Dealing With Social Anxiety In The Workplace

People suffering from an anxiety disorder are well aware that work-related stress can significantly magnify the ill effects associated with anxiety and adversely impact various aspects of their daily work causing difficulty with work-related tasks and their relationships with superiors and peers.  Sometimes, even a positive situation like a promotion with potential financial gain or career escalation is sacrificed because of a genuine fear of what might come attached to such milestones such as an increase traveling, public speaking requirements or leadership responsibilities.

Even if you do not suffer from an anxiety disorder, a bad day at work can evoke the same fear, irritation, and unhappiness that a person with chronic anxiety constantly endures. A serious conflict with a partner or news that you did not receive the pay rise you expected could prevent you from getting much work done.  While many of us can overcome these setbacks and go back to our normal routines, those with an anxiety disorder grapple with their anxieties on a daily basis.  They have to make a concerted effort to keep their occasional panic attacks under control and deal with symptoms such as physical pain, hyperventilation or a momentary lapse of memory.

While it is tough for a person who suffers from an anxiety disorder, many people have been able to overcome the crippling effect of anxiety, maintain a steady performance in their jobs and progress in their careers.  Some have actually come to view their chronic anxiety in a positive light as it has allowed them to reflect deeply on their condition and learn to bring it under control and maximize their potential to fulfill their aspirations and desires. Some of these practices are quite logical and easily undertaken, but oftentimes many anxiety sufferers do not realize their true potential.

Here is a list of five tips that work wonders for employees with anxiety disorders:

1. Learn more about your condition

Many people with anxiety merely accept that they have a general condition without finding out more about it. In order to control your anxiety, you must have a thorough understanding of how it affects you as an individual.  Knowing what triggers it, when it is likely to kick in, and how it impacts your behavior and performance can help you to pre-empt when these attacks will take place and what you can do to manage or redirect your feelings and emotions.

2. Communicate it

Anxiety is a common phenomenon and there is nothing to be ashamed of.  While it is easy to spot a person with physical disabilities, psychological conditions are largely undetectable and no one will know of the mental anguish or trauma a person might be going through if it is not communicated.  If a person’s condition or suffering goes unnoticed, oblivious colleagues might worsen the situation or trigger a breakdown that could have easily been avoided had their condition been known.  If you are not comfortable talking about your condition, you could select those who are trustworthy or closest to you, perhaps your direct superior, subordinates or a trusted co-worker. People are generally understanding and would like to help. If necessary, it might even be beneficial to seek professional help such as seeing a psychologist or psychotherapist.

3. Time Management

One of the triggers for a panic attack is a lack of control. If you cannot cope with your schedule or complete your tasks on time, you are more likely to feel anxious.  It is very important to spend a few minutes at the beginning of each day to set yourself a realistic schedule for the day.  It would surprise you how much a realistic schedule can help you to be focused and manage your time well thus reducing the chances of an anxiety attack.

4. Plan and organize

Whatever you can take off your mind and transfer to a piece of paper or your cell phone’s organizer, do it. Nothing triggers anxiety more than having a stream of unorganized thoughts on your mind, such as tasks to complete, ideas you want to propose, or meetings you need to attend.  A lot of hassle can be avoided if you list everything down because then you know you do not need to worry about forgetting or losing your thoughts or ideas. You should do the same with any new ideas you think are worthy of consideration.

5. Draw clear lines

One thing that many people with an anxiety disorder grapple with is that their thoughts are always occupied with work and the workplace.  That is because they do not set clear boundaries.  They finish work and then go home bringing all their job’s worries and concerns with them.  When you leave for the day, leave anything work-related back at the office and pick up where you left off the next day or when you are back at work. The clarity of mind that comes from starting each day fresh serves as a sure protection from anxiety. You tend to handle your work concerns more efficiently after having spent some time not thinking or worrying about them.


 Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash