Anxiety - a working guide
Today thousands of employees will get up and head for the building site, or an office, the lorry cab or even an aeroplane cockpit, yet they all have one common factor: Anxiety. Most of us will have felt anxious in our lives and it is a healthy normal response to threatening situations. For some individuals, it seems like the sensitivity has been set to maximum so they find it hard to deal with everyday problems.
Workplace anxiety effects around 5% of all employees, making us feel powerless and out of control. It can be difficult to concentrate and easy to fly of the handle. It becomes comforting to withdraw from others into a safe space. Many things can make us anxious in the workplace. It is so often about fear of being judged by others for our opinion when we speak (humiliation) or feeling embarrassed or a fear of talking to our boss or supervisor. Very common anxiety is that we are less than perfect at our job and that someone is going to notice.
Workplace anxiety can also come from events. The most obvious is structural change in an organisation, the fear being that you are not important enough and you will be discarded in some fashion. But other events like a poor annual appraisal, or feeling bullied at work all cause that sense of being out of control and threatened.
Fortunately there is still the last thing left in Pandora’s box: hope. There are many things you can do to start to get control over your anxiety.
Challenge negative or unhelpful thoughts. Perhaps you think that your boss thinks badly of you. What evidence is there or are you reading his mind. Perhaps you do have evidence that he wants you to improve, but your anxiety is twisting reality making it worse than it is. Establish the facts, remember that feelings, or what you think is in others minds are not facts. Then be realistic about the situation.
Mark Twain (the American Novelist) once quipped, “I have lived through many terrible things in my life, and some of them have actually happened to me”. Try living more in the moment instead of focusing on what is happening next week or next month. Ask yourself how am I going to cope with today? Or even shorter if that seems too long.
Try speaking out about what you need. Assertion is often thought of as anger. Nothing could be further from the truth. Being assertive is about making your voice heard. Making sure that you are heard when the subject affects you. While this can seem frightening at first, if you stick to a few simple factual statements most people will respond positively.
It’s important to realise that anxiety is an illness and you need to take care of yourself. Cut yourself some slack when you get things wrong. Take breaks to recover, and do things that refresh you (not others). You may even want to consider getting help from your GP or a counsellor.