Workplace anxiety is as predictable as Monday morning. Try as we might to prevent it, anxiety will come. While some level of tension is to be expected, severe anxiety should not be the norm.
If left unchecked, it may cost you greatly in the form of missed opportunities, lack of promotion, reduced salary and even job loss. We all know the office can be a pressure cooker, but there proven strategies to keep yourself calm.
Let’s look at the most common workplace triggers and tackle them one by one:
Giving presentations and running meetings top the list of anxiety inducers. When all eyes are on you, the first step to keeping cool is to recognize that the adrenaline rush is normal. If you have adequately prepared, there is no reason to panic. Start with a humorous ice breaker or even admit that you are nervous. You will likely discover your peers are quite empathetic. Lastly, remember there is a reason you have been placed in the commanding position: You know your stuff.
Dealing with authority figures
Does the thought of asking your boss a question make your face flush? Studies show you are not alone. Most people have some anxiety when talking to a person who has the power to promote them or to fire them. Try to imagine your boss as a young professional early in his or her career. Remember, they also once walked in your shoes. Asking your boss for advice does not show weakness; it demonstrates wisdom. Chances are, your boss will be glad you asked and will be quite willing to share expertise and give direction.
There’s always that one…the coworker who just keeps pushing your buttons and seems to enjoy making your job miserable. Workplace bullying can cause significant stress. It’s not always overt abuse, like name calling, using offensive language or spreading malicious rumors. Sometimes the bullying is more subtle, coming in the form of teasing, social exclusion or withholding information. All of these things can result in an overwhelming feeling of public humiliation. The best way to tackle the office bully is to be assertive. Identify how you may be enabling and stop. Also, don’t be afraid to take your complaints to human resources and ask for help.
Tackling new challenges
New situations are an inevitable part of growing your skill set. Anxiety is natural when stepping into uncharted territory. The key is to admit your need to learn. Do the hard work required, and don’t be afraid to fail. It’s part of the growth process. Keep up with technology in your field and don’t hesitate to ask for training when needed. Once you’ve tackled a new challenge, your confidence will rise, helping you ward off other forms of workplace anxiety.
Much workplace anxiety is rooted in perfectionism. Striving for excellence is healthy, but perfectionism can be crippling. Ironically, your desire to achieve may actually hinder your career. Making one mistake, missing a deadline or disappointing a coworker does not mean you are a failure. If you suffer from perfectionism, treat yourself with a dose of realistic thinking. Remind yourself, “Making mistakes is human!” Everyone has a bad day sometimes; keep your focus on the big picture. Will this one mistake matter a month from now? More than likely it will not. However, it may actually help you learn, and that is what will advance your career in the long term.
Other proven anxiety busters include maintaining a healthy diet, exercising regularly, engaging in spiritual practices, laughing often, and talking things over with someone you trust. Don’t let workplace anxiety take you down. Tackle it head-on before it becomes debilitating.