by Dovvy Phillips

Work Anxiety: Anxiety at Work

July 4, 2023 | Anxiety, workplace wellness

Work anxiety affects people in so many ways, and will often have a massive negative impact on people's quality of life. 

Whether you have anxiety at work, or work is causing your anxiety, it can quickly escalate for many reasons. 

One of the main reasons is that we spend so much of our lives at work. And because we spend so much time at work, having anxiety at work (or if work is causing the anxiety) needs to be addressed as soon as possible.

Our quality of work, our relationships, our self esteem / confidence can quickly deteriorate and the knock on effect of this can just lead to even more problems.

Since we spend so much of our time at work, a small problem with work anxiety can increase quickly.

How do I overcome anxiety at work?

First, you must identify if the anxiety is caused by work stresses, or if you suffer from anxiety and it's made worse (or just present) by being at work.

The reason you want to start here is simply because if your anxiety is caused by work (for example, if you’re suffering from workplace bullying), then the anxiety will not go away until you address the underlying cause.

With addressing most work anxiety, the way to overcome it is by addressing the root cause - and in most cases, anxiety is caused by too much stress bound in the Nervous system, causing the body to be in flight or flight.

Most people who want to address anxiety think they need to work on breathing or talking with a psychologist who does something like CBT, but this is often not the best approach - to find out why, READ THIS POST HERE.

Is it normal for work to give you anxiety?

I would say it’s not normal - for anything to give you anxiety!

Certain jobs with higher stress, like a fireman or ambulance driver who see high stress environments (seeing lots of trauma), are known to have more work anxiety.  Another example is the military when seeing lots of death on the battlefields - known to create lots of PTSD.

But this is not usual. For most jobs, work anxiety is not normal or healthy.

An interesting side point - many of my clients who suffer from anxiety also have a high need for certainty, and certain professions are going to attract people who like a high need for certainty. Some jobs will seem like anxiety is common.

One thing that I like about working with people who have anxiety is that anxiety does not discriminate. It does not matter if you're rich or poor, famous or not well-known. It does not matter if you're healthy or unfit, sick or healthy, or what race you are… anxiety will not discriminate.

Should I quit my job because of anxiety?

I would say, in most cases, NO!

When my clients come to me, even if anxiety is made worse by work stress, we often start with teaching them not to be so reactive to outside forces. It’s not really work that is causing your stress, but how you respond to what is going on.

Here is an example: your manager might keep putting extra work onto you, and you can’t seem to say "no". So, you end up doing more and more over time and start resenting work and accumulate stress every time you think about work. Now work starts stressing you out.  

Here, it’s not really about the manager, but about you not being able to say no and hold onto a clear boundary of your time. It is important to learn the skills within yourself to grow, otherwise you will just move into another job and end up with the same challenges.

The main reason I say no is because if you just change jobs (although sometimes is a great idea and needed), you will just have the same problems in the next job. Often, you need to grow to stop the outside world from causing your stress.

A few times when you might want to change jobs are when you have a toxic workplace culture or when you're unhappy anyway and want a change so it's a good excuse.

Often people don’t get the help they need when the work anxiety is building and think about leaving their job, but this can cause bigger problems as they might then be faced with the challenge of having no job and losing their financial security. This can cause anxiety and stress in itself.  

So, before you make a decision based upon being overreactive to your current situation, seek help from someone who can teach great strategies first.

About the author, Dovvy Phillips


I am the owner of Inspiring Wellness, a wellness and personal transformation clinic in Auckland CBD and the Author of “Wellness Words, How To Think, Speak, And Feel Great” and “How To Break Free From Anxiety”. I love helping my clients take back their lives, regain their health and get a whole new higher quality of life. If you are curious if we can help you, please contact us. We are here to help you.

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