How Does Work Anxiety Hold You Back?
Thursday, February 1 2018 Tanya J. Peterson, MS, NCC
If you experience work anxiety, do you find yourself losing sleep over your job, tossing and turning and staring at the ceiling as you ruminate over what went wrong, what you did wrong, and what you will do wrong at work? Do you find it hard to get out of bed because you fear what the workday has in store for you? Maybe you have anxiety attacks even before leaving the house. When you experience any of this, your anxiety casts its evil spell and has you under its control even before you enter your workplace. Starting the day this way is a set-up for yet another daily struggle with anxiety. This battle with work anxiety gets in the way and holds you back from fully doing the job you need and want to do.
Work Anxiety Is Common
Anxiety in the workplace is common. According to the American Depression and Anxiety Association of America (ADAA):
- 56% of employees say anxiety affects their performance.
- 50% believe that anxiety negatively impacts the quality of their work.
- 51% report that anxiety gets in the way of their relationship with coworkers.
- 43% think that anxiety hurts their relationships with supervisors and others in higher positions.1
Reasons for Work Anxiety
Many things contribute to having anxiety at work:
- Performance-related worries and fears
- Social anxiety (Work anxiety may cause this in the workplace setting, or existing social anxiety might make interacting with colleagues that much more anxiety-provoking.)
- Problem-solving issues (Existing worries and what-ifs get in the way of rational thinking, and when problem-solving or creative thinking is difficult, anxiety skyrockets.)
Anxious thoughts about people and situations at work are at the root of all this. These thoughts can take many forms. Generalized anxiety—worries and what-ifs about what might go wrong or what you might do wrong— can affect every workplace interactions and tasks. Social anxiety disrupts relationships with workmates. Performance anxiety holds us back if we’re too anxious to take on new challenges and projects.
Anxious thoughts truly can run wild in the mind, setting off alarm bells of worry, what-ifs, and rumination over perceived mistakes. All of this work anxiety takes its toll on our wellbeing.
Effects of Work Anxiety
Work anxiety interferes in relationships with coworkers and employers. Anxiety can cause avoidance, difficulty with communication, and the ability to form connections. It leads to a sense of isolation and feeling like an outsider, which makes anxiety climb ever higher.
It would be problematic enough if work anxiety stayed at work. Unfortunately, however, it follows you into your personal life. Anxiety has a nasty habit of latching on and sticking. Instead of being fully present with your family or activities, anxiety keeps your thoughts on problems at work.
Work-related anxiety can decrease performance. It can interfere with happiness and overall satisfaction. Anxiety about work causes people to call in sick, possibly losing pay. It can make people quit whether or not they really want to do it, and it can contribute to someone’s losing his or her job.
You don't have to sit passively by and let work anxiety hold you back from success and satisfaction. Return next week for a strategy for reducing work anxiety.