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Dr. Cassidy Blair, Psy.D. Licensed Clinical Psychologist | PSY 22022

Dr. Cassidy Blair, Psy.D.

workplace stress
What to Do When Your Job is Causing You Anxiety

Stress at work is by far the most common source of anxiety for adults. It’s also escalated in the past twenty to thirty years. When you throw in a tough commute, parenting issues and the worries social media can induce, something has to give. 

It’s estimated that employers lose 300 billion dollars in productivity every year due to stress. Many workers are crying out for help. Understanding the triggers of workplace stress along with some coping strategies are useful places to start.

The Signs of Stress in the Workplace

Stress can affect the way you feel and behave as well as cause adverse physical reactions. 

When you’re suffering from stress and anxiety at the workplace, you might become irritable or aggressive. You may also feel nervous and unable to enjoy yourself with constant fear and dread hanging over you.

This can cause you to behave differently. You may find it hard to make decisions. You might have difficulty concentrating and begin snapping at people. You could also be drinking more alcohol as a way to cope.

There can be other physical symptoms too. These include muscle tension, hyperventilation and panic attacks. You may also feel tired all the time or suffer from constant headaches.

The Causes of Workplace Stress

The majority of workers cite an overload of work as one of the key causes of stress. Things may be more complicated and it could be that there are several factors that are playing their part as well.

You may not get on with one of your colleagues or managers, for example. Insecurity in your job, boredom, and lack of challenges can also be factors. It’s important to pinpoint the things that trigger feelings of worry and anxiety.

We’re all different. A fast-paced job with tight deadlines might suit one person. Their personality may not work well and they may become stressed in calmer environments. It’s sensible to understand where you fit on this kind of scale. 

A Problem Shared Is a Problem Halved

You should discuss your workload with your boss. This will involve making sure that realistic targets are set. It also means coming up with a plan to solve the issues of anxiety you’re experiencing.

If you feel unable to discuss your problems with your manager then let a trusted colleague know how you’re feeling. This may reduce any anxiety you have about suffering a panic attack at work. 

It’s very easy to slip into the habit of not taking regular breaks at work. It’s a false economy not to use them. Stepping away from your desk means you’ll return refreshed, often with a new and clearer perspective about the work ahead.

Use your breaks wisely. If you can fit in a short workout, that would be the ideal. Even a quick walk outside will help. Any kind of physical exercise will start to make you feel more energized.

Time Management

Always make to-do lists and prioritize your workload. Plan well ahead and be realistic about when you’ll be able to get projects completed.

Most office environments will have their fair share of gossip and toxic staff. Avoid both. They are unhelpful and can add to an already stressful life. 

If you’re feeling stressed it can be easy to reach for the cookie jar or some other form of comfort food. It may offer short term relief but that’s about all. You should eat healthily, get enough sleep and limit your intake of caffeine and alcohol.

If things start to get too much, take a day off or make a long weekend of it. Just as with lunch breaks, time away can help you feel refreshed and increase your productivity. Use all the holiday you’re entitled to.

Make sure you nurture a life outside of work. That means working on relationships and having some regular interests that are not related to your work.

Practice Mindfulness

Mindfulness is one of the best stress-busters around. It’s a very useful tool to have as you can use it anywhere. 

When you’re suffering from stress or anxiety your mind will often race toward those issues that are bothering you. Start by being mindful of the moment you find yourself in.

What does that mean? Well, can you, for example, feel the fabric of your clothing touching your arm? Can you make out the sound of passing traffic? Does the room you are in have a smell?

If you can focus your thoughts on the ‘here and now’ then you will find yourself feeling less tense. Use mindfulness to keep yourself calmer.  Rather than heading for the coffee machine, take a few minutes away to silently focus on the moment. 

Consider Therapy 

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or CBT, as it’s known, is a long established and very effective treatment. It also tends to be long-lasting. The main focus is on identifying and then changing patterns of behavior. It can work well to combat anxiety.

Results tend to be much faster than those reached with an on-the-couch psychoanalytic therapy. Working with a psychologist, you will be actively involved so that you regain a sense of control.

You’ll learn practical skills to cope with workplace stress. You may be asked to keep records between the appointments you have with your therapist. There might also be assignments for you to do at home. 

Medication for Anxiety

This type of treatment of anxiety is usually safe and effective. It’s often used together with therapy. It may well take time and patience to find the drug that works best for you.

You will need to work with your physician to see if this kind of treatment is appropriate for you. It’s important that this type of medical care is properly managed. That’s because abrupt discontinuation could cause other health risks.

The Importance of a Work-Life Balance

Getting the right balance between life at work and home can be key to improved happiness. If you’re experiencing workplace stress then there are some simple steps you can take which will help.

Sometimes though seeing a therapist might be essential to help you on your journey. Read here to find out the five main types of anxiety disorders.

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