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How to channel your workplace anxiety productively

Do you sometimes feel uneasy and restless at work? The first thing to remind yourself is that you’re not alone. Regardless of the industry, company, or role you’re in, feelings of workplace anxiety (sometimes called productivity anxiety) can affect anyone. Yes, this includes your star colleagues who always bring their ‘A’ game to work. But worry not – the good news is that you can totally channel this anxious energy into something positive, invariably boosting your productivity at work. Today’s Pacific Prime article deals with this pertinent issue.

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Behind the numbers: Employees deal with workplace anxiety

Before we jump straight into the ‘how to’ section of this article, it’s worth understanding how widespread anxiety in the workplace actually is. According to the Anxiety & Depression Association of America, 40 million adults in the U.S aged 18 and above suffer from anxiety disorders. What’s more, their survey found that 72% of people who have daily stress and anxiety say it interferes with their lives at least moderately.

When it comes to their work lives, people say that stress and anxiety most often impact their:

  • Workplace performance – 56%
  • Relationship with coworkers and peers – 51%
  • Quality of work – 50%
  • Relationship with superiors – 43%

Whether it’s fear of contracting COVID-19, dealing with loneliness from social distancing, or any number of concerns, people are likely to feel more stressed and anxious during this time, as 93% of people reported at least one behavior change (including negative behaviors). It is quite plausible that these feelings may spill over into their work lives – even after the pandemic is declared officially over.

Read more: If you have felt stressed and anxious during the COVID-19 outbreak, check out these 7 tips to keep you mentally healthy.

A word about stress and anxiety

While stress and anxiety were linked together previously, it’s important to point out that they are not quite the same thing. Stress is a response to external stimuli, which means it goes away when the problem goes. On the other hand, anxiety can exist on its own. For example, feeling relief after a client meeting is an indication that you were probably feeling stressed by it, but constantly dreading going to work is a sign that you’re dealing with anxiety.

That being said, both stress and anxiety can take a lot of mental energy, which eventually leads to emotional exhaustion and wears you out. This affects your ability to work effectively, thereby lowering your productivity. Instead of dealing with the problem at hand, you may end up feeling even worse for your lowered productivity, leaving you stuck in this vicious cycle. Now, it’s time for you to break out of this feeling.

5 ways to overcome workplace anxiety

There’s no one-size-fits-all approach on how to deal with your workplace anxiety because each individual and situation is unique. Therefore, please take the below tips with a pinch of salt when trying to find a solution that works for you. In serious cases, or if the coping strategies aren’t effective, you’re also advised to see a professional to help you work through your workplace anxiety.

1. Accept that you’re anxious and convert that into something positive

Rather than calming yourself down, (which takes a lot of energy and is difficult to do), accept that you’re anxious and tell yourself that’s okay. You’ll feel the weight of the world lifted from your shoulders. Next, focus on turning that sense of adrenaline that comes from anxiety into an upbeat emotion instead. This reframing of the narrative from a negative to a positive one is called ‘arousal congruency’, as outlined by Alison Wood Brooks of Harvard Business School.

2. Break down large tasks to give you a sense of accomplishment

When you have an endless number of tasks to do as part of a bigger project, often with competing priorities, you’ll find yourself multitasking. This makes it harder to feel accomplished when you complete a task. On the contrary, you may feel anxiety because you always have something or the other hanging over your head. A way around this is to break down large tasks into smaller ones that you can tick off as you complete.

3. Say no to the internet (and to the ‘always on’ culture)

Being connected to the internet makes it harder for you to focus on the task at hand, as you’re likely to be distracted by multiple open tabs and notification alerts. This lowers your productivity, which only serves to increase workplace anxiety. Given this, consider saying no to the internet (at least temporarily, if you’ve got a task you could do without the world wide web) and see your output levels rise.

Read more: The ‘always on’ culture exacerbates the problem, as we’ve covered in our inaugural Global Employee Benefits Trends Report 2020.

4. Monitor your feelings at work and develop an anxiety barometer

Chances are you’ll begin procrastinating before your anxiety kicks in – whether that being looking at your phone, finding reasons to leave your desk, focusing on less important tasks than the task at hand, etc. As such, consider monitoring your feelings and behavior at work. Doing so will give you a better idea of your triggers, helping you identify the root cause of the anxiety so that you can better deal with it.

5. Speak to your employer and utilize resources that are available

Finally, don’t be afraid to ask for help. If workplace anxiety is getting the better of you, speak to your employer about any workplace ‘accommodations’ or ‘adjustments’ that may work for you. For example, flexible working arrangements could be one option. What’s more, ask about mental health resources and employee assistance programs (EAPs), or counseling and crisis support for struggling employees.

Take matters into your own hands and secure health insurance today

Granted, employers today are increasingly concerned about their employees’ health and wellbeing. Many provide mental health-related employee benefits (as the aforementioned section outlined) and group health insurance. This is because they understand the link between one’s state of mind, physical health, and workplace performance. With that said, it may still be worth securing your own health insurance plan as this brings numerous advantages.

Our team at Pacific Prime can help you understand and navigate your healthcare needs and the world of insurance. As a health insurance brokerage, we’ve got over twenty years of experience working with both individuals and corporates, building up considerable expertise and connections with top insurers. Whether you’re looking for health insurance with worldwide coverage or any other health insurance plan, our advisors are only one phone call or email away.

Contact us today!

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