Five Tell-Tale Signs Of Workplace Anxiety And What You Can Do About It


We can be anxious about so many things in our lives.  We get nervous for new things, for situations that are uncertain, for change. But our nervous intuition can also help tell us when something isn’t quite right. It’s important to identify these emotions and dig into the core reasons you might feel nervous or anxious at work. Here’s how to identify and understand what these emotions are telling you. 

hoe to be authentic at work, are you being yourself, showing up authentically
  1. You don’t feel like yourself. 

One of the best indicators of a great job fit for me is when I am being myself. I can make goofy jokes, I’m calm and comfortable enough to be my authentic self all the time. When that version of me packs up and retreats into the inner shell, it’s typically an indicator that something has gone awry. It may be a change in the greater company that begins this anxious behavior or a change in the day to day, but it’s a strong sign that there’s a problem. 

Instead of trying to fit in or please by being the person you think people want you to be, it’s better to examine why your personality has packed up and taken a hike. Why are you uncomfortable? Has someone said something that made you feel inadequate? In that case, the solution may be building up your own confidence or having a conversation with that person (who may not have intended to upset you at all). If it’s a larger issue such as a bad culture fit, it may be an indication to start looking for a new job or a new role in a different department. That feeling is important. Don’t dismiss it without reviewing it’s cause. 

  1. Every Sunday before the end of the weekend or before you walk into work, your heart rate changes.

It’s very possible you just need a vacation. I know when I have a huge list of things I need to get accomplished over the weekend, I can be anxious if I don’t get it all done. If an ever-growing to-do list is the cause of your anxiety, it may be helpful to take an extra day off around the weekend to get more time to accomplish the tasks you need to get through and feel ready for the work ahead of you at your job. 

If you’re anxious because of something happening at work, it’s important to identify what exactly is shaking your nerves and the timeline associated with it. For example, if you’re anxious because of a large upcoming project or a presentation you need to give, you can focus on preparing yourself to succeed at that task, ask for help where you need it and add some self care in your weekend before that task. If the anxiety is caused by a person at work, qualify the interactions. Do you work with this person often? Can you work around them? Are they directly responsible for your progression at work? Is the cause of the anxiety something you can talk with him/her about to settle the problem? These questions will help you determine if it’s possible to alleviate the anxiety or if it’s time to go. 

  1. You have bad dreams about work (whether it’s things that have happened or events that haven’t unfolded yet): 

This one is the worst for me. Everytime I start a new job, I have a dream about forgetting my locker combination in school. I’m not quite sure why, but perhaps, deep down, I might be worried that I won’t be prepared or that I won’t “remember” how to do the job. I know that those nerves are normal and that I desperately want to be successful so those feelings bubble into my dreams as anxiety. Check out what you’re dreaming about and if there are specific themes that keep coming up. Those might help point you to what is causing you to toss and turn all night.

  1. You worry about what your boss might say when you touch base.

This worry is rooted in uncertainty. You’re not sure if there is a surprise in what he/she might say in reviewing your performance. These nerves can be alleviated and handled by managing your manager.  Have a conversation about what your manager expects in your interactions and current projects and then make sure you reiterate your understanding of those expectations back. Follow up and check back in on your progress towards those goals and expectations using specific examples that show you are focused on improving and meeting those expectations. When you manage the expectations by communicating clearly with your boss, you alleviate the anxiety for what might happen in your meetings. 

  1. You worry about what other people in the office think of you – a lot!

This may be your “spidey sense” kicking in. Is there a lot of office gossip? Is it affecting the culture? Gossip is incredibly damaging as people usually know when people are talking about them and it makes everyone anxious. Depending on your workplace culture, this may be something you elevate to leadership or discuss directly with the person starting or spreading the gossip to try to bring the conversation to a positive and constructive place. In some cases, this may be an indicator that the culture isn’t a fit and it’s time to move on. 

If you are feeling anxiety about work, it’s critical that you review the root of the feeling so that you can address the issue. Your mental state is so important for your success and ability to focus. If your energy is being sapped by worry and you’re not sleeping because of anxiety, doing your job becomes harder to do effectively and accurately. These feelings aren’t just a bother, they are telling you something that needs attention. Dig into what is causing the emotions so you can move forward. 

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