Happiness How to Deal With Anxiety at Work By Arlin Cuncic Arlin Cuncic Arlin Cuncic, MA, is the author of "Therapy in Focus: What to Expect from CBT for Social Anxiety Disorder" and "7 Weeks to Reduce Anxiety." Learn about our editorial process Updated on October 28, 2021 Medically reviewed Verywell Mind articles are reviewed by board-certified physicians and mental healthcare professionals. Medical Reviewers confirm the content is thorough and accurate, reflecting the latest evidence-based research. Content is reviewed before publication and upon substantial updates. Learn more. by Steven Gans, MD Medically reviewed by Steven Gans, MD Steven Gans, MD is board-certified in psychiatry and is an active supervisor, teacher, and mentor at Massachusetts General Hospital. Learn about our Medical Review Board Print Verywell / Laura Porter Table of Contents View All Table of Contents Overview Symptoms Causes Coping Getting Help Not everyone is able to effectively manage and cope with their anxiety at work. Many people struggle with excessive worry about a variety of everyday problems related to work or their personal lives while trying to get their job done. This type of anxiety typically disproportionate to the situation and can be debilitating. It often also results in physical symptoms like fatigue and muscle tension that can cause problems in your professional and personal life. This article will offer tips to help you learn how to deal with workplace anxiety and discuss the common causes and symptoms. An Overview of Work Anxiety What Is Workplace Anxiety? Workplace anxiety involves feeling stressed, nervous, uneasy, or tense about work, which could include anxiety about job performance, interactions with co-workers, or even public speaking. Workplace anxiety is common—around 40% of Americans report feeling stressed during their workday. While a little bit of work-related stress is normal, excess anxiety may negatively affect your overall health and well-being and cause problems both in your personal and professional life if you're not able to address it. Signs and Symptoms People with workplace anxiety may worry about: Driving to workFinancial problemsInteracting with colleaguesParticipating in meetingsPerformance reviewsGiving presentationsMeeting deadlinesOther work-related tasks These worries may translate into the following problems at work (among others): Failure to meet deadlines or taking too long to do thingsForgetfulnessInability to concentrateInability to focus or excessive self-focusSick days or lost productivitySpillover effect on family lifeSomatic (body) problems like tension, headaches, feeling of pressure, dizziness, and upset stomach Recap Workplace anxiety can cause you to worry about any number of issues, from your daily commute to your interactions with collegaues. It can cause problems at work and at home if left unaddressed. What Causes Workplace Anxiety? You may feel anxiety at work for a variety of reasons. These may be directly related to your job, especially if you: Are experiencing interpersonal conflicts with your co-workersDon't feel like you have the ability to control your workLack of job securityOften face deadlines that are too shortRegularly have days that are unpredictableWork in a particularly fast-paced and competitive environmentWork on daily tasks that are too difficult or ambiguous Workplace anxiety can also occur due to someone's individual characteristics or circumstances. For example, you may experience anxiety at work if you: Are distracted by other concerns, like problems at home Don't feel motivated to achieve your goals at work Feel like you lack the skills or knowledge needed to do your job Have an anxiety disorder or another mental health condition Have difficulty understanding and managing your emotions Recap Workplace anxiety can happen because your job is particularly stressful or hard to deal with, or it can occur due to personal circumstances. Tips for Coping Coping with anxiety at work is possible. Below are some tips to help you manage anxiety while on the job. Press Play for Advice On Dealing With Anxiety Hosted by Editor-in-Chief and therapist Amy Morin, LCSW, this episode of The Verywell Mind Podcast, featuring neuroscientist Dr. Wendy Suzuki, shares how to cope with anxiety and how you can use it to your advantage. Click below to listen now. Follow Now: Apple Podcasts / Spotify / Google Podcasts Speak to Your Manager Not everyone feels comfortable doing this, but speaking to your manager or supervisor about your anxiety may help. They may be able to offer you accommodations to help you do your job more effectively. Some people may not want to disclose their anxiety to their supervisor or HR department for fear of appearing weak or unwilling to work, losing out on promotions, or having it on your permanent record. While these fears are valid, it's important to know your rights: You cannot legally be discriminated against because of your anxiety. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 protects you from discrimination if you are qualified to do your job and able to perform duties with reasonable accommodations. Tell a Co-Worker If you tell a trusted co-worker how you are feeling, they may be able to help keep you on track. Having someone at work who knows what you are going through may help you feel more socially supported, which could lower your stress levels. Work Within Your Limits Get to know your limits and learn to work within them. That may mean: Focusing on a single task at a time and trying not to think ahead to everything that needs to get done Working with your supervisor to prioritize your tasks so you know that what needs to get done versus what can wait until tomorrow or next week Listening to music at work if you are allowed and if it helps you cope Setting small, frequent deadlines to keep yourself focused and on track Setting aside 5 minutes during the day to do a short guided meditation Taking time off to recharge when you need to Walking during lunch or a break Use Quick Coping Strategies In addition to tackling larger issues that are contributing to your work-related anxiety, it may also be helpful to practice quick-working coping strategies that you can use in moments when you begin to feel especially anxious. These in-the-moment strategies could include: Going outside for a few minutes Listening to a calming song Practicing a brief breathing exercise Taking a short break to chat with a colleague Try visualization Watching a funny video Grounding is another technique that can help positively shift your attention in the moment. Grounding involves using your senses to connect to your physical surroundings. This might involve: Holding on to a hot cup of tea or a cold glass of waterListening to sounds that you find calmingNoticing specific things you can see in your environmentSmelling a candle, perfume, or essential oilTasting food with a strong flavor, like a lemon or lime Recap Quick coping strategies, like breathing, visualization, or grounding, can move your focus away from stress and help you feel calmer in moments of intense anxiety. Practice Good Health Habits While anxiety can cause insomnia, try your best to stick to a regular sleep/wake cycle. If you're sensitive to caffeine, cut down and avoid consuming it past mid-morning when it's most likely to disrupt your nighttime sleep. In addition to getting adequate sleep, fuel your body with nutrient-dense foods and getting regular exercise can also help you manage your stress. Be Mindful If you find yourself losing concentration or focus and becoming wrapped up in worry, practice mindfulness. Become observant of your surroundings and refocus on the present moment. Try mindfulness meditation or any other practice that teaches you how to bring yourself back to the present. Use Mindfulness Meditation to Ease Anxiety When You Can't Cope Are you still finding that you can't cope with anxiety at work? If so, you have additional options to get help. Your first option is to seek treatment from a mental health professional. If you only have a vague notion that something is wrong but haven't seen a doctor, now may be the time. Obtaining a diagnosis and treatment—like in-person or online therapy or medication—should always be your first step if severe anxiety is interfering with your life, including your ability to work. Getting a diagnosis may also help if you are considering applying for disability benefits. You may also be eligible for unpaid leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Disability benefits or unpaid leave can offer you the time you need to work on your anxiety and then re-enter the workforce from a stronger position. The Best Online Therapy Programs We've tried, tested and written unbiased reviews of the best online therapy programs including Talkspace, Betterhelp, and Regain. Summary Feeling anxiety at work can be a common and disruptive problem. It can happen for a number of reasons, like having a stressful job, problems at home, or even an anxiety disorder. It can impact your work performance, making it harder to meet deadlines and concentrate on your tasks, and may cause spillover issues in other areas of your life. Coping strategies may help you deal with anxiety at work, as can speaking with your manager or HR department about what you’re experiencing. Seeking professional help may also help you better manage your symptoms and address the underlying issues. A Word From Verywell If you've taken the above steps to address your anxiety at work but still haven't seen improvement, your job may not be particularly well-suited to you. You may wish to consider career counseling or a career coach, who will conduct assessments to determine which jobs you are likely to enjoy and in which you may excel. 10 Careers for People With Generalized Anxiety Disorder 3 Sources Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). Anxiety disorders. Cheng BH, McCarthy JM. Understanding the dark and bright sides of anxiety: A theory of workplace anxiety. J Appl Psychol. 2018;103(5):537-560. doi:10.1037/apl0000266 Hendriks SM, Spijker J, Licht CM, et al. Long-term work disability and absenteeism in anxiety and depressive disorders. J Affect Disord. 2015;178:121-130. doi:10.1016/j.jad.2015.03.004 By Arlin Cuncic Arlin Cuncic, MA, is the author of "Therapy in Focus: What to Expect from CBT for Social Anxiety Disorder" and "7 Weeks to Reduce Anxiety." See Our Editorial Process Meet Our Review Board Share Feedback Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! What is your feedback? 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