplaces.
Stress doesn’t stay at the office when you clock off, so you’ll need to learn how to deal with anxiety at work once you return home too.
Overcoming anxiety often requires breaking the cycle of unhealthy work-life balance habits. As an example, remote teams who work from home quickly find they need to maintain a clear boundary between their professional and personal life to reduce stress and prevent burnout.
Whatever your habits are, establish a consistent routine that allows for both focused work time and regular breaks. Treat yourself with kindness by scheduling downtime into your calendar, just like you would with meetings. A mix of hobbies, social activities, and exercise is essential to maintain a sense of well-being outside of work.
Managers can help to establish healthy boundaries by prohibiting work-related communication after hours, and, on a personal level, you should turn off work-related notifications at home and communicate your availability to your colleagues. It might feel like you need to bring your work home to impress your superiors, but in the long run, it’s simply unsustainable.
By adopting healthy work-life balance habits, you'll not only reduce anxiety at work but also enhance your overall quality of life. Finding the right balance takes time, but give yourself permission to prioritize self-care, as it's essential for long-term success and well-being.
Learning to be your own advocate feels like a superpower when you try it for the first time. Yes, you need to be a team player, but that shouldn’t come at the cost of your mental health.
Start by identifying your needs and boundaries, whether it's related to workload, deadlines, or additional support. Clearly articulate these needs in a respectful and assertive manner, focusing on solutions rather than complaints. Use "I" statements to express your feelings and concerns, as this approach fosters a more collaborative dialogue.
From a managerial perspective, offer a range of communication methods so people feel fully comfortable reaching out. Anonymous forms are great for raising grievances, but video calls would be more practical to have a one-to-one with remote workers.
You can’t simply decide to not be stressed, and there are a plethora of strategies to help you effectively cope with challenging situations and maintain a sense of calm and focus. The more techniques you’ve got, the better prepared you are to deal with anxiety at work.
Deep breathing helps to activate the body's relaxation response. Whenever you feel overwhelmed or anxious, take a few minutes to practice slow, deep breaths, inhaling through your nose and exhaling through your mouth.
Progressive muscle relaxation involves tensing and releasing various muscle groups to release tension and stress. You can do this at your desk or during breaks to help you stay centered and relaxed.
Mindfulness comes with a series of exercises, such as brief meditations and grounding techniques, that aresuper effective in reducing stress and promoting emotional well-being. People who frequently practice mindfulness exercises report having more resilience when it comes to stress.
It may seem obvious, but prioritizing self-care is essential to overcome work anxiety and maintain overall well-being. However, it’s incredibly easy to slip into bad habits. Nourishing your mind and body is a skill that takes practice, so set reminders to keep you on track.
With so many distractions, it’s easy to postpone bedtime as you stare at a blue-lit screen. However, getting enough sleep each night has a revolutionary effect on your cognitive function, emotional balance, and stress management. Prioritize seven to nine hours of quality sleep to allow your body and mind to recover from the day's activities.
Regular exercise is also vital for reducing stress and anxiety at work. Pick activities you enjoy, such as walking, swimming, or yoga, to release endorphins and improve your mood. If you schedule exercise into your day, it’s not too difficult to hit the recommended 30 minutes most days of the week.
Proper nutrition supports both physical and mental health. Consume a variety of whole foods, including fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains, to provide your body with essential nutrients and energy.
Self-care is not selfish — it's necessary for your overall well-being and productivity.
Anxiety is often sparked by your perspective of things, not reality. Reframing your perspective by transforming negative thoughts into opportunities for growth helps to shift your mindset and cultivate a more positive and proactive approach to challenges.
Overlapping with mindfulness techniques, it’s crucial to become aware of your negative thought patterns and self-talk. When you notice a negative thought, pause and consider whether it's based on facts or assumptions. Challenge these thoughts by looking for evidence that contradicts them or exploring alternative explanations.
Next, practice adopting a growth mindset, which focuses on your development and makes you more resilient to challenges.
Gratitude can also be a helpful tool for reframing your perspective. Acknowledging the positive aspects of your work and life helps shift your focus away from negativity and stress.
Anxiety at work is often triggered by a feeling that you’re plateauing. To combat this, feed that hunger to embrace new experiences and learn new things. Even if you feel work is dragging you down, learning new things acts as an outlet to give you a more positive outlook on life.
Start by seeking out opportunities for personal and professional development, such as workshops, courses, or mentoring programs. If you’re feeling more adventurous, try something completely new that isn’t work-related — you’ll still get the satisfaction.
On a more internal level, try journaling as a way of improving yourself. It is such a simple practice, but nothing is more effective for processing experiences and gaining insights into your thoughts and emotions.
There may be times when anxiety at work becomes overwhelming, and it's important to recognize that and seek professional help. While the previous nine strategies are all valuable, sometimes you need external help.
Speak to a mental health professional if you consistently experience debilitating anxiety or if your stress begins to interfere with your daily life, relationships, or job performance. If you've tried various self-help techniques with limited success, a professional can offer tailored support to address your specific needs.
If you’re a decision-maker, consult with your HR team to create an Employee Assistance Program (EAP). Well-trained professionals can be the catalyst in improving anxiety levels across your team. But if the task is beyond them, the next step would be to get a primary care physician involved.
Seeking help is a sign of strength and self-awareness, not weakness. By consulting a professional, you're taking proactive steps to overcome work anxiety and prioritize your mental health.
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Mental health hasn’t been a priority in workplaces for very long, and businesses are still working out the best way to approach it.
But one thing is for certain — organization, proactiveness, and a positive mindset are the keys.
At Bitrix24, we can’t snap our fingers and give you an uplifting attitude, but we can give you the tech that makes it easy to implement change. On one easy-to-use platform, you get:
Comprehensive HR tools
A full suite of communication tools
A complete set of features to organize and schedule your work
So if you want to tackle anxiety at work in a structured, methodical way, sign up for Bitrix24 today.