Let’s get one thing straight – when it comes to work, expecting a smooth sailing ride to the top right off the bat is completely unrealistic, especially if you’re just starting out. On the contrary, it’s natural to go through some periods of stress, experience some nerve-wrecking moments, and have a few sleepless nights. This is a typical level of anxiety that most people go through from time to time. However, for some people, their level of work anxiety is so overwhelming that it gets to the point of hindering them.
And this is becoming more common. According to a Cigna 360 Well-Being Survey executed in 2019, a staggering 92 per cent of working Singaporeans are stressed. This is eight per cent higher than the global average of 84 per cent. Most of them attributed the source of their stress to work, with 13 per cent saying that their stress is unmanageable. Not being able to manage stress may lead to difficulty in meeting deadlines at work, socialising with their co-workers and keeping their emotions in check.
Before it gets to that point for you, it’s important to find ways to manage your work anxiety. Different people manage their anxiety in different ways, but start small with the following tips and see if they work for you.
What is work anxiety?
First, let’s identify what work anxiety is. As the phrase implies, work anxiety can refer to stress at the workplace, which leads to anxiety. It can also refer to having a pre-existing anxiety disorder affecting your work. In both cases, work anxiety, if left unchecked, can and will lead to negative effects for not just you as the employee, but the company as well.
It can be deceptively easy to wave off as regular stress or just ‘having a bad day’, but anxiety is very much a real thing that can affect you. According to the Anxiety & Depression Association of America, “anxiety disorders are real, serious medical conditions — just as real and serious as physical disorders such as heart disease or diabetes.”
With that being said, it’s important to know how to differentiate it from the everyday stressors of life. For example, feeling nervous before giving a presentation is normal, expected even. But if your anxiety constantly gets in the way of your daily tasks and life – from eating and sleeping well, to socialising with your loved ones and keeping your emotions in check – then you need to do something about it.
Start with yourself
One way to boost your mental health is to start with your physical well-being. Mental and physical health are closely linked – taking good care of one can help to improve the well-being of the other.
Of course, just mentally willing yourself to ‘just stop being anxious’ isn’t going to work – it’s more likely to make things worse! Instead, note down a list of healthful things you can physically do and carry them out, even if it means forcing yourself to get them done.
Work on your desk
Whether it’s at your company office in the middle of CBD, or your home office in the outskirts of Woodlands, having a desk that you absolutely love to be at can help you feel slightly less depressed to work on that dreaded Monday morning.
Start by keeping your workstation neat and tidy. Clutter generally makes you lose precious minutes as you look for that elusive PDF file or document, making you feel even more stressed out and anxious.
Managing workplace environment
According to clinical psychologists, re-entry anxiety can occur when people experience higher levels of anxiety and stress in response to being out of the house to return to the workplace and socialise. If you’re already experiencing WFH anxiety, re-entry anxiety may make it worse. This may lead to people being more reluctant to socialise, from making excuses to get out of staff lunches, to even dreading meetings with their co-workers.
While there’s no sure-fire way to quickly get yourself into your pre-pandemic state of mental well-being, there are some steps you can take to try to handle your anxiety and ease your state of mind.
Depending on your situation, these tips may not be able to eliminate your anxiety completely. If you feel like you need additional help, don’t hesitate to reach out to a certified counsellor. There are helplines available for you to talk to someone who is able to help you. Remember, you’re not alone in this. Work anxiety is a lot more common than you think, and many of your own peers are likely going through the same situation behind closed doors. As long as you seek help to manage your anxiety, this can simply be a minor bump in your road to success.