How To Manage Anxiety In The Workplace

How to manage anxiety in the workplace

There are many things that help to make working easier than ever today. Laptops, tablets and mobile phones allow us to work away from our desk with minimal interruptions and services such as instant messaging and email mean that we are able to connect with work from anywhere in the world.

But this also comes with a dark side and that is the rise of workplace anxiety. The always on culture that many work environments engage in means that for many workers, they feel that they cannot get away from their workplace.

According to data from the Health & Safety Executive, 526,000 workers were found to be suffering from work related depression, anxiety or stress in 2016/17. This has a severe effect on productivity levels with 12.5 million working days being lost due to these issues in the same time period.

What Can Cause Workplace Anxiety?

There are many reasons that can cause someone to experience anxiety, and no two people will be the same. Some may find that one particular issue is the root of their problems whereas others may have many smaller problems that when added together result in their anxiety.

Many causes of anxiety can be found externally with family or relationship issues, money worries and more adding to the feelings of stress and anxiety, which can in turn affect someone’s working ability. But there are some unique causes found in the workplace that can increase a worker’s anxiety levels.

The HSE study found that between 2009/10 to 2011/12, workloads were found to be the largest cause of stress, anxiety and depression at 44%. This is understandable with the workplace culture that exists today, with people always being expected to be available no matter where they are, and for many people no matter what time it is.

Some workers will find that they feel compelled to take on more than they are capable of finishing in a timely manner, leading work to pile up and stress levels to increase. Other reasons listed for bad mental health include lack of support (14%), violence, threats or bullying (13%) and changes at work (8%).

How Can Anxiety Be Managed?

There are many symptoms that can be spotted when a worker is experiencing anxiety or other negative mental health issues. These can include more time off work being taken than normal, becoming more emotional than usual, fixating on negative experiences or being negative overall and a lack of concentration.

For some workers, it may accumulate into feeling of dread at the prospect of either going to work or being in work and anxiety attacks may become a risk. As such, it is important that employers actively seek out how to prevent issues such as this and make sure that if employees are suffering from anxiety then they are given adequate care and attention.

According Acas, employers should make sure that their managers are trained in how to spot the signs of anxiety and also be trained in how to help support their staff. This could include establishing a rapport with employees through both formal and informal conversations, allowing staff to feel like they are able to communicate their issues clearly and efficiently.

For people who feel like they are suffering from anxiety then it may be useful to see if your manager is a good confidant for you. It may be that they are not, so try and seek out someone you trust to discuss how you are feeling, the knowledge that someone is there for you can be a huge benefit.

Recognising the symptoms that you have can also be beneficial as it will allow you to see when you need to remove yourself from a situation that is causing you problems. Anxiety UK also recommends learning some techniques that are simply but can be highly effective such as simply going outside when you are feeling anxious.

Everyone is different though, so it can often be that you will need to experiment until you find something that works perfectly for you. A good tip however is to make sure to remove yourself from the situation that is causing you anxiety for at least a few minutes.

Improving your physical health outside of the workplace can also help to reduce the stresses that the workplace can give. It can allow you to refocus on something that is not causing you anxiety while improving your general health as well.

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Sarah Jubb
Sarah Jubb

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