Anxiety in the workplace: Coping strategies for success

How do you deal with the pressure in the workplace? Starting a new career can be a real challenge. Yes, you're the new employee and you feel eyes are upon you. Expectations of you to shine are running through your mind. It might feel like what is a daily role for established employees is a nightmare of obstacles for you to overcome at the moment you are still not feeling comfortable sitting at your desk. Confidence is low and that old story of not being enough is emerging again as you ask yourself will I ever fit in here? 


Focus on not allowing your thoughts to control your workplace anxiety.

If you allow yourself to fight it will wipe you out by placing you in survival mode every time. Rather than resisting, embrace workplace anxiety when it arises. Reversing anxiety is never easy, but it's possible to break the cycle by constantly confronting feared environments. Until we learn this skill, when anxiety appears, we will try to run from it. Developing the courage to face anxiety will provide increased confidence. Ask the anxiety what it offers and examine the evidence of what you feel. When you allow yourself to lean into the situation, it will reduce your anxiety over time. Next time you feel anxiety use this method.

Anxiety will influence every area of your life if you allow it. Identifying when you feel an attack coming on will provide the time required to use the tools, I can teach you to reduce anxiety and enhance your confidence. If you don't develop life skills, you are likely to feel irritable and tired, and you will want to avoid association with your colleagues. You will detect low job performance because of a lack of concentration. When an anxiety attack is imminent, your frontal cortex, and your thinking brain, become inactive, which is why you experience these emotions. Have you ever tried to think your way out of an anxiety attack? Those who have will understand that it's impossible to achieve. This is because your mind has switched to survival mode.

Perfectionism in the workplace

Perfectionism is becoming rampant in workplaces; and what makes it so toxic is that, while those in its grip desire success, they are most focused on avoiding failure. They believe acceptance is conditional on their flawless performance. It is far more productive to spend time becoming more self-aware of unrealistic standards and developing the 80/ 20 principle.

In times of peace, I suggest creating a mental sanctuary as guidance. This can be as simple as you want. This will be your escape route. You can't think your way out of anxiety, but you can feel your way with practice.

Why is self-care so important at work?

Meeting the needs of others should not come at the expense of neglecting our well-being. Since Covid, a lot of work has moved away from the office and become home-focused. If not careful, the boundaries between what is work and what is home can become combined. Therefore, it's important to distinguish between the two.

Caring for yourself is not self-indulgent. It plays a vital role in your mental health care plan. Boundaries need to be set and the temptation of letting work life/personal life collide is avoided. Set a daily routine and allow this to become your structured plan. 

Discover your flow and, during working time, focus on the results you want to see. Do not extend your working day to the cost of other aspects of your life.

Those who are still in the commute of office life practice self-care as part of their daily routine. When we take time to ask ourselves what we need, it acts as a guard against becoming over-stressed, therefore, avoiding timeout because of burnout. Some suggestions are:

  • let go of any ideas of perfectionism and work on the 80/20 principle
  • use breaks to socialise with co-workers and get to know people
  • remember to acknowledge your accomplishments
  • if possible, get out to lunch or go outdoors
  • take regular breaks and stretch
  • set boundaries with co-workers

Keep your self-talk positive. This can reduce your levels of anxiety. Having a large workload and a limited amount of time can create anxiety. However, by developing a time management plan and setting priorities, you can achieve your goals.

When you develop your self-care plan, you will limit the amount of conflict you experience with your office colleagues, finding yourself equipped with emotional intelligence to navigate your way through the day.

If you have the freedom to personalise your workspace. When you see things that bring you joy, you feel a sense of reward and satisfaction to get the job done.

You are not on your own

You are more than enough to be part of the team! Did you know a survey found seven out of ten employees have felt excluded from their teams? This kind of exclusion can have severe and long-lasting consequences. To be clear, two-thirds of the workforce have experienced it!

Exclusion encompasses more than just missing out on lunch invites. It also includes being regularly cut off or disagreed with in team meetings. Even the most confident people can feel insecure because of anxiety. If you're feeling this way, it's essential to examine your inner strengths with a professional counsellor. Remember, even top performers have doubts about themselves!

But if we approach others with curiosity and a willingness to learn what it feels like to be in their shoes, we can find mutual encouragement and realise that we are not alone in our doubts. Let's make it our goal to turn our feelings of exclusion into a sense of connection.

Being open about your anxiety can provide successful icebreakers for understanding your colleagues. Statements like "I didn't sleep well last night" or "Did you see the news last night?" can help to ease the tension in the room by acknowledging collective vulnerability. Remember, there is no need to go into detail, just honest communication about not feeling your best today. Nothing will establish trust more than honesty, empathy, and shared humanity.

For more guidance on anxiety save my page or follow the weblink at the top of my page.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Counselling Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Written by David Pender, MBACP, Integrative Psychotherapy | Specialising in Anxiety
London E1 & E14

David Pender M.B.A.C.P Corporate & Personal Mental Health Anxiety Specialist
counselling and psychotherapy face Your fear & s et Yourself free, Perhaps self-doubt is making it difficult for you to form strong connections with your team and others. Would you like to improve your internal dialogue and increase your sense of well-being?

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