Building Resilience at Work

Successfully Overcoming Workplace Anxiety
Building Resilience at Work

You're not Alone

As a coach specialising in evidence-based techniques, I work with many individuals struggling with workplace anxiety. Sadly, depression, stress and anxiety at work are becoming increasingly common in the UK. Recent statistics reveal that a staggering 79% of British adults experience work-related stress, with 55% reporting anxiety as a direct consequence [1]. This translates to billions of lost workdays and a significant annual economic impact [2].

These numbers are alarming. They highlight a growing trend. We all know that feeling overwhelmed or stressed at work harms all areas of our lives.

This article is packed with insight, practical tools, and tips. But first, let’s look at the problem more closely:

Addressing Work-Related Stress

While everyone can face challenges at work, some professions carry a higher risk of mental health issues due to the nature of the job. This is especially true for those who frequently witness traumatic events, such as healthcare and emergency response workers.

Beyond specific job types, economic downturns and public health emergencies can also affect mental well-being. These events trigger job insecurity, financial strain, and a lack of opportunities. Every challenge contributes to stress and anxiety.

The workplace can sometimes act like a magnifying glass for existing social problems. Discrimination and unfair treatment (whether they are related to race, gender, sexual orientation, or other factors) can exacerbate mental health challenges for individuals already facing these issues.

In the UK, we’re in a recession. With heightened job insecurity and increased work demands, the struggle to maintain a work-life balance can fuel anxiety [1].

Recent research also shows demographic disparities around workplace anxiety. Gen Z and millennials report higher stress levels than their older counterparts [3]. Studies published in a recent McKinsey Report suggest that women and individuals from marginalised communities are disproportionately affected by workplace stressors [4].

The research findings highlight the need for targeted interventions. Raising awareness is the only way to address these disparities effectively.

If you’re experiencing workplace anxiety, please know that you’re not alone. There is help available. Through evidence-based therapeutic approaches, you can develop coping mechanisms. In turn, you’ll learn to manage stress and build resilience. With these tools in your armoury, you will easily navigate workplace challenges.

Remember, your mental health is paramount. Seeking professional support is a sign of strength, not weakness.

Warning Signs of Workplace Anxiety and Effective Coping Strategies

Identifying the Signs

Workplace anxiety can manifest in various ways, both internally and externally. Here are some common signs and symptoms:

Emotional: Persistent worry, dread, irritability, feeling overwhelmed or hopeless.

Physical: Headaches, muscle tension, fatigue, difficulty sleeping, changes in appetite.

Cognitive: Difficulty concentrating, forgetfulness, negative thought patterns.

Behavioural: Procrastination, avoiding work-related tasks, withdrawing from colleagues.

If you identify these signs in yourself, seeking professional support is crucial. You can also take these proactive steps yourself:

My 5 Practical Pointers

  1. Develop healthy coping mechanisms

Practice relaxation techniques like mindfulness meditation. Try deep breathing exercises or progressive muscle relaxation. Take short breaks throughout the day to practice these techniques to help calm your mind, reduce tension, and improve focus and productivity.

You’ll find helpful guided practices in my book, The Lazy Guide to Happy.

  1. Aim for a good work-life balance

Set boundaries between work and personal life. Disconnect from work outside of work hours and prioritise enjoyable activities. Establish a clear division between your work and personal life to prevent burnout. Saying no to additional tasks or commitments is okay if they jeopardise your well-being.

  1. Practice self-care and positive self-talk

Prioritise regular sleep, healthy eating, and physical exercise. These habits can significantly improve your overall well-being and resilience to stress.

Challenge negative thoughts and beliefs that contribute to feelings of anxiety by practising positive self-talk and remove unhelpful narratives. Replace self-critical or catastrophic thinking with more realistic and optimistic perspectives.

  1. Improve your time management and organisational skills

Break tasks into smaller, manageable steps. Prioritise your workload and set realistic goals and deadlines. Use tools such as to-do lists, calendars, and productivity apps to stay organised and on track. Delegate tasks when necessary. Ask for help or clarification, so all your work has value.

  1. Be clear – communicate effectively and seek social support

Talk openly with your manager about your workload and any concerns you may have. Your employer should see workplace anxiety as a two-way street and actively engage with employees who need adjustments.

Talk to trusted friends, family, or colleagues. Consider joining a support group or seeking professional help from a therapist who specialises in anxiety management.

Workplace Communication – Guide to Active Listening

Imagine a conversation where you feel honestly heard and understood. That’s the power of active constructive listening. It’s a learned skill that goes beyond nodding your head.

As an active listener, you become a magnet for positive connections. By truly paying attention and showing genuine interest, you build trust and respect with colleagues, managers, and everyone in between.

Creativity soars when everyone feels valued and heard, ideas blossom, and problems shrink. When active listening becomes the norm, brainstorming becomes a breeze, and finding solutions feels like teamwork.

So, how do you achieve this?

Be present: Give every speaker your full physical and mental attention. Put away distractions and make eye contact.

Lean in, not out: Show genuine interest through body language and facial expressions.

Ask clarifying questions: This shows your engagement and helps you understand their perspective.

Offer support and constructive feedback: Show you care by validating their feelings and offering helpful suggestions.

As an active listener, you become an asset in your workplace. I think it’s a skill worth investing in! It can help you build solid relationships and contribute to a thriving, collaborative environment.

Boosting Mental Health and Well-being with Positive Psychology in the Workplace

In your own work area, look for relevant sources of information. Check if you can access employee assistance programs, mental health hotlines, or therapy services covered by employer-sponsored health insurance. Your employer may provide tailored mental health initiatives and support services to meet diverse workforce needs. Many larger employers offer flexible work arrangements. You may have access to other mental health resources that aim to create a sense of belonging and psychological safety in the workplace.

I find that traditional workplace psychology focuses on fixing problems. Positive psychology tools help us foster positive emotions and build on our strengths. My recent blogs are full of helpful information. I’ve distilled the evidence-based research so you can access the tools that really work.

Here’s a little insight into how the fundamental principles can be applied:

Gratitude: As an employee, expressing appreciation can significantly improve workplace dynamics. Take the initiative to acknowledge your colleagues’ contributions during team meetings. Look for opportunities to share recent successes or achievements to foster a culture of gratitude. If your workplace doesn’t have one already, suggest implementing a “gratitude wall” where employees can anonymously express thanks, creating a positive atmosphere of recognition.

Resilience: Life at work can be unpredictable, but there are steps you can take to bounce back from setbacks. Seek out resources or workshops on stress management and mindfulness techniques. By proactively building resilience, you can contribute to a supportive work environment.

Growth Mindset: Embracing a growth mindset empowers you to continue learning and developing. Take the initiative.  Seek new challenges and opportunities for professional growth within your workplace. Recognise and celebrate your efforts and progress. If you think you have failed in a task or made a mistake, acknowledge it but see that as a learning opportunity   With a growth mindset, you can contribute to a culture that values learning and improvement.

Beyond Busy: Finding Happiness Within

Do you realise you already have within you all you need to have a happy life?

Remember, you are not alone. By employing positive strategies and seeking professional support when needed, you can effectively manage your workplace anxiety and navigate the challenges of your work environment with greater confidence and well-being.

I want to help you unlock happiness again by introducing you to low-effort, high-impact, zero-cost tools. Every tool I use in my practice is rooted in evidence and will fit into your busy life. Use them to build a baseline to raise your happiness and well-being. When you feel great, you’ll notice you have a more positive impact on everyone around you, too!

Make use of the bonus audio practices I’ve created to sit alongside my book, The Lazy Guide to Happy. Try the 2-minute time-out practice audio when you’re utterly time-pressed and stressed. The more extended 7-minute session is perfectly timed for your coffee break.

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