We all have experienced some degree of anxiousness at the workplace. This goes for everyone; those suffering from anxiety disorder and those spared from this mental illness. Anxiety gets to everyone, and most of the time, it can come unannounced without any existing external factors triggering it. Such is the mystery of mental health issues – much remains uncertain and ungrasped.
With the coronavirus scare, the anxiousness of many is elevated at their job, with as many as 64% of Americans reporting being worried about experiencing the virus first-hand, as stated in Economist/YouGov poll in March. Not to mention with the ‘work from home’ policy in action globally, there has been a massive lifestyle change within everyone’s lives that found the workplace to be their escape or their reason for staying sane. So, work from home also indirectly ends up inducing anxiety.
The current times are tough, and for people suffering from anxiety, it is a downhill journey, with the majority of them having trouble navigating their way within the workplace. Research shows that anxiety coupled with depression is a disability. Sadly, it has been reported by Mind that 1 in 6 workers deal with mental health problems that primarily include anxiety, depression, or stress—having these mental disabilities become a significant obstacle in performance quality at work.
How Can Managers Save the Day?
Considering how common the topic of mental health has become, with the never-ending awareness campaigns, the people holding managerial positions within workplaces should take it upon themselves to take care of their team members’ conditions. There should be a culture of having formal and informal conversations to address mental health issues and how the managers can help keep them on track and encourage them to perform their best.
If you are one (read: manager), you should know the types of anxiety disorders identified so far.
Types of Anxiety Disorders
There are 6 significant forms of anxiety that a person can suffer from. Managers can try to create a comfort level with the employee suffering and try to determine which one or the combination of a few they might be suffering that is causing them to perform poorly at work.
The 6 disorders include:
- General Anxiety Disorder: GAD is an anxiety disorder that defines chronic anxiety, extreme worry, and tension, even when there aren’t any external stressing factors around.
- Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder: OCD is a well-known disorder that induces obsessive and repetitive behaviors or thoughts. The actions could be repetitive, like hand washing, checking, cleaning, or thinking obsessively about something.
- Post–Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): Post-traumatic stress disorder usually follows after the person in question has gone through a terrifying event(s) or ordeal that has affected them deeply.
- Social Phobia: Social phobias are like those disorders that are unique to each individual. Take social anxiety, for example – it is overwhelming fear or self-consciousness in everyday social situations. Social phobia is not restricted to just social anxiety and can be a lot more that translates into fear of speaking, eating, or drinking in front of others.
- Panic Disorder: Panic attacks or disorders where a person experiences unexpected and repeated episodes of intense fear and that too sudden, that leaves them with physical implications like dizziness, shortness of breath, heart racing, and more.
- Separation Anxiety Disorder: Usually, it is diagnosed in children, but even adults face such anxiety after facing separation from a loved one. When the individual or people you are close to leaves, you feel a sudden rush of fear of the unknown and start panicking.
There are more anxiety disorders if we start going into the minor details, like ‘drug-induced’ anxiety. However, the most common types of anxiety disorder are the 6 mentioned above.
Apart from how managers can help create comfortable and safe dialogues with their peers that may be going through a tough time, the one suffering can do a few things to help themselves.
Here are a few helpful tips that will allow you to work on reducing your anxious state at the workplace.
Tips on Dealing with Anxiety at Work
1. Actively Participate in Life
People who suffer from anxiety usually have been told to change the way they live their lives. The advice is absolutely right, but what we can do here is change the delivery, and what do you get?
You get, “Start adding to your life.” Meaning, that people who have such mental illness usually stop doing things that they either did and enjoyed before or want to do them but allow their fears to get the best of them. So to the ones going through a rough time at work or in their personal lives, start to live a life full of experiences, not lack thereof.
Yes, during the pandemic and isolation, doing just that may seem like a feat, but you can do the little things you otherwise avoid. It could be as simple as yoga, meditation, or being wholly present and living in the moment.
2. Practice and Prioritize Self Care
We are off to a good start; next up is practicing self-care. Yes, almost a buzz-word of the year and is being graciously thrown around in most of the memes. But it is actually a severe matter of taking a breather, adding a good diet, sleep, and workout regime to uplift your lifestyle’s quality.
If not now, then when? Time and age stop for no one, remember.
3. Reduce Caffeine (Yes, You Heard Me)
That morning mugs of coffee or tea that you consume like your breakfast are not suitable for your anxiety. Yes, you have to restrain yourself and lay off the juice. Now now, we are not asking you to minus it from your equation but maybe reduce the intake? I am sure you can do that much for yourself.
4. Stay Connected
Speaking from personal experience, having a close-knit circle of people that can be there for you will drastically change your life, and before you know it, you have much control over your anxious state. So start building that safety net for yourself, and you are set in the right direction.
5. Be Mindful
Be mindful of what? Well, for an anxious person, their Mind and thoughts could be their own enemy giving them all sorts of ideas and pieces of advice. It is best to be mindful, knowing when to listen and when to ignore, tune out, and relax. Suppose you are aware of your anxiety disorders. In that case, the best thing you can do for yourself is to sleep on an important matter that would require a stable state of mind, one that is not stemming out of panic, obsessiveness, or any other disorder.
6. Challenge your Anxious Self
This is where you go face to face with the root of your anxiety. Yes, it can be overwhelming. But with the right support and will power, you can come out victorious with reigns on the very horse that is controlling much of your life.
So, confront those anxieties in whichever way you feel is right and works for you. Need ideas? Let’s say you suffer from social anxiety, which includes public speaking – then go ahead and take an online class that helps you maximize those skills to your advantage. It’s like you turn your weaknesses into the very weapons of power, so your self cannot wage war against you. This has me excited.
As for technological and medical breakthrough in finding the smartest and effective cure for treating various mental health issues, there is much that biotechnology has contributed; with newer and refined ways to treat the illnesses that have long haunted humanity and with biotech consulting firms silently playing the best supportive role, the future of mental health diagnosis looks promising.
So, you do your part and the concerned departments will do theirs.