How Work Anxiety Prevents You
From Achieving Your Potential

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9 Ways Work Anxiety Prevents You from Reaching Your Potential

Almost everyone feels nervous at work, especially when there are deadlines and big projects involved. However, when your anxiety levels prevent you from performing to your full potential, then that’s when they become a problem. 3 out of 4 employees in the modern workforce suffer from anxiety that interferes with their lives. Thus, if you think about it, a majority of the workforce remains untapped in terms of being able to offer their full productivity, focus and creativity!

As a working professional, you know that the slightest dip in your concentration can lead to catastrophic errors that may cause issues with not only your workflow, but also important client deliverables. Thus, it is important to understand everything you can about this debilitating disorder, and what you can do to manage the condition and improve your performance at work.

The signs and symptoms of anxiety you should watch out for!

Anxiety can lead to mild symptoms that sometimes feel normal to people who are used to them, along with much harsher symptoms that characterise anxiety attacks. Both can prevent you from applying yourself fully to any task at hand, leading to disastrous consequences for your career. Wit that in mind, you must keep an eye out for the following symptoms:

Symptoms of generalised anxiety:

  • Having trouble with concentrating on work
  • Feeling restless
  • Breathing rapidly
  • Increased heart rate
  • Having trouble falling asleep
  • Uncontrolled muscle twitching
  • Heavy sweating or increased sweating
  • A strong desire to avoid triggers

Symptoms of an anxiety attack: :

An anxiety attack is slightly different from generalised anxiety, in the sense that one feels an overwhelming sense of distress, fear, apprehension or worry that just doesn’t seem to go away. Individuals can go between having generalised anxiety and anxiety attacks when exposed to certain triggers, which is why it is not accurate to assume that if you only have the former, you are not prone to experiencing the later. Thus, you must keep in mind the following symptoms:

  • A panicky feeling, as though something terrible is about to happen
  • Feeling dizzy or very faint
  • Excessive sweating
  • Shortness of breath
  • High levels of fear
  • Tingling or numbness
  • Feeling overwhelming distress
  • Feeling apprehensive or worried
  • Having a dry mouth
  • Experiencing hot flashes and chills

  • Additionally, people who suffer from work anxiety also exhibit a few symptoms that are related directly to their workplace. Some of these are:

  • Overreacting to any situations that may crop up during the work day
  • An inability to complete tasks before specified deadlines
  • Being unable to concentrate on work
  • Focusing only on the negative aspects of the work
  • Always taking time off work because the environment is too stressful

What causes work anxiety?

When it comes to generalised anxiety, most researchers are unsure about the causes. Many experts believe that a combination of genetics (low serotonin levels or an overactive hypothalamus) and environmental factors (past abuse or traumatic childhood) contribute to the development of anxiety. Similarly, many also believe that there is a hereditary component to this disorder, with the children of those who suffer from anxiety being more prone to suffering from the same.

However, when it comes to work anxiety, there are a few specific causes that researchers have been able to identify in order to help individuals. Any one of the following causes (or a combination of two or more) can contribute to work anxiety:

  • Having impossible deadlines
  • Having a difficult boss
  • Inability to deal with work conflicts
  • Being asked to manage staff
  • Having a rocky relationship with coworkers
  • Receiving unclear direction regarding tasks
  • An inability to control the work environment
  • A hostile work environment
  • Having long working hours
  • Having a low work-life balance
  • Perceiving work events to be unfair
  • Receiving a low pay in return for a high workload

9 ways work anxiety prevents you from reaching your potential

Work anxiety can interfere with your professional performance, making it near-impossible for you to reach your full potential as a resource. The following are a few ways it prevents you from doing your best:

Reduced job performance:

To begin with, the lack of concentration and panicky feeling generally associated with anxiety can reduce your job performance tremendously. When you cannot focus on the tasks assigned to you, the likelihood of making mistakes and offering low-quality work becomes quite high. This can lead to a bad performance review, lower raises, and even an escalation if matters continue. Additionally, anxiety can also lead to fatigue, which can lead to an inability to hit targets the way you once did.

Unhealthy relationships with coworkers and bosses:

When you have anxiety, particularly anxiety at work, this can lead to strained relationships with your superiors and coworkers. This is especially true if your work anxiety also manifests as social anxiety, making it quite hard for you to form meaningful connections at work and network with important people. Unfortunately, networking is such an impactful tool in one’s career that even professionals that may not perform as well as you can be asked to accept promotions simply because they have better workplace visibility.

Turning down great opportunities:

In order to gauge how well different employees perform in different situations, managers offer a range of professional opportunities to people and evaluate the way they handle different challenges. Professionals that suffer from work anxiety find themselves turning down such opportunities as the idea of failing or not being able to meet certain criteria. As a result, managers form negative opinions about employees and believe that they lack the capabilities to handle larger products, even if this may not actually be the case.

Reduced confidence in abilities:

This particular impact is actually a part of a very vicious cycle – you may feel like you are unable to perform well due to your anxiety, which leads to a lack of performance and ultimately low confidence in your abilities. The cycle continues until you start to question whether you are a valuable asset to the company, either causing you to quit, or making you keep your head down in fear.

Avoiding innovation and creativity:

When you have anxiety related to your work place performance, it makes you less likely to take risks that pay off. The fear of failing stops you from being creative or innovative in your work, which eventually labels you as a regular mid-level employee that only sees limited growth. Stagnated growth can also increase your anxiety levels and also lead to the development of depression, making matters worse.

Developing poor planning skills:

Being able to plan your workflow in a way that ensures smoother productivity is a crucial skill that every employee needs to grow, irrespective of your position in the organisation. Anxiety reduces your ability to concentrate and think clearly, leading to a lot of time spent just thinking about what to do next, how not to fail, and worse case scenarios. As a result, your planning skills are not as strong as they should be, which proves to be detrimental to your career.

Feeling isolated:

Individuals who suffer from anxiety often end up isolating themselves from others in an effort to reduce their anxiety levels. This is especially true if your anxiety at work leads you to believe you are an imposter that does not deserve the designation you are at, as speaking to people may reveal you to be a fraud. Staying away from colleagues may seem like a good decision in the moment, but ultimately, it makes individuals feel more isolated and depressed, which enhances their anxiety even further.

Inability to function as a team:

Working professionals that suffer from work anxiety find it quite challenging to speak up in front of a group of people or be a part of a team. In most organisations, team work (or the ability to get along with colleagues) is a huge parameter for success. Thus, the inability to function as a team can lead to a poor evaluation at the hands of your superiors (as well as your peers), which can place many obstacles in your career. As most promotions come with leadership roles or management roles, employees with anxiety often find themselves being rejected for the same.

Losing the job:

Continually underperforming, losing concentration while working, feeling fatigued, and feeling worried each time you receive a new assignment can eventually lead to the loss of employment. In today’s fast-paced world, it is not practical to expect employers to give people multiple chances when they only display a lack of performance consistently. Receiving poor feedback and multiple warnings regarding performance can lead to your anxiety levels increasing, which will only make things worse for you. Seeking professional help and developing healthy coping mechanisms that can result in better performance and an easy management of the anxiety can be some of the best steps you take towards improving your career.

When should you seek help for work anxiety?

Many working professionals think that anxiety is a regular part of one’s work day. While a little bit of stress is a natural part of one’s career, work anxiety goes deeper than that and can impact your performance. If you experience the following, it means that you must get in touch with a professional hypnotherapist to seek help:

  • You feel as though you worry excessively about deadlines and the quality of your work, and this impacts your ability to deliver your work on time
  • Your anxiety and fear levels often cause you to feel distressed and you feel as though you cannot control them
  • You often turn to alcohol, drugs, or cigarettes to cope with your anxiety
  • You binge-eat to cope with your anxiety and have many snacks stored in your desk drawers
  • You feel as though your anxiety impacts your mental equilibrium and even suspect that you may have other mental health conditions that make it difficult for you to work
  • You have suicidal thoughts due to your low performance at work or are engaging in self-harm or suicidal behaviours - if you are experiencing this, then you must seek help immediately.

  • How to seek help for work anxiety?

    • Many working professionals do not admit that they feel like they are drowning, which is why the first step to seeking and getting help is actually admitting that you need it. Though this sounds like a cliché, it is a major step that helps your mind feel more open to listening to someone else and following the advice of a professional.
    • When it comes to anxiety, it is essential to identify the root causes behind the problem. A licensed hypnotherapist can help you explore your past and present to better understand why you feel the way you do. Once that is achieved, they can then help you address the problems with actionable steps and then move on from the anxiety.
    • Of course, this isn’t to say that anxiety is something that can be cured. In reality, anxiety can only be managed and treated, but one never truly says goodbye to it. Through hypnotherapy, you can identify your triggers and learn to rely on healthy coping mechanisms that help you face your fears and move ahead in your organisation.
    • As anxiety impacts your career in so many ways, it is important to acknowledge the fact that it is a real problem that demands a proper solution. Simply gritting your teeth and convincing yourself that you need to ‘toughen up’ isn’t the way to go about it! It only serves to make matters worse, leading to high levels of anxiety and frequent panic attacks too.
    • Instead of resorting to having a stiff upper lip, make sure that you get the help you need. Get in touch with a hypnotherapist today to understand how you can manage your work anxiety and have a successful career!

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Mend My Mind

Your Coach


Ronal Shah

Senior Coach

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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