Almost everyone deals with work-related stress at some point during their careers. Frustrating co-workers, performance evaluations and big presentations can all cause understandable worry.
Normal work stress passes, leaving you capable of carrying on in a more-or-less relaxed state of mind. When stress persists for long stretches of time, however, it may cross into unhealthy territory.
Anxiety disorders affect around 40 million U.S. adults every year, and those affected commonly report experiencing problems with anxiety at work. Anxiety may cause stomachaches and headaches, difficulty breathing and problems focusing, among other physical and psychological symptoms.
Though people with anxiety disorders are protected from job discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), anxiety can still interfere with work performance. Sometimes, work can even be a primary cause of anxiety symptoms.
If work anxiety is interfering with your life, you don’t need to suffer through it alone. A mental health professional can help you manage your symptoms and feel better.
However, if you’re not sure whether you’re suffering from work anxiety, there are a few warning signs you can look out for. Here are four symptoms of work anxiety, along with some tips you can use to start treating them now.
1. You Dread Going to Work
If you wake up every morning dreading going into the office, it’s a good sign something isn’t quite right. The same goes for weekends — your Sundays should be spent relaxing, not worrying about what the work week will bring.
Reevaluating your work situation and seeking treatment for anxiety can help alleviate the dread you feel. But, if you want to start treating this symptom immediately, you may find it useful to create a positive association with going to work.
Try making the mornings before you head off a calming and joyful experience. For example, you may try meditating, making yourself a delicious, healthy breakfast or spending time listening to your favorite music or podcast during your commute. By taking care of yourself and starting your day with something you enjoy, you may be able to relieve some of the anxiety you feel before going to work.
2. You’re Constantly Tired
Constant fatigue can be a symptom of anxiety, but it can also be a sign you’re overworking yourself. Feeling tired all the time can put a damper on your mood and make getting through the workday a struggle.
To prevent the anxiety that comes along with being exhausted, it’s a good idea to take steps to combat fatigue. Aim to get at least eight hours of sleep every night, even if you work an odd schedule.
If you experience insomnia as a result of your anxiety, take steps to mitigate the issue by creating a relaxing evening routine that cuts you off from your work and screen time. Baths, essential oils and herbal teas like chamomile can help your body unwind.
You could also consider taking melatonin supplements to help your body recognize it’s time to go to bed. Just make sure to consult with your doctor first.
3. You Always Feel Behind
Always feeling like you’re behind on work can cause a lot of stress, especially if you work under tight deadlines. If you feel like you can’t keep up, you may push yourself to work late hours all the time. Working too much can become unhealthy, so to relieve anxiety, you may need to lighten your workload.
If you think you’re being stretched too thin, talk to your supervisor about how you feel. They may be able to accommodate you by adjusting your schedule or assigning you fewer projects.
Also, don’t feel afraid to request time off and turn down extra projects and overtime. If you want to be effective at your job, you need to take care of yourself first.
4. You Bring Work Home With You
A common symptom of work anxiety is never being able to leave work where it belongs. Ideally, when you’re off the clock, you should be able to clear your mind of work. But if you constantly find yourself thinking or talking about work while at home, it could be both uncomfortable and unhealthy.
Luckily, you can take steps to unwind at the end of the day and create healthy barriers between your work and personal lives. Set a time to set work aside, avoid checking your work email at home and schedule time with friends and family.
You may also benefit from pursuing a hobby, doing exercise such as yoga or getting outside. Whatever you choose, make sure you make time for the things you enjoy.
Anxiety can make work feel like a drag, but you don’t have to accept work anxiety as part of your life. By reaching out for help and using productive coping strategies, you can alleviate stress and put work anxiety back in its place.
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