July 29, 2022

Is Your Anxiety Affecting Work Performance?

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Medicially Reviewed By:
Dr. Priya Chaudhri
credentials here

When anxiety ramps up, it can affect your health, your relationships, and your quality of life. But is your anxiety also affecting work performance? It very well could be.

Anxiety symptoms can cause spillover effects, and that can impact your job performance. Read on to learn more about anxiety disorder, and how it can affect your work.

Facts About Anxiety Disorder

Anxiety disorder is the most common mental health disorder in the U.S. In fact, about one in five adults will struggle with this disorder each year.

There are six types of anxiety disorder. When you have anxiety, a situation or event will trigger a cascade of symptoms, each type has its own features. The particular type of anxiety disorder involved impacts your work in slightly different ways.

The types of anxiety disorder are:

Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD): Features excessive and irrational fear and worry. Symptoms are shortness of breath, insomnia, trouble concentrating, heart palpitations, irritability, sweating, and dizziness.

Panic disorder: Features unpredictable episodes with symptoms of impending doom, chest pain, trembling, shortness of breath, and nausea. The symptoms often mimic a heart attack.

Social anxiety: Features an intense fear of being publically judged or rejected by others. The symptom is sweating, blushing, nausea, muscle tension, rapid heartbeat, and feeling lightheaded.

Specific phobia: Features extreme and irrational fear related to a specific object or situation, causing avoidance behaviors that cause social isolation.

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD): Features lingering anxiety symptoms after a traumatic event that do not resolve in a month. Symptoms include flashbacks, nightmares, irritability, detachment, insomnia, substance abuse, and avoidance behaviors.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD): Features a pattern of obsessive thoughts and fears that lead to compulsive behavioral responses. The fear response triggers sweating, racing heart, and other anxiety symptoms.

Ways that Anxiety Can Affect Work Performance

The symptoms of anxiety can interfere with your ability to perform at work. Even basic job functions may be harder when you have anxiety. Sometimes the anxiety is work-related, such as working in a highly stressful position or just being burned out. Other times the anxiety has nothing to do with work.

No matter the reason for feeling the effects of anxiety, it can affect your work performance in these ways:

  • Fatigued. When you are stricken with anxiety, it can leave you feeling exhausted. The anxiety causes you to feel like you are in the fight-or-flight mode all day. This makes you feel fatigued and drained, and unable to work at peak performance levels.
  • Sleep deprived. Chances are you are also not getting enough good, quality sleep at night. This may be due to the tossing and turning as you mull over all your worries. Lack of sleep affects your whole day, causing you to feel listless and grumpy at work, and far less productive.
  • Lack of focus. You are not able to do your best work when you are distracted by worries all day. Anxiety causes you to struggle with paying attention. It is also harder to make decisions, and this can impact job performance.
  • Irritable. It isn’t only your work that suffers when anxiety flares up. Colleagues may lose patience when you bring your irritability and impatience to work with you. Showing up in a sour mood day after day will harm your relationships with coworkers.
  • Fear and dread. When anxiety takes hold, it can cause you to feel less self-assured at work. You might begin doubting your skills or qualifications for the job. Social anxiety can make you afraid to show up to work events due to fear of being criticized or judged.

How to Manage Anxiety at Work

If you are struggling with anxiety and it is creeping into your work life, consider these tips for better managing it:

  1. Get better sleep. Getting better sleep should be a priority, as it results in better mental functioning. Stick to a regular sleep schedule, aim for 7-8 hours of sleep, and shut down electronics an hour before bedtime.
  2. Get moving. Sitting too long may cause the anxiety to pick up. Try taking short breaks from the desk. Go outside and take a few laps around the building, or go up and down the stairs a couple of times. These short bursts of activity can help you regroup.
  3. Deep breathing. When we feel anxious we tend to take shallow breaths. Focus on your breathing when you feel the anxiety starting to spike. Practice some deep breathing exercises to quickly reduce anxiety.
  4. Have healthy snacks. At work, we tend to graze on sugary snacks or processed junk food. These work against your mental health. Try stocking your desk with nuts and seeds, fruit, roasted chickpeas, protein bars, or rice cakes. Also, be sure to drink lots of water to stay hydrated.
  5. Practice mindfulness. You can train your mind to better manage the distressing thoughts that cause anxiety. Mindfulness helps you when you feel the worries starting to ratchet up. Stop and acknowledge your mind state, understand this will soon pass, and carry on.

When to Seek Professional Help

If your work is suffering due to your anxiety, and these tips are not working, get some mental health support. Working with a therapist might help you work through the anxiety. But if you are not improving you may benefit from residential treatment.

These are inpatient programs in a private home setting. Taking some time away from stressors and work can really help you focus on your mental health and begin to heal. Treatment involves:

  • Evidence-based psychotherapy. CBT helps you identify irrational thoughts that may be fueling the stress response. Exposure therapy and other trauma-focused therapies can help you heal from past trauma.
  • Medication. Certain medications help reduce anxiety, such as benzos and mood stabilizers.
  • Group support. Small groups of peers in recovery convene to discuss topics while bonding with each other.
  • Family therapy. A family-focused group allows family members to learn about their loved one’s struggles with anxiety, and how to be supportive.
  • Holistic therapies. Activities that promote relaxation include meditation, deep breathing exercises, yoga, aromatherapy, and art therapy.

Elevation Behavioral Health Residential Mental Health Treatment

Elevation Behavioral Health can help you learn to better manage your anxiety. If anxiety is affecting work performance, reach out to us today at (888) 561-0868.

Our team of experts is here to help you.