Overcome Workplace Anxiety

By Amy Lemley

Feeling stressed out by deadlines, assignments, difficult coworkers, and fear of job loss is common in today’s often frantic work environment.

But how do you handle anxiety when it becomes so crippling that you avoid the situations that cause your symptoms?

Millions of workplace anxiety sufferers choose to ignore assignments, call in sick, or clam up during meetings and seldom answer the phone or return calls.

“Getting out of something” may seem like a relief in the short term. But making it a habit can have significant long-term consequences for your career when supervisors, colleagues, and clients will realize they can’t count on you. Your physical health is affected too: Headaches, high blood pressure, gastrointestinal issues, and insomnia are among the 70% of medical visits attributed to stress.

Workplace Anxiety Defined

Obviously, no one enjoys feeling nervous. Obsessive worry, nausea, stammering, blushing, sweating, clammy hands, a racing pulse—these symptoms of anxiety are enough to make a lot of people feel like heading for the parking lot.

Why do these symptoms occur? Because of the fight-or-flight response—your brain’s signal to choose whether to stick around and wrestle with the saber-tooth tiger or high-tail it out of there. The adrenaline that flows is fuel for our action. It is a good thing!

Of course, few of us deal with tigers in the office. Yet that response still occurs when we confront a challenge. And somewhere along the way, you may have linked that feeling of adrenaline energy with embarrassment or shame. So you trained yourself to avoid situations that increase your adrenaline.

Avoidance is addicting. Get out of doing something—making a presentation, taking the lead on a project, interacting with a difficult client—and you will begin to look for ways to get out of other things. Avoid the situation that makes you anxious, and be anxiety-free, right?