Almost everyone experiences some level of stress and anxiety at work. As a natural response to fear, stress can be useful in motivating employees to prepare and practice. However, for people living with anxiety, navigating stressful situations in the workplace can be crippling.
From dealing with difficult people to deadlines, everyday workplace situations can be highly stressful. Workplace anxiety usually manifests itself as fears or hypochondriac anxieties including the fear of speaking up in meetings, of not meeting deadlines, of interacting with colleagues and superiors among other worries.
With an estimated 40 million American adults living with anxiety, it is probable you or a colleague may be experiencing workplace anxiety. While taking care of both your physical and mental needs is essential, interpersonal strategies can also be used to manage managed anxiety at work.
Beyond a healthy diet, prioritizing sleep, exercising and mindfulness, here are five practical interpersonal strategies that can help you manage workplace anxiety.
1. Delegate or Ask for Help
Work can be hectic, and you may find yourself overwhelmed by the many projects you have to complete. Overcommitting yourself can be the perfect trigger for workplace anxiety; hence it is advisable to ask for help from colleagues when overwhelmed by work.
If you are a boss, let go of the desire to be always in control and delegate some tasks to your subordinates. While asking for help can be hard especially if you are already dealing with anxiety at work, it is an effective coping strategy
2. Stay Connected
In social groups’ settings such as the workplace, it is usually natural to avoid anyone who makes you feel uncomfortable. It is very common for a person dealing with workplace anxiety to avoid colleagues or superiors who make them feel uncomfortable. From failing to reply to emails to avoiding your boss, avoidance in the workplace can take many forms.
However, experts have identified avoidance as one of the critical factors that maintain and exacerbate anxiety. Instead of distancing yourself and avoiding everyone in the workplace, endeavor to stay connected through open communication and by having good one-to-one relationships with your colleagues.
3. Avoid engaging in Workplace Gossip
Despite workplace anxiety, engaging in workplace gossip can be very tempting. While gossiping and venting about others may feel therapeutic and even entertaining, it is only temporary. Workplace gossiping only serves to build up more stress by increasing negativity in the workplace.
Instead of scapegoating and gossiping about a colleague or a boss with whom you have an issue with, it is better to approach them individually and resolve the issue. Having open and honest communication with your colleagues will go a long way in helping you manage anxiety at work.
4. Share your Anxiety-at-Work Struggles
The fear of being judged and fear of being incompetent are among the biggest concerns for people dealing with workplace anxiety. Even when they know their working conditions are triggering their anxiety, many people choose to persevere or quit their jobs rather than share their struggle with a colleague or a superior.
Rather than persevere or quit your job, finding an attentive listener whom you can share your anxiety problems with can be an excellent coping strategy. While the person may not fix the problem, it is always good to have someone in your corner. Better still, if that person is your supervisor, you can negotiate for less stressful working conditions.
5. Seek Employee Assistance Resources
While offloading your anxiety problems to a colleague can be helpful, seeking professional help is even better. Many companies provide counseling services and other mental health resources. If your workplace offers such employee assistance resources, it is advisable to utilize them.
While it can be hard sharing about your workplace anxiety, seeking professional advice will go a long way in helping you manage the stress.
While some working environments are more stressful than others, there isn’t available data on the appropriate work settings for people living with anxiety. The fact that they still have to work with everyone else means they have to develop coping strategies. Although eating healthy, getting adequate sleep and being physically active has been recommended by the ADAA for managing anxiety, having stable relationships is crucial for managing anxiety at work. To decrease workplace anxiety, apply these interpersonal strategies including asking for help, staying connected and improving your communication.