Working With Anxiety
Mental health issues are becoming more widely recognised in the workplace but there are still steps that can be taken to help people manage them. One of the most common mental health issues reported in the workplace is anxiety.
A lot of the time, people try to write off anxiety as ‘stress’ or ‘worry’ but there is a significant difference between the three. Whilst all three can disrupt your workday, stress and worry tend to be reactions to changes or persistent thoughts about uncompleted tasks. Anxiety is a combination of these feelings and will usually turn something small into a much larger problem.
So, how can we deal with anxiety in the workplace?
It’s no secret that communication is key in any successful workplace but sometimes it can be misunderstood. Good communication is not just telling people they can be open but actively encouraging them to be. Sometimes it can be intimidating for employees to be honest with their higher-ups if said higher-ups come across as unapproachable. Managers and team leaders can address worries over anxiety head-on by explaining that employees can always be honest about anything they are struggling with.
The workplace needs to feel like a safe place where people can voice their concerns or worries. Conflict cannot be completely avoided but there are positive ways to approach it. When people with anxiety are confronted with conflict, they could either lash out in defence or shut down and not take anything on board. Keeping the conversation constructive and taking time to ask questions to make sure employees understand can help this.
People have a strong want to belong so forming bonds will also help to create a supportive environment. Struggles can even bring people together by allowing them to vent or even laugh about something that could have felt like the end of the world. Managers and team leaders don’t need to pry into the lives of their employees. But, taking time to talk about something other than work can be encouraging.
Privacy should be respected but anxiety does not have to be this big secret. This could cause people to feel shame around the issue and be even less likely to speak up. Tumultuous relationships could be created among co-workers and this would lead to an unwelcoming work environment that will contribute to the problem.
Feeling ‘burnt out’ can be a common feeling when dealing with anxiety and sometimes it’s a wave we just have to ride. However, there are things that can help ease this or ideally stop it from becoming a frequent feeling. Firstly, we all have to accept that we are only human. We need to recognise and accept that we make mistakes and use them to learn instead of punishing ourselves. Everyone has their limits and there is nothing wrong with asking for help from time to time.
It can be difficult for people with anxiety to speak up if they don’t understand a task. Team leaders can check back with their employees and give them opportunities to say if they are unclear about anything. Break down these tasks into more manageable pieces. This helps with the feelings of being overwhelmed. Having an understanding of where your career path is heading can also ease anxiety. It will stop the feeling that you are missing out on something else.