If you get a feeling of dread or knot in your stomach before doing something as simple as going to work, you might be legitimately worried about your mental health. But know that you’re not alone. It’s quite common to feel anxiety about going to work, even on a daily basis.
There are some things you can do about it. Quitting is an obvious one but that may not be the best solution. A range of everyday psychological techniques are available that can help, along with some practical measures.
If anxiety is impacting your daily life and preventing you from going to work or performing your job duties, it may be time to seek help. Here are a few things you can try to manage your anxiety. Let’s go through some tips and tricks for relieving anxiety about going to work every day.
Why People Feel Anxiety About Going to Work
There are many potential causes of anxiety about going to work. Some common causes are the following.
Overwhelming workload. If you have too much to do and not enough time to do it, you may feel stressed and anxious about going to work. You’re essentially taking on more than you can handle, which can be good in some contexts but it also anxiety-inducing.
Conflicts with co-workers. If you’re experiencing conflicts with colleagues, you may feel anxious about interacting with them at work. If you feel this way, something is probably not right. They could be talking behind your back or disrespecting you in other ways. It’s natural to feel stressed when you don’t get along with people you see every day.
Fear of failure. If you’re afraid of making mistakes or not meeting expectations, you may feel anxious about work as well. Insecurity or a perfectionist streak could drive this.
Workplace culture. If the culture at your workplace is negative or toxic, it can contribute to feelings of anxiety. Work may be the place that you feel least comfortable. You’d rather be almost anywhere else if a toxic culture is causing psychological damage.
Change. If there have been recent changes at work, such as a restructuring or a new boss, it can be stressful and contribute to anxiety. Security comes from having a certain level of predictability and this may have been taken away.
Personal issues. Personal issues, such as relationship problems or financial stress, can also contribute to anxiety about turning up to work. Psychologically, you may feel in a state of emergency, with your job preventing you from addressing deeper worries.
1. Relaxation Techniques
Practice relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, or mindfulness meditation to calm your mind and body.
Deep breathing is a simple but effective technique that can help calm your mind and body. To try it, find a comfortable place to sit or lie down and focus on your breath. Slowly inhale through your nose, allowing your chest and stomach to rise. Exhale slowly through your mouth, allowing your chest and stomach to fall. As you breathe, try to clear your mind of any distractions and focus only on your breath. You can do this for as little as a few minutes or for as long as you like.
Progressive muscle relaxation involves tensing and relaxing different muscle groups to help relax your whole body. To try it, start by tensing the muscles in your toes and feet for a few seconds, then slowly relaxing them. Move up through your body, tensing and relaxing each muscle group as you go. Pay attention to the sensation of tension and relaxation as you do this.
Mindfulness meditation is about focusing your attention on the present moment and letting go of any distractions. To try it, find a quiet place to sit or lie down and focus on your breath or a mantra (such as “I am at peace”). Whenever your mind wanders, gently redirect your attention back to your breath or mantra. You can do this for as little as a few minutes or for as long as you like.
These techniques can help reduce anxiety by calming the mind and body and bringing your focus to the present moment. You may find it helpful to try different techniques to see what works best for you.
2. Develop a Consistent Routine
Develop a consistent morning routine to help you feel more prepared and in control. This might include activities such as exercise, meditation, or making your lunch the night before.
Plan out your morning the night before. This can help you feel more organised and in control, which can reduce anxiety. You might try laying out your clothes, packing your bag, or preparing breakfast or lunch the night before.
Set a consistent wake-up time. Having a consistent wake-up time can help regulate your body’s natural sleep-wake cycle, which can make it easier to get up in the morning and feel more rested.
Incorporate stress-reducing activities into your morning routine. This might include exercise, meditation, or spending a few minutes journaling or practicing gratitude.
Allow enough time for your morning routine. If you’re rushed in the morning, you may feel more stressed and anxious. Try to give yourself enough time to get ready at a relaxed pace.
By developing a consistent morning routine that includes stress-reducing activities, you can help create a sense of calm and control that can carry over into your workday.
3. Set Realistic Goals
Set realistic goals and priorities for the day, and break larger tasks into smaller, more manageable ones. This can help you feel more organised and less overwhelmed.
Make a list of your tasks and priorities for the day. Seeing a clear list of what you need to do can help you feel more organised and in control, which can reduce anxiety.
Break larger tasks into smaller, more manageable ones. This can make them feel more manageable and help you make progress more quickly, which can boost your confidence and reduce anxiety.
Prioritise your tasks. Consider which tasks are most important or urgent and tackle those first. This can help you feel more productive and reduce anxiety about falling behind.
Set realistic goals. Don’t try to do too much in one day, as this can lead to feelings of overwhelm and anxiety. Instead, focus on what you can reasonably accomplish and be kind to yourself if you don’t get everything done.
By setting clear goals and priorities and breaking tasks down into smaller, more manageable pieces, you can feel more organised and in control, which can help reduce anxiety about going to work.
4. Get Adequate Sleep
Try to get enough sleep the night before, as lack of sleep can contribute to anxiety.
Lack of sleep can contribute to anxiety. When you don’t get enough sleep, your body and mind don’t have a chance to fully rest and recover, which can leave you feeling stressed and anxious.
Getting enough sleep can help regulate your body’s natural sleep-wake cycle. This can make it easier to fall asleep and wake up feeling rested and refreshed, which can in turn reduce anxiety.
Establishing a consistent sleep routine can help improve the quality of your sleep. Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, create a relaxing bedtime routine, and avoid screens and stimulating activities before bedtime.
If you’re having trouble sleeping, consider talking to a healthcare professional. They can help you identify any underlying issues and suggest strategies for improving your sleep.
By getting enough sleep and establishing a consistent sleep routine, you can help reduce anxiety and improve your overall well-being.
5. Reach Out for Personal Support
Reach out to a friend, family member, or counsellor for support if you are feeling overwhelmed.
It’s okay to ask for help when you’re feeling overwhelmed. In fact, seeking support from friends, family, or a mental health professional can be an important step in managing anxiety.
Asking for help is a life skill and one of the ways you can practice psychology in everyday life. Talking about your feelings with someone you trust can be a helpful way to process your thoughts and emotions and feel more grounded.
A mental health professional, such as a therapist or counsellor, can provide additional support and guidance in managing anxiety. They can help you identify the causes of your anxiety and develop coping strategies to manage it.
If your anxiety is affecting your ability to function, it’s important to seek professional help. A mental health professional can help you determine the best course of treatment, which may include therapy, medication, or a combination of both.
Remember that seeking support is a sign of strength, not weakness. It takes courage to ask for help, and doing so can make a big difference in your ability to manage anxiety.
6. Avoid Stimulants
Avoid caffeine and other stimulants, as they can increase anxiety.
Caffeine is a stimulant that can affect your nervous system. It can cause your heart rate and blood pressure to increase, which can make you feel more anxious.
Other stimulants, such as tobacco and certain medications, can also affect your nervous system and increase anxiety.
It’s not uncommon for people to use caffeine and other stimulants as a way to increase energy and focus, but these substances can also have negative side effects, including anxiety.
If you find that caffeine or other stimulants are contributing to your anxiety, it may be helpful to cut back on these substances or eliminate them from your diet.
Keep in mind that everyone reacts differently to caffeine and other stimulants. What may be fine for one person may not be for another. If you’re unsure about whether a particular substance is affecting your anxiety, you may want to talk to a healthcare professional for guidance.
7. Talk to HR if Necessary
Consider talking to your employer or human resources representative about your anxiety and any accommodations that might help you feel more comfortable at work.
It’s important to remember that you are not alone in experiencing anxiety, and that it is a common and treatable condition.
If your anxiety is affecting your ability to perform your job, it may be helpful to talk to your employer or human resources representative about it. They may be able to offer support or suggest accommodations that can help you feel more comfortable at work.
Some potential accommodations that may be helpful for individuals with anxiety include:
- Allowing flexible work hours or the option to work from home
- Providing additional time off or a reduced workload
- Offering access to counselling or other mental health resources
- Modifying the physical environment (e.g., providing a quiet workspace or allowing the use of noise-cancelling headphones)
Keep in mind that every individual’s needs are different, and it’s important to communicate openly with your employer about what would be most helpful for you.
It may also be helpful to work with a mental health professional to develop coping strategies that can help you manage anxiety in the workplace.