All over the world, stress and anxiety are becoming true issues in workplaces. Do you feel anxious in the morning, right before you go into work? Or maybe you feel anxious even when you are at work?
Feeling either stressed or anxious at work can lead to other mental health problems if you don’t take care of it in time.
Anxiety at work is a thing.
In the US alone 61% of US employees experience work-related stress and anxiety (source).
If you have ever held a job at some point, you have most likely felt the pressure of work-related stress.
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And that’s ok. Because not all work-related stress or anxiety is bad for you.
You can feel stressed or anxious at work, even if you love what you do.
It might have been that you needed to meet a specific deadline, and that made you anxious at the moment.
However, when work-related stress or anxiety becomes chronic, it can be difficult to keep working and thus keep your job.
- Low salaries compared to the hours you work in a week
- Excessive workloads, meaning too much to do with too little time
- Not being able to grow or advance yourself in your area
- Work that is simply routine and not engaging at all
- No social support from your coworkers
- You don’t get along with your employer or coworkers
Generally, I don’t do well in office environments.
There are many factors that make the difference whether I perform well at work or not.
The coping techniques below are what has worked well for me and this is why I am sharing them with you guys.
How can a workplace trigger anxiety?
I find it extremely distracting when my coworkers listen to different kinds of music, podcasts or youtube videos.
I find it distracting when my coworkers talk to each other at their desks and they don’t lower their voices.
The fact that they are not even being considerate of people around them, can seriously trigger my anxiety.
Noise is generally a huge anxiety trigger for me, and once I have focused on a specific sound, it can be difficult for me to zone out again.
Habits of other people
This one can trigger me tremendously. Loud chewing anyone?
It can be extremely distracting if the person next to me is eating a piece of fruit and doing it loudly.
Or maybe the person next to you has a habit of sniffing every other second, sighing, humming (without them knowing that they are doing it), drumming their fingers, slurping, or rolling a pen between their fingers.
It can literally be the smallest thing that triggers especially my stress levels, but this is one of the reasons, why I will never do well in an office environment.
I admit it. Germs scare the crap out of me. I tend to become sick when someone near me is sick.
Because of many years of stress, anxiety, and depression, my immune system has taken its toll.
When that one coworker decides that she is not sick enough to stay at home (even though she is running a fever and a snotty nose), I am usually the one who ends up having sick days.
I mean, can you not just respect other people than yourself and stay at home, when you are running a fever and a snotty nose? Seriously?
Do you have to infect the rest of us? Thank you very much.
Ok, maybe a little harsh, but I am tired of people who ignore everyone else but themselves.
Being ill is also something that triggers my anxiety and stress.
In 2019, alone, I had the flu 3 times, and it took me almost a month to get over it every time.
I wasn’t at home for a month, no, because of course, my work won’t allow that.
And because someone else infected me by not staying at home, I, unfortunately, had to infect someone else.
Being sick completely drains my energy as well. I don’t sleep well, and in turn, this affects my performance at work.
So please, please, stay at home, when you are feeling sick and running a fever.
Think of everyone else at your work, and not just that you are going to need to take a sick-day.
Managers who always “keep an eye on you”
Ever worked in an office, where the manager sits with his or her team?
They ask why you are 2 minutes late, or why you have to go to the bathroom again.
Not that I am late. I have never ever been late once in my entire life.
I hate when other people are late, and this is the reason, why I am never late myself.
The kind of manager who keeps an eye on you every chance they get.
I mean, we are all adults here, right? They hired you or me to do a job, and they should trust that you can do that job.
Not everybody works in the same way – at least in my opinion.
If you think about it, just because people are sat at their desks, doesn’t necessarily mean that they are working.
They could be on Facebook or Pinterest or something else entirely.
How can you cope with anxiety or stress at work?
Ok, so I don’t completely hate working in an office environment, and I have made some great friends in them as well.
However, there are too many things that trigger either my anxiety or stress or even both, that I want to work there long-term.
Over the years, I have managed to make a sort of office survival toolkit for anxiety.
Generally, these environments do increase both stress and anxiety.
So, here’s how I learned to cope with anxiety in an office environment.
Tracking your stressors
A good way to start coping with anxiety or stress at work is to track your trigger points in a journal or even a habit tracker.
Find out what exactly is triggering your anxious thoughts or what is triggering you to feel stressed.
Who is with you and what are you doing? How did you react in this specific situation?
If you really want to reduce anxiety symptoms at work, you need to know what triggers it.
Develop healthier responses
If you react to anxiety or stress by eating unhealthy foods like McDonald’s on your way home, you are not reacting in a healthy way.
If you are feeling anxious or stressed from work, meditating or doing yoga is an absolutely amazing way to reduce your symptoms.
Make sure you have time for your favorite hobbies or activities when you get off work.
This way you will get your mind off of work for a while.
Going to concerts, to the movies, reading a book or will help you relax after work.
Taking care of yourself is extremely important if you want to be able to perform 100% at work.
If you don’t get enough sleep and don’t take care of yourself, you will be more prone to anxiety or stress at work.
If you are allowed, using earphones at work, whenever you are not talking to someone, can help keep distractions at a minimum.
It’s comforting to know that you can cancel noises out with your favorite relaxing music.
Ever made the mistake of leaving your earphones at home? Buy two pairs and leave one pair at your desk.
This will save you when you realize on the train that you forgot your earphones at home.
Aromatherapy at your desk
Did you know that you can do self-care at your desk?
Of course, you shouldn’t bring an essential oil diffuser, as the smell can irritate your coworkers.
It’s important to consider the needs of those around you. Some of your coworkers may even be allergic to some scents. Keep that in mind.
Just remember that what may smell like heaven to you, might be an allergic reaction to someone else.
Essential oils to help energize you:
Need to relax? These oils are great for that:
- Ylang ylang
You don’t have to use essential oils in only an essential oil diffuser. They can be used in many different ways, such as:
- Your pulse point
- Massage into your skin (your wrists are a great place to do this)
- Lava stone bracelets (the oil can be put onto the stones)
Go for some fresh air in your lunch break
Even if you eat your lunch at your desk, make sure that you go outside for some fresh air.
If you can only get 10-15 minutes during your break, even that can make a huge difference.
Lack of vitamin D can increase symptoms of anxiety and stress.
Use mindfulness techniques at work
Techniques such as meditation and breathing techniques can also be used at work.
If you are feeling overwhelmed or especially anxious, taking a few minutes to yourself to just breathe, can make a huge difference.
Using mindfulness techniques can eventually help you focus on a task without distraction, though it will take practice.
Get support from your supervisor
Employees’ mental health should be important to your manager and boss, as work-related stress will only make you perform poorly.
You can start by having a very open conversation with your supervisor or manager. Tell him or her what you have been going through, but do it in a way they can relate.
If you have kept a journal for a few weeks to figure out what exactly triggers your anxiety or stress, you can show this to your supervisor.
Tell them the exact situations, that make you feel stressed, but also try to come up with a solution to your situation.
Maybe your employer has stress or anxiety management resources available that you didn’t know about.
This could include online resources (online therapy), available counseling or maybe even a mental health professional.
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I always advise people to seek professional help, if they have been experiencing anxiety or stress for a while.
Even if it is not only at work. It might be worth it to find out, if your workplace offers online stress or anxiety management recourses, if they have counseling available or if they have a mental health professional available.
That’s always a great place to start. Once you have that underway, you can start looking at the things you can change in this article.
Do you experience anxiety or stress at work? Let me know in the comments below…