How to Manage Anxiety in the Workplace

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What is Anxiety?

Anxiety is a natural human emotion that we all experience from time to time. It can be a normal reaction to stress and can even help us stay focused and motivated. However, when anxiety becomes intense or overwhelming, it can negatively impact our lives.  

In the workplace, anxiety can affect an employee’s performance as well as their overall wellbeing. Symptoms of anxiety include physical changes such as increased heart rate, sweating, tension headaches and muscle pain; psychological changes such as fear of failure, irritability, lack of concentration; and behavioural changes such as avoiding tasks or taking longer than usual to complete tasks. 

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Managing anxiety in the workplace is important for both employees and employers alike. Employers have an obligation to create a safe working environment for their staff, while employees may find it easier to cope with work-related stress if they are aware of how to manage their own feelings of anxiousness.  

Treatment for workplace anxiety will vary depending on the individual and the situation; however, there are generally two main approaches: cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) which focuses on changing negative thoughts or behaviours associated with anxieties; and mindfulness-based interventions which encourage people to develop awareness of their feelings in order to respond to them more effectively. Additionally, relaxation techniques such as deep breathing exercises can be beneficial in reducing symptoms associated with workplace anxiety.  

By creating a supportive environment at work where employees feel comfortable discussing anxiety issues openly with one another or appropriate professionals this will encourage more understanding between team members when it comes managing any stress related issues they may experience throughout their working day.

Why Work can Trigger Anxiety

Anxiety is a common mental health problem that can have a significant effect on people’s lives. For many, it is especially pronounced in the workplace. The pressures of the modern workplace – such as tight deadlines, ever-growing workloads, office politics and competition from colleagues – can be triggers for anxiety.  

The physical and emotional symptoms of anxiety can range from mild to severe. Symptoms may include elevated heart rate, poor concentration, sweating, insomnia, trembling or difficulty breathing. These physical symptoms are often accompanied by distressing emotions such as fear, panic or dread.  

It is important to recognise that anxiety in the workplace does not discriminate and it affects both employees and employers alike. As a result, it is essential for organisations to create an environment which minimises stressors that can trigger anxiety for staff members. Supportive initiatives like flexible working arrangements, meditation classes and regular check-ins with managers can help reduce stress levels in the long term and support employees who are struggling with anxiety in their roles.  

The cause of a person’s anxiety may not be related to work. It is important for organisations to provide appropriate support such as access to counselling services or employee assistance programmes (EAPs) that can support employees regardless of the root of their anxiety. These EAPs offer confidential advice around mental health problems so that workers feel comfortable seeking help if needed without judgement or stigma from colleagues or management.  

With strategies in place such as training, mental health policies and team initiatives, businesses can ensure their teams receive guidance on how best to manage anxious feelings so they don’t become unmanageable or interfere with job performance over time. 

Recognising Anxiety Building

The first step to recognising anxiety building is being aware of what anxiety is, and how it presents. Common signs of anxiety include difficulty concentrating, restlessness, irritability, changes in appetite or sleep patterns, and physical symptoms such as sweating or trembling. If any of these signs are recognised amongst staff members, the employer should investigate further and assess if the symptoms are indicative of an underlying mental health issue that requires professional help.  

Another way employers can identify if an employee is struggling with anxiety is through having supportive, non-judgemental conversations with them. Signs such as hesitating when speaking, speaking critically of themselves or avoiding eye contact, could suggest that the individual is feeling anxious during your conversation. Employers should never underestimate how powerful patience and a non-judgemental attitude can be in helping a person feel comfortable enough to express their thoughts and feelings.  

It’s also important for employers to remember that not all employees will react to stressors in the same way. Some people may express signs of high levels of anxiety more visibly than others, while some may mask their anxiety. This means it’s important for managers to be observant when monitoring employees’ behaviour and give everyone equal opportunities for expressing their concerns without judgement or discrimination.  

Finally, if employers do spot any indications of anxiety building amongst staff members they must support the individual to help manage it. This could involve introducing new policies such as flexible working hours or offering access to counselling services so that employees can get specialist help when needed.  

By taking proactive steps towards managing anxiety in the workplace and recognising early indicators of anxiety, employers will be better able to provide support and assistance when needed, leading to improved mental wellbeing amongst staff overall. 

Breathing Techniques for Anxiety

Breathing exercises are a simple yet effective way of managing anxiety in the workplace. Taking time to focus on your breathing can calm your stress response and reduce anxiety. Here we discuss some practical breathing techniques that can be used in the workplace: 

The 4-7-8 Breath is one of the most popular and widely practiced breathing exercises. This technique involves inhaling for four seconds, holding your breath for seven seconds, then slowly exhaling through your mouth for eight seconds. Repeat this cycle until you feel calmer and more relaxed. The 4-7-8 Breath helps slow down your heart rate and reduce feelings of stress and anxiety. 

Square Breathing, also known as Box Breathing, starts with inhaling for four counts while visualising a box with four sides; when you reach the fourth count, hold your breath for four counts while visualising the box’s second side; then exhale slowly for four counts while visualising its third side; finally hold again for four seconds while completing the fourth side of the imaginary box before starting again with another inhalation. 

Alternate Nostril Breathing is an ancient Ayurvedic practice designed to reduce anxious thoughts by calming both your mind and body. To do Alternate Nostril Breathing correctly, sit up straight with both hands on either side of your face – place your right thumb over your right nostril and inhale through your left nostril before releasing it with a strong exhale; repeat this cycle several times before switching sides – now place your right ring finger over your left nostril while inhaling through the opposite side, and so on.  

It’s important to remember though that no single solution works for everyone so it’s best to experiment with different techniques until you find one that works best for you!

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Mindfulness for Anxiety

Managing anxiety in the workplace can be a difficult but important task, and mindfulness can play an important role in helping to reduce anxiety and support mental wellbeing. Mindfulness is a form of meditation that encourages us to focus on the present moment with awareness. Practicing mindfulness helps to create a sense of calm, allowing us to observe and accept our thoughts and feelings without judgement.  

Mindfulness can be practiced in many different ways, from activities such as yoga or tai chi to more traditional forms of meditation. Many people find it helpful to attend group sessions or workshops focused on teaching mindfulness techniques, as this can provide guidance and support. There are also various online courses available for navigating mindfulness practice alone.  

The most important thing is to find a practice that feels right for you; try out different techniques until you find one that works best for managing your anxiety in the workplace. When feeling overwhelmed by anxious thoughts, take time out for yourself and use your chosen mindfulness technique as an opportunity to focus on the present moment and let go of any worries about the past or future.  

Regularly engaging with mindful activities can result in long-term improvements to your mental health, such as increased self-awareness and improved resilience when managing stress or anxiety. Taking part in mindful activities can also help to increase concentration levels during work tasks, boost creativity, improve memory recall – all essential skills when navigating life at work!  

At PMAC we offer professional training programmes designed specifically for businesses looking for ways to improve mental health within their workforce. Our expert team provide comprehensive advice on how employees can incorporate mindfulness into their daily lives, both at work and away from work. 

Seeking Support from your Line Manager

Managing anxiety in the workplace can feel daunting, but seeking support from others is important for resilience and wellbeing. Your line manager is an important person to speak to, as they can adapt your working environment to try and support and improve your mental health.   

Having a good relationship with your line manager can make it easier to ask for help when it comes to managing anxiety. Studies have found that employees who feel supported by their managers are more likely to express concerns about their mental health and receive support.  

Your line manager can also provide guidance on managing stressors in the workplace. Managers should be equipped with knowledge about how best to handle different types of situations involving mental health issues and be able to provide advice on coping strategies or other forms of support. It’s important for managers to create an environment where employees feel comfortable expressing any worries they have without fear of judgement or repercussion. 

It’s worth noting that there may be legal implications for employers if an employee discloses an anxiety-related issue at work, so it is important that employers respond appropriately. Employers need to make reasonable adjustments for employees who are struggling with their mental health, such as flexible working hours or providing access to counselling services in order for their employees to maintain their well-being while at work.  

Seeking support from your line manager when managing anxiety in the workplace is important for managing and overcoming your anxiety. With support from others, anxiety can become much more manageable over time, allowing you to focus on personal resilience rather than feeling overwhelmed by symptoms of distress or worry. 

The Importance of Self-Care After Work

In order to effectively manage anxiety in the workplace, self-care is essential for employees to stay healthy and resilient.  

Self-care can take many forms, from getting enough sleep and taking regular breaks during the day to eating a balanced diet and engaging in activities outside of work. By focusing on these activities, individuals can reduce levels of stress and anxiety both at work and in their home life. Additionally, improving physical wellbeing can help keep your body healthy as well as your mind. Regular exercise, such as running or yoga, can be beneficial for managing anxiety by reducing stress hormones and releasing endorphins which improve mood.  

It’s also important to recognise when extra help or support is needed. Talking therapy is available through the NHS or privately for those who feel they need it. Practicing mindfulness-based techniques such as deep-breathing exercises or meditation can also be extremely effective in managing anxiety symptoms, especially if practised regularly over time. Taking time away from work – whether it’s a few hours or several days -can be greatly beneficial for mental wellbeing too; taking a break from daily life can help clear one’s head so that fresh ideas can form.  

Finally, engaging with like-minded individuals through social activities such as clubs or classes is an excellent way to build meaningful relationships; having strong support networks has been linked to improved mental health outcomes. Thinking positively about yourself and life events you go through is also essential for managing anxiety – try not to be too hard on yourself! With the right approach to self-care after work, employees can feel better equipped to manage their mental health needs at work too. 

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