11 Tips to Handle Anxiety at Work and Beat Stress

Apr 24 2017 | Tags: Mindfulness, Emotional Intelligence

11 Tips to Handle Anxiety at Work and Beat Stress

We are all familiar with the feeling of anxiety at work. It’s far more common than many of us realise. Our office environments are overloaded with technology and distractions and we easily feel overwhelmed and stressed, and this can soon spiral into recurring anxiety at work.

There are so many reasons for anxiety at work from the pressure of securing an important client to the hundred and one small stresses of constant deadlines and meetings. In a study by the University of Otago, high-pressure jobs were linked with increased risk for anxiety and depression. Not only does anxiety impact our productivity and reduce our emotional intelligence, it also can disrupt our health and well-being. Unfortunately, work anxiety is never just work anxiety. It intrudes on the rest of our lives as well. Anxiety at work can manifest in many forms from a feeling of unease to a feeling of severe fear.

However, despite this, there are plenty of ways to handle anxiety at work. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, anxiety disorders are among the most common and treatable mental disorders. We’ve combined a list of tips that you can apply to your life right now and help you reduce it. Whether you’re the manager of a large group or experience anxiety at work yourself, there are many ways to combat it.

Have all the facts about anxiety at work

Information is key when seeking to improve how we do anything, particularly at work. You wouldn’t try to fix the broken printer without knowing how. It’s the same with anxiety. Become informed and you can begin overcoming anxiety at work.

Some of the key signs of anxiety include sleep deprivation, difficulty focusing, fatigue, heart palpitations and even trouble breathing. Anxiety can go far beyond normal levels of stress.

Take Breaks

One of the greatest distractions today is technology. It constantly bombards us with things that demand our attention and it can be one of the greatest causes of anxiety at work. While at the office, take mini-breaks between your common tasks. After answering several emails, get a breath of fresh air. The distance and change of scene could help you stop focusing on your emails, or it could give you the few moments you needed to get some perspective on that last difficult missive from a client. After your brief time outdoors, you can return indoors and start your next assignment refreshed without carrying around the anxiety about that last email you sent. Other great breaks might include fetching a glass of water, a stroll around the room and even just standing up and stretching can help clear your mind off work anxieties.

Focus on the present

One of the key ways to reduce anxiety is by focusing on the moment. By concentrating on breathing, we are no longer focused on our anxiety at work but on a simple action. This might sound too simple, and yet difficult when your anxiety at work has reached a pitch and there are so many other things you feel you ought to be focused on, but just a few minutes of refocusing and change the momentum of your day and reduce your anxiety at work.

Related: 6 Easy Tips for Mindfulness at Work

Talk about it

One of the most common pieces of advice about anxiety at work is to speak to someone about it. Depending on how severe your anxiety is you can speak with a friend or family member or a doctor. With information, you can decipher which is most appropriate for you. If you have the signs of clinical anxiety then seek help. Talking about our anxiety can greatly reduce the fears around it, as well as lessening the stigma we associate with it. Often, we judge ourselves harshly when our friends, family or a professional would be understanding. After all, it is estimated that 30% of North Americans experience anxiety.

Avoid negative people

One of the single most anxiety-inducing things at work can be negative people. There are many ways to deal with negative people at work. An effective approach is to physically remove yourself from the situation. If you have to return you will have a clearer mind and be able to deal with them from a more positive perspective, without risking getting caught up in their negativity and anxiety.

Related: How to Handle Confrontation in the Workplace

Stop trying to please everyone

One of the main contributors to anxiety at work is our need to please everyone. But it’s not possible. We’re not suggesting you start making enemies of your colleagues by ignoring instructions or by incurring the irritation of your staff by disregarding them when they make legitimate requests. But you can decide what you are capable of doing. If you are upfront about it, people’s expectations will change to suit you, and they won’t expect more than you are able to give. If you give the impression that you want to please everyone, it’s likely that the people you work with often come to you with their requests and complaints. Set your boundaries and your anxiety about pleasing people should reduce.

Focus on work

This might sound obvious but focusing on what you’re doing can stop anxiety creeping into your workday. This is a common technique of mindfulness. By focusing your attention completely on one task the anxiety which intrudes and prevents you from being efficient and enjoying your work will reduce.

Set goals and work towards them

It’s easy to get overwhelmed with how much you need to do every day and then let anxiety at work take over. An effective way to deal with this is by setting goals for what are the most important work objectives and how you will achieve them. Often, just seeing your to-do list and a plan written down can greatly reduce your anxiety at work. Instead of the struggling with a perceived mass of work and no real plan of how to achieve it, you can see what needs to be done. Then you can begin to tick things off. Start straight away. When you achieve a goal, you can reward yourself.


Linked to setting goals and working towards them is delegating. If your to-do list is too long it’s time to delegate tasks. Although, we often feel like we want to handle everything alone it can be much more effective to ask other people. They will feel more involved in the business and you can relax a bit more, knowing tasks are getting done.

Give encouragement and support

With so many people experiencing anxiety if you have a few members of staff you can be sure at least one of them has anxiety. You may have anxiety at work also. By encouraging and supporting your staff you can go a long way to reducing their anxiety, as well as your own, by creating a supportive environment where people feel able to share and ask for help. This will make for a more productive team overall.

Establish your work life balance

This is an ideal we all dream of. The perfect balance where we leave work at work. Have fun during our spare time. Exercise every day, and of course, eat a balanced and healthy diet. In reality, it can be hard to separate these parts of our lives. Work seeps into our free time with the constant buzzing of our phones to tell us we have another work email, while the same technology can mean our family is texting us with requests for shopping or because they forgot to walk the dog. You can help reduce your anxiety at work by clearly delineating that you should not be disturbed when you are at home or when you are at work – unless it’s a real emergency. This will help you to make the distinction as well as everyone else.

By implementing some or all of these tips you can reduce the effects of anxiety at work. This will lead to more productive and more relaxing and enjoyable workdays.

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