When Anxiety Affects Work

Dealing with anxiety AT work

For most people, work can be stressful enough under normal circumstances, but for those with anxiety disorders, work-related stress may have a profound effect on performance and future prospects. According to a national survey on anxiety in the workplace, employees with anxiety disorders have difficulty setting and meeting deadlines, making presentations, participating in meetings, resolving conflicts, cooperating with coworkers on joint projects, and managing staff.

If you find that dealing with anxiety at work is getting in the way of your career, informing your employer is a good idea if you feel comfortable. You might be surprised how accommodating they can be (and please note that anxiety disorders are covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act). But it’s also important to learn how to manage your symptoms effectively. Here are some tips that can help:

Avoid caffeine

Caffeine from coffee, tea, and sodas can increase your heart rate, which doesn’t help when you’re already feeling anxious. If you depend on your morning coffee to fully wake up, getting plenty of sleep every night will help alleviate that need.

Master time management

Get in the habit of making lists and prioritizing work in order to reduce deadline stress. Also, be sure to give yourself enough time to complete tasks or projects, and don’t commit to tighter deadlines than you can deliver.

Don’t make promises you can’t keep

It might be tempting to take on extra projects in order to impress your boss or position yourself for a promotion, but unless you’re certain you can fit extra work into your existing workload, it’s not worth the risk of triggering added stress.

Get it right the first time

Taking the time to complete a project correctly will save you the time and stress of having to redo it later if it’s wrong. So spend extra time at the outset to ensure you understand directions and are off to a good start.

Stay organized

Keep your desk clear and files organized so you don’t make a future stressful situation worse by not being able to find what you need to fix a problem. Some organizational methods work better than others on an individual level, so find what works for you (color-coding, to-do lists, etc.) and make it a habit.

Take frequent breaks

Even if you don’t get scheduled breaks at work, take the time to get up and walk around for a few minutes several times a day to clear your head and get your blood moving. This “stepping away” can go a long way toward alleviating mild stress.

Prioritize fun and relaxation 

When work hours are over, make plans to get out and have fun or stay in and relax. Even if you can’t get rid of work stress entirely, balancing your work life with a positive home life is crucial to managing anxiety.

Use your vacation time

Sometimes more than a weekend of relaxation is needed, so if you have a job that offers paid vacation time, don’t just bank it—take an actual vacation! You’ll be amazed at how much rejuvenation a brief break from the grind can provide.

Focus on the positive

Spend time focusing on daily accomplishments (no matter how small) and future goals (no matter how large) instead of dwelling on past disappointments or embarrassing situations. 

Ask for assistance

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, you’re not alone. Even coworkers without anxiety get swamped with work from time to time, so they’ll understand if you ask for help—and later you can return the favor. 

We can help

If you have severe anxiety that you can’t seem to alleviate with self-help tips like those listed above, seek outside help. At Alvarado Parkway Institute in San Diego, we offer inpatient and outpatient programs for anxiety disorders. Our programs feature diverse therapies, individualized treatment, and a continuum of care tailored to each patient’s changing needs. 

Call our 24-hour crisis line at 619-667-6125 to start your recovery today. We would be honored to assist you on your journey towards a healthier, happier life.