Work Anxiety - A Deep Dive

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Why Do I Feel Anxious at Work? A Deep Dive into Work Anxiety

Few people on this earth are completely happy. We always have something to worry about or stress over. Anxiety is quite a normal part of life and can be due to some fears, a trauma, while some may experience social anxiety.

Work anxiety

has no purpose except to boost the intake of antidepressants. Many people suffer from this problem in their career life, which negatively affects productivity and can make your life miserable.

Work anxiety

is a form of anxiety that makes people feel anxious, stressful, or nervous at work. Every one in four Americans claims work to be a cause of stress while 602,000 workers were found to be dealing with work anxiety in the UK in a recent survey. Though not all stress is bad. In some situations, adequate worry can motivate people to achieve their goals by boosting the productivity level, but moderate and excessive stress can have severe consequences on a person’s mental and physical health, physical appearance, and output at work.

Anxiety related to work is increasing globally. This not only affects the health of an individual but also affects the organization’s level of productivity. The anxiety can have many causes like the relationship with coworkers, organization’s environment, deadlines, job demands, etc. Work anxiety can be identified through its different symptoms.

Signs and Symptoms of Work Anxiety

Every person is different and shows different signs for different disorders. It is not necessary that everyone shows the same or all the possible symptoms. Some people may be impacted by all the possible symptoms, while others would just be affected by a few. Work anxiety or work-related stress can be seen in people physically, psychologically, and behaviorally.

Physical Symptoms

Most people think that stress can have its impact mentally, but few people know about the effects that stress puts on physically. It affects the digestive system, aids dermatological disorders like hair loss, and many others. The most common physical signs of work-related anxiety are:

  • Gastrointestinal problems like diarrhea or constipation

  • Abnormal heart rate

  • Insomnia and in some cases, sleeping excessively

  • Fatigue or tiredness

  • Headaches

  • Muscle tension

  • Hair loss, eczema, and other dermatological disorders

  • Sweating

  • Shaking

  • Dizziness

  • Nausea

  • Unable to concentrate

  • Weight loss or weight gain

  • Feeling a lump in the throat

  • Dry mouth

Psychological Symptoms

Anxiety sends signals to the brain. These signals make your body go haywire, and the impact not only affects physically but also psychologically. The most common psychological symptoms of work anxiety that a person shows are:

  • Inability to make decisions

  • Inability to concentrate

  • Depression

  • Irritability

  • Feeling negative about everything

  • Inability to cope up with work

  • Feeling discouraged all the time

  • Worrying persistently

  • Memory loss

Behavioral Symptoms

When your brain is in constant pressure, it disturbs a person in all fields of life. It makes a person vulnerable. The behavioral symptoms caused by work anxiety are:

  • Anger and aggression

  • Maintaining distance from people

  • Getting addicted to drugs and alcohol

  • Eating very little or too much

  • Delaying work or becoming irresponsible

  • Nervous behaviors such as biting nails and fidgeting

  • Mood swings

  • Relationship problems

  • Frustration

  • Lack of patience

  • Lack of interests

Causes of Work-related Anxiety

The Labour Force Survey (2009/10-2011/12) states workload (44%), too much pressure of responsibility, and strict deadlines to be the leading causes of work anxiety. Lack of support made 14%, threat and bullying made 13% while other causes made about 21%.

The general practitioners' network (THOR-GP 2013-2015) also agrees with the Labour Force Survey in this regard. There are many other factors, though, that cannot be neglected. Some of the factors that constantly make you feel anxious are:

  • Lack of support from management

  • Work environment

  • Job demands

  • Organization’s culture

  • Relationship with coworkers

  • Change of management

  • Trauma

  • Relationship with partner

  • Moving home

  • Miserable living standards

  • Family problems

  • Changing jobs

  • Harassment

  • Discrimination

  • Improper resources and equipment

  • No or few opportunities

  • Less salary

  • Genetic (yes, anxiety is unquestionably genetic)

  • Use of drugs and alcohol

  • Certain mental or physical conditions

  • Gender, women have a greater ratio of getting impacted than men.

Work Anxiety and Gender

A 2019 UK based study statistics show that women are more likely to suffer from work-related anxiety than men. The study was conducted in the age ranges of 25-54 years.

Women have a higher rate of getting stressed, and that could possibly be because of the different brain chemistry and hormonal levels. Moreover, women go through reproduction, which is also a leading cause of hormonal fluctuations resulting in higher anxiety levels. Sexual abuse and male-dominant culture are also some leading reasons behind female anxiousness.

Men and women also react differently when it comes to dealing with anxiety. Women tend more towards anxiety management programs than men. They indulge in social activities, like making friends and spending time with them. They also participate more in religious activities than men. While men prefer to play sports, they also misuse substances and go towards sex to relieve stress.

Effects of Work Anxiety

How can it be expected that anything that affects you will not have any effects on you? Work anxiety can have severe effects on your life, not only inside and outside your workplace but also inside and outside yourself. Around 72% of people claim that work-anxiety handicaps their daily lives.

A 2006 study found that 30% of people took medication to manage work-related stress, nervousness, and emotional issue, while 28% experienced panic attacks. A study published in 2010 found that depressed workers lost 27 workdays per year while another 2006 study found sufferers to experience poor work-life balance.

Anxiety Disorders Accompanying Work-Related Anxiety

Anxieties can be of various kinds. A person can have many triggers of stress at the same time. It cannot be the case that if a person suffers from one kind of anxiety, he cannot go through another. People suffering from work-related anxiety can also suffer from any of the following anxiety disorders.

  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

  • Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)

  • Panic disorder

  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)

  • Specific phobias

Diagnosis of Work Anxiety

Anxiety is not an objective thing that can be diagnosed by examining blood under the microscope. Though a thorough physical examination may be required via different blood tests and urine tests to find out if other medical conditions exist, anxiety can be diagnosed by consulting a mental health professional.

Hormonal imbalances, caffeine or alcohol consumption, drug abuse, menopause, and diabetes, etc. can show symptoms similar to anxiety. Once all the possible conditions are ruled out, then a statement can be made about the person being suffered from anxiety.

Levels of Anxiety

A person’s general level of anxiety is a fairly stable personality trait or a significant component of temperament. Everyone varies in the personal hotspot from time to time but returns to the resting place. It is like, “Law of Conservation of Anxiety” for human nature. What makes everyone have their own anxiety level? In part, because everyone experiences and responds to the world differently. Anxiety is very subjective: What’s really stressful to one person may hardly matter to another. It is not as simple as having the capability of sliding small matters aside. People who are dispositionally anxious, see more things as stressful than less anxious people. This all leads to one question: What makes everyone psychologically different? The only answer, of course, is that each human has a distinct brain. While the structure of the brain is similar and functions similarly, but they are wired differently in subtle, microscopic ways that make every individual different. These differences come about because of the unique combination of genes people get from their parents and what people encounter in their lives. Nature and nurture are two aspects that partner together in making people who they are. The different levels of anxiety are mild, moderate, and severe, and are the same for work anxiety. Each one disturbs your life and productivity levels on some accounts.

Mild Anxiety

Ever experienced butterflies in your stomach in small daily life stuff? This is mild anxiety. It makes you fearful and confuses you in certain situations. But this anxiety is not always bad. This kind of anxiety can usually help people finish their tasks more effectively. This increases the level of concentration and alertness.

Moderate anxiety

is no different than mild anxiety levels. It just appears with some overwhelming symptoms like sweaty palms, back pain, shaky voice, muscle tension, and sleep disturbance. This level of anxiety can make you lose your focus from everything around except for the stuff that is making you anxious. It may not affect your productivity, but it can affect your mental condition.

Severe Anxiety

This is the highest level of anxiety and handicaps you from thinking rationally. It occurs with more anxiety signs and symptoms like irritability, aggression, mood swings, gastrointestinal problems, heavy breathing, and many others. If the case of severe anxiety becomes persistent, then medical advice and therapies are promptly needed.

Managing Your Work Anxiety

There are a few approaches you can use to assist yourself in dealing with your nervousness regarding work. Realize that nervousness at work can be communicable, so attempt to avoid individuals who exacerbate you; the more, the better.

Take things lightly and converse with somebody on the off chance that you are feeling restless or anxious. Adopt self-improvement strategies to assist you with quieting down and look for proficient assistance if work tension is meddling with your everyday life both at work and at home.

Some methods like spree drinking, binge eating, drug abuse, and excessive use of caffeine would do no good to your body. Avoid adopting these unhelpful techniques. Here are a few techniques you can take a stab at during and after your workday to help with your uneasiness:

  • Take mid-day breaks and have supper with others outside of your work zone.

  • Be sure to set aside a few minutes for yourself away from work.

  • Go for strolls outside on your breaks whenever the situation allows.

  • Imagine what you dread will occur and ask yourself whether it is a silly dread.

  • Have motivational paintings as work to escape an overwhelming state.

  • Find things that make you chuckle and grin.

  • Don’t try to impress and set honest deadlines.

  • Avoid gossiping at work

  • Think and take time for life outside of work, for example, side interests and companions.

  • Credit the beneficial things on your work and your life.

  • Regular exercise is also one of the most successful strategies that not only keep you physically healthy but also improves your mood and productivity levels.

  • Explore programs that support wellbeing and promote relaxing exercises like breathing exercises, yoga, meditation, and muscle relaxing. Indulge regularly in such activities.

  • Talk to your health care practitioner and tell him about how stress is affecting your work or your work is making you stressed.

  • Opt for a job that you enjoy.

  • However, these are tips and techniques that would work for mild anxiety or sometimes with moderate anxiety, but when it comes to persistent moderate anxiety and especially severe anxiety, consultation with a mental health professional or a coach or hypnotherapist for work anxiety is necessary.

    Counseling or Therapy for Work Anxiety

    Though there are many ways through which stress can be managed by your own self. But sometimes, when the situations get worse or severe, then counseling is a very standard method of treatment. Therapy has proved to be more effective than treatment options like medications. Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience states that 19.6% of people who received treatments for anxiety, were treated psychologically. Therapy not only helps recover the symptoms but also helps to identify and work on underlying causes. The most commonly used strategies are Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Exposure Therapy. These therapies can either be conducted solo or can be combined with other therapy types.

    Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

    This is the most commonly used therapy for work-related anxiety or any other kind of anxiety. The name already leads to the main idea behind this therapy. The therapy includes two parts. Cognitive therapy and behavior therapy.

    Cognitive therapy

    helps to identify negative, dreadful, or irrational thoughts and replace them with positive ones by challenging these thoughts. The strategic approach is taken by most therapists for achieving results.

    Behavior therapy

    is adopted for examining behavior towards anxiety triggers.

    Exposure Therapy

    Exposure therapy is one of the successful ways that help people recover their fears. During the treatment, a sufferer is exposed to situations that he will possibly panic in, and then he is taught how to deal with those situations. The strategy is also followed by making the subject imagine difficult situations. This therapy is either conducted alone or is simultaneously followed by cognitive behavior therapy.


    Hypnotherapy is used as an alternative treatment option for anxiety related to work. PSIWORLD 2012 Hypnosis in the Treatment of Patients with Anxiety Disorders carried out a study to show how much important role hypnosis plays in the treatment of anxiety disorders. Hypnosis encourages the mind to be relaxed and focused. The steps include calm breathing with closed eyes and then visualizing the issues you deal with. In the subconscious state of mind, it helps you analyze your problems deeply. Once the level of hypnosis is reached, then the therapist may ask you to identify your anxiety and relaxes your mind to deal with them. This therapy is helpful in changing the person’s perception towards the cause. This treatment is also helpful in inspecting any past abuses that a person has gone through. Getting to know the root cause of stress can lead to a speedy recovery. A 2016 study showed hypnosis to be an excellent source of anxiety treatment as it allows the person to be more open towards the discussion, get focused, get control over their physical and emotional being, and achieve a life situation where the person is less self-conscious. Another study in the British Medical Journal in 2001 also found that hypnotherapy shaped positive results for individuals suffering from different categories of anxiety.


    Persistent or chronic work-related anxiety can have severe outcomes if not treated. It can make your life miserable and can lead you towards many chronic diseases and relationships and family problems.

    People can have different levels of anxiety, and women are more likely to get stressed out than men. Many strategies can be opted to manage stress. Counseling and hypnotherapy also lead the list of strategies that people can follow to bring out positive changes. If you are one who is suffering from work anxiety due to any reason, make sure to reach out to a professional and seek help for your problem.

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Ronal Shah

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Ronal is fully dedicated to powering you forward to achieving your ambitious goals. He trained listeners at the Samaritans to help callers in desperate, often suicidal, situations to move onwards and upwards with their lives. Prior to coaching, Ronal was General Manager at a mid sized company helping his staff get over their internal barriers and get massive results. Born in London, he has lived and worked all over the world, including Japan, Netherlands and the US. He is a Master Hypnotist.


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