Roughly three out of every four people with stress or anxiety in their life say that it interferes with their daily lives, and the workplace is no exception. Anxiety can affect performance at work, the quality of the work, relationships with colleagues, and relationships with supervisors. And if you have a diagnosed anxiety disorder, then these challenges may prove even more difficult.

People report that deadlines and dealing with difficult people are the biggest causes of work-related stress.1 Work anxiety also can increase when morale is low or when the office is presented with a unique challenge. When several people in the office are visibly affected by anxiety, the level of stress can almost feel contagious. People begin to miss more work, the quality of work goes down, and coworkers begin to gossip or vent rather than work together to solve problems.

Faced with work anxiety, some people may find themselves consuming more caffeine or alcohol or eating or smoking more. Therefore, the first step in managing work anxiety is building a personal wellness plan. If you’re getting adequate sleep, eating healthy, exercising, and engaging in social activities outside of work, then your odds for decreasing work place anxiety are much greater. In addition to seeking professional help to manage anxiety, there are many interpersonal strategies that can help lower overall anxiety in the office and help you stay calm, focused, and productive. Let’s take a look at a few.

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Know Everyone’s Name– Having a solid one-to-one relationship with people in the office makes it easier to address problems with the original individual rather than gossiping or venting to others. This starts by knowing people’s names and their responsibilities. If you forget a person’s name, don’t be embarrassed to ask again. It’s never too late to start building stronger relationships at the office.

Ask For Help – When work is hectic, it becomes all too easy to say “yes” even when you don’t understand how to do something. But the discomfort of asking for help or clarification is worth it in the long run, and it can decrease overall anxiety about responsibilities. Asking for help also communicates to your superiors that you genuinely care about doing a good job.

Set Honest Deadlines – Anxious people sometimes will agree to deadlines and timelines that they know they cannot meet. Often it’s better to be honest upfront than to apologize later. Not every deadline is negotiable, but it will save you hours of anxiety if you can be honest upfront and work at a manageable pace. And if you finish the job ahead of time, that will make you look even better.

Use Neutral Language – Learning to use neutral and calming language in the office can help bring everyone’s anxiety level down. Disagreements are more manageable when you begin a statement with, “Here’s what I’m thinking,” and end it with, “What are you thinking?” This lets people feel like they have input and makes them more likely to hear what you’re saying. Questions like, “What could we each do about this issue?” or “How could we prevent this from coming up in the future?” are also great for problem-solving.

Avoid Gossip – Office drama can be entertaining at times, but it ultimately makes the environment more stressful and lowers morale. Try changing the subject when people talk poorly of coworkers or the boss, or simply come up with a reason to leave the room. Don’t respond to texts or emails that seek to drag others down.

Encourage In-Person Conversations – It can be incredibly difficult to decipher emotions and intensions electronically. Much office anxiety comes from misinterpreting emails or waiting to hear back about a difficult subject. If an issue is making you particularly anxious, don’t be afraid to pick up the phone or have an in-person conversation to clarify things.

Access Resources – Many workplaces have offer counseling through employee assistance programs (EAPs) or can connect you to mental health resources in the community to help you manage anxiety. Though it may be intimidating to speak up about your anxiety, when you take responsibility for your wellness, you serve as a role model for others in the workplace.

When you build more solid relationships, improve communication, and ask for help, the entire office will benefit. Anxiety is always present to some degree in your daily life, but it doesn’t have to interfere with doing good work and enjoying your profession.

 

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Last Updated: Jul 25, 2017