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A Guide to Managing Anxiety in the Workplace 

13 minute read

Many of us can and often do experience varying degrees of anxiety about choosing a career path, during the job search journey or when starting work.  Anxiety at its core is an emotion just like sadness, joy, excitement, or despair. However, what is different about anxiety is that it produces a physiological response in our body, not just an emotional response.  

What is anxiety and how can we manage it? 

Anxiety is the most common mental health concern in Australia, with 1-4 people being affected. Anxiety is a biological, physiological, and emotional response to a perceived threat to your safety or external danger.  Once the stressful situation has passed or the stressor is removed, our anxiety response and feelings normally subside.  Therefore, anxiety is a natural experience and response to stressors in our life.

However, there are times when it can take a severe toll on your mental health and quality of life. That is, when anxiety may become problematic and may stop us from engaging in our normal daily functions and interactions with others – and this is when anxiety may develop into a mental health concern. An anxiety disorder develops when our response to the stressor fails to subside and continues without reason, trigger, or cause.  

What is normal versus abnormal anxiety? 

Normal anxiety is part of our body’s natural fight/flight response, it prepares us for danger, and is a normal response to uncertainty, trouble, new experiences, or nervousness.  Abnormal anxiety is when we experience persistent or excessive worrying or panic responses that interfere with functioning, coupled with intrusive and ruminating thoughts such as obsessional thinking involving excessive, repetitive thoughts or themes that interfere with other forms of mental activity (Normal and Abnormal Anxiety: What’s the Difference?, 2015). 

Can anxiety be beneficial? 

Anxiety response can also be helpful and even exciting. Yes, that is true! The most common anxiety symptoms are feeling restless or tense, increased heart or breathing rates, feeling sick in the stomach, experiencing butterfly’s and nervousness, trouble concentrating, difficulty sleeping, and even persistent and distracting thoughts.

When we feel these, we generally attach them to negative thoughts, feelings of dread and uneasiness. But, did you know that when we are excited about something – like starting a new job or course, relationship or looking forward to an event or holiday, our body can experience varying degrees of the symptoms mentioned. The DIFFERENCE is the meaning that we attach to the symptoms – dread, fear, danger = ANXIETY,  or excitement, joy, hope = HAPPINESS.  Sometimes managing and controlling anxiety can be as simple as changing the meaning that we are attaching to the experience.

Here are some tips for managing anxiety, looking at the mind and body, and how to put these tips into action!


Mind:
 

  • Accept that you cannot control everything. Put your stress in perspective: Is it really as bad as you think? 
  • Do your best. Instead of aiming for perfection, which isn’t possible, be proud of however close you get. 
  • Maintain a positive attitude. Make an effort to replace negative thoughts with positive ones. 
  • Learn what triggers your anxiety. Is it work, family, school, or something else you can identify? Write in a journal when you’re feeling stressed or anxious and look for a pattern. 


Body:
 

  • Limit alcohol and caffeine. Alcohol and caffeine can aggravate anxiety and trigger panic attaches. Instead, drink water. 
  • Well-balanced meals. Do not skip any meals and always keep healthy, energy boosting snacks on hand. 
  • Get enough sleep. When stressed, your body needs additional sleep and rest. It’s important to get eight hours of sleep per night.
  • Exercise daily. Exercising can help you feel good and maintain your health. 


Action:
 

  • Take deep breaths. Inhale and exhale slowly throughout the day when you are feeling stressed.
  • Slowly count to ten. Repeat and count to 20 if necessary. 
  • Give back to your community. Volunteer or find another way to be active in your community, which creates a support network and gives a break from everyday stress.
  • Take time out. Practice yoga, listen to music, meditate, get a massage, or learn relaxation techniques. Stepping back from problems helps clear your head.
  • Get help online. If you are struggling with stress and anxiety in your life, consider taking a mental health screen. Screening is an anonymous, free, and private way to learn about your mental health.
  • Talk to someone. Tell friends and family you’re feeling overwhelmed and let them know how they can help you. Talk to a physician or therapist for professional help. 

 

About Asuria Wellbeing Services

Asuria provides a range of wellbeing services to empower you with the knowledge, tools, and skills to help you get and keep a job. The Asuria Wellbeing Specialist Team are highly trained, registered allied health professionals, including psychologists, social workers and counsellors. We will support you every step of the way, by conducting evidence-based assessments and delivering counselling interventions if you are having trouble finding or keeping a job.

If you’re interested in finding out more about Asuria’s Wellbeing Specialist services, call 1800 773 338 or visit our website.


 

Written by Deborah Flower, Psychologist – Asuria National Wellbeing Manager

Deborah Flower works in our Wellbeing Specialist Team as the National Wellbeing Manager to provide Allied Health services through her experience as a dedicated psychologist.

Bringing years of experience to her role within Asuria, Deborah and her team work to provide support of the highest quality to our clients.

Deborah - Circle Frame

 

 


References: 

Normal and Abnormal Anxiety: What’s the Difference? (2015). Mentalhelp.net. https://www.mentalhelp.net/anxiety/normal-and-abnormal-whats-the-difference/.

 

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Asuria