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6 Tips to Manage Workplace Anxiety

There can be a lot to worry about when it comes to our careers.

Anxiety can arise from toxic co-workers, unstable working conditions, financial uncertainty, and distress about not performing up to par.

Some anxiety is healthy and keeps us motivated, but if anxiety becomes persistent and excessive it can disrupt our daily performance and our overall quality of life.

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, employees say stress and anxiety most often impacts their …

  • workplace performance (56 percent)
  • relationship with coworkers and peers (51 percent)
  • quality of work (50 percent)
  • relationships with superiors (43 percent)

Those struggling with anxiety may turn down responsibilities that could benefit their career or avoid interacting with other people that are important for work projects or career goals.

To help you improve job-satisfaction and job-performance, here are six suggestions to help get your anxiety under control.

1. Stick to the essentials

First and foremost, maintain the habit of self-care. The mind and body are intricately connected, so our lifestyle has a direct influence on our mental health.

When we don’t take care of ourselves physically and ignore the daily essentials, we’re more likely to experience emotional imbalance.

To sustain emotional equilibrium make sure you eat a healthy diet, get enough sleep, exercise regularly, and limit caffeine and alcohol. Try to keep your body and mind in shape to handle challenging situations.

2. Use square breathing for relaxation

When anxiety is triggered it stimulates the sympathetic nervous system and we experience the fight-or-flight response. Using relaxation techniques is a great way to calm your physiology and offset the pattern of anxiety arousal.

Periodically during your day practice some form of deep breathing. Square breathing is one way to elicit relaxation. You can do this prior to meetings or before crucial conversations that trigger anxiety.

It’s just four simple breath segments done to a count of four.

  1. Inhale… 2… 3… 4…
  2. Hold… 2… 3… 4…
  3. Exhale… 2… 3… 4…
  4. Hold… 2… 3… 4…

Focus on your breath and the count of four; repeat the same process until you reach a relaxed state.

3. Work with your worries

Most worry totally normal and can help us take action to solve problems. If you have high levels of anxiety however, worry may be excessive and more alarming.

If you have a tendency to fixate on worrisome thoughts, try using a Worry Journal to express your concerns.

When we write out what is worrying us, we’re better able to process our concerns. A Worry Journal can help us gain awareness of what we’re actually worried about, and create some emotional space for us to problem solve.

4. Focus on progress, not perfection

Many people live with stress and anxiety because they have high expectations for their performance. Setting high standards and expecting positive results is important when it comes to success, but we also want to make sure we’re realistic and understand that we’ll make mistakes.

No one is perfect but often we expect ourselves to excel and achieve superior results. This can lead to all-or-nothing thinking and create performance anxiety.

Accept that you won’t always achieve your goals and that you’ll have good days and bad days. When you make a mistake don’t be so hard on yourself. Learn from your mistakes and identify the progress you’re making.

5. Focus on your zone of control

Anxiety can be exacerbated when we feel out of control or face a great deal of uncertainty.

Whether it’s coping with ongoing changes in the workplace or dealing with the erratic behavior of other people, you’ll cope with anxiety more effectively when you can adapt to change and keep focused on what you can control.

Ultimately, all you have control over is your own thoughts, attitude, actions, and choices. When you get anxious, ask yourself, “What can I do about this?” “How can I effectively deal with the situation?”

Avoid asking questions such as, “Why is this happening?” or “Why do they act that way?”

“Why” questions can leave you feeling helpless and inhibited.

6. Reach out for help

When it comes down to it, if you continue to struggle with anxiety the best option may be to seek professional help.

Take advantage of employer resources and benefits. Your workplace may offer an Employee Assistance Program (EAP), discounts to gyms, or skill-building courses.

Learn what’s available and be proactive in getting a grip on anxiety.

Photo credit: Alon

6 Tips to Manage Workplace Anxiety

Joe Wilner

Joe Wilner is a life coach, licensed clinical psychotherapist (LCP), and drummer from the band Yes You Are. He is also creator of You Have a Calling, a blog and online community helping people discover and pursue their life’s work and mission. Through deep and personalized coaching, he helps ambitious, creative, and spiritually minded individuals make a greater impact, grow as leaders, and design a soulful life they are inspired by.

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APA Reference
Wilner, J. (2017). 6 Tips to Manage Workplace Anxiety. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 28, 2020, from


Last updated: 1 Feb 2017
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