I used to think I was a master procrastinator or a stereotypical Virgo that “worries a lot”. Until I was diagnosed with GED (Generalized Anxiety Disorder). Starting a new job, I quickly realized how my anxiety was affecting my performance and productivity. Even while writing this, I’ve got tremors, concentrating is HARD, my palms are sweaty and I’m convinced that I am going to get fired if this isn’t done by Friday! And if I don’t get fired, then something even worse will probably happen…or it won’t but you can never be too sure. You can see why learning to manage anxiety at work and in your general life is essential.
Ironically, I’m feeling anxious writing about being anxious. Anyways, you get the point! Anxiety sucks, and if you own a business or work for someone else, you know how it feels to be stressed. This means you’ve probably experienced anxiety to some degree. If you’ve experienced anxiety, you may have noticed how it affects your working life and productivity. We will cover what being anxious looks like and a few tips on how it can be managed in your work life.
According to Psychology Today, anxiety has two components, there are physical symptoms as well as cognitive. Some physical symptoms you may experience are:
Now that we have been through some of the ways that anxiety might affect your cognitive and physical functioning, are there any that you can apply these experiences you may have had or felt in your work environment? Are you nodding your head? We get you!
When you are feeling overwhelmed at work or having mental health issues, your functioning becomes impaired. Naturally, this anxiety will affect your work and your ability to get tasks done efficiently. You may be making more mistakes than usual, it could take you longer to complete a task or hit a deadline, communication with your coworkers may be more challenging, and doing daily tasks that you usually breeze through might feel impossible. This then increases anxiety and results in an intense fear of failure making you feel even more disengaged and unable to perform.
If you resonated with any of the above information then don’t worry (as everyone keeps saying). There are a few tips for you to try to manage your anxiety. The first step is recognizing your anxiety and accepting that it’s there but it doesn’t mean that your worth is any less or that you aren’t capable of performing. It’s just going to require you to be extra conscious of what’s happening internally.
Unfortunately, there may not be an actual trigger that you can link to your anxiety, it might just be there. This will all depend on your individual experience. A few triggers may be last-minute deadlines, a fear of coming across as incompetent which could result in an avoidance of communication, being late, presenting to clients, and feeling overwhelmed by your workload. Pay attention to when you feel particularly anxious at work and keep a log, this will help you identify if there is a pattern.
Be vulnerable! Sometimes that’s enough to make you anxious and spiral into a place where you worry about being judged or seen as weak, deemed incompetent, or even just making excuses for a lack of performance. But this is a very important part of making your relationships with your coworkers as functional as possible. Brene Brown says, “Vulnerability is having the courage to show up and be seen when we have no control over the outcome. Vulnerability is not weakness; it’s our greatest measure of courage.” You’ve got this!
Be vulnerable! Sometimes that’s enough to make you anxious and spiral. Following on from step 2, you may notice an instant change in communication with your coworkers. By combining steps 1 and 2, you may be more aware of what triggers your anxiety. Hopefully, this should allow you an opportunity to come up with solutions which then brings us to step 3. Communicate these strategies with your coworkers. Even better, discussing solutions with your coworkers which leaves little room for confusion or further challenges when communicating.
At Dawning Digital, we are lucky enough to be a team that recognizes anxiety and how it affects your work performance and productivity. Therefore we make a conscious decision to make mental health an absolute priority.
A few ways we do this is by encouraging each other to take time off work and to recognize when we are feeling overwhelmed. We can then provide a space where we can ask for support and communicate our needs. By making sure that our team has an opportunity to do this at least once a week with one-on-one calls to just check in, give feedback, and communicate any concerns. Our team finds that this creates an environment that is empathetic and genuinely supportive.
When your team is thriving mentally, then so will your business! If you would like to reach out to find out more about how we approach mental health at Dawning Digital, let us know in the comments.