You are not alone if you are feeling stressed or anxious at work. As a recovering careeraholic living with multiple mental health challenges (generalized anxiety disorder, OCD, and PTSD), I have experienced more than my fair share of anxiety at work. And as a career coach, learning to effectively manage workplace anxiety is one of the biggest challenges I hear from workers.
So how do you manage workplace anxiety? When should you tell your boss about anxiety at work? How do you know when it’s time to take a break from work to take care of your mental health? While every situation is unique, below are four tips to calm your nerves.
How To Manage Workplace Anxiety
1. Release the negative energy.
First, you want to find avenues for releasing all your pent-up workplace anxiety. One of my favorite techniques for doing this is called “Hot Potato,” courtesy of my therapist, Stephanie. You begin by imagining a hot potato being randomly placed in your hands. What would you do? You’d probably drop it! Now, visualize yourself dropping negative energy the same way. I enjoy this activity because it not only helps the stress fade away, but also makes me laugh, which is an incredible anecdote for anxiety.
2. Reflect on the benefits of anxiety.
Next, try reflecting on all the benefits of workplace anxiety. Yes, living with anxiety is frustrating and at times downright exhausting, but positively reframing anxiety has allowed me to see that anxiety has its advantages, too. For example, I appreciate how anxiety has propelled me, in part, to excel in my career, my business, and my life. Additionally, I am very empathetic and incredibly skilled at crafting avant-garde solutions for problems because of my anxiety. Carve out some time to make a list of how anxiety has benefited you in work and in life.
3. Consider talking to your supervisor.
Depending on the severity of your work-related anxiety, you may find it helpful to speak with your boss about how you are feeling, as well as how they can support you in managing your mental health. However, before disclosing workplace anxiety to your boss, reflect on how your supervisor has responded to sensitive topics in the past. Additionally, know that there is no right or wrong decision when it comes to the decision and process of self-disclosing your mental health. At the end of the day, you must find a level of disclosure that works for you and your unique situation.
4. Take a break from work, if needed.
Finally, ask yourself whether you need to take some time away from the office to address your mental health and recover. This may look like an extended lunch, an afternoon off, or a three-day weekend. In other cases, you may need a multi-week or multi-month break to begin to recover from the anxiety you are experiencing at work. Notably, many employers offer mental health leave, which provides you pay while you are on leave, as well as protections against being laid off.
These are just a few tips to support you in managing anxiety at work. The key is to find what works for you and your mental health. You’ve got this!