You’ve probably felt anxiety at work at some point in time. It might have been when your big presentation was about to be begin, or the shipment you were delivering had to be there five minutes ago, or your performance review is in an hour and this is the one where you’ll finally ask for a raise.

Symptoms of Anxiety

Anxiety is never easy to deal with. Your heart can start racing for no apparent reason. You can have shortness of breath. You might also start to sweat, get the jitters and feel confusion and panic.

The anxiety symptoms you can experience in the workplace scenarios above are no easier to manage than any other anxiety. But there is one advantage they have over some of the other times you might have anxiety. They all have a clear stressor, or identifiable trigger that is very likely the cause of the symptoms.

an empty boardroomAnxiety in the Workplace

But what happens when you experience symptoms of anxiety at work and there is no clear stressor, or the anxiety is not just occasional, but ongoing? We’re all concerned about having and keeping a job. That concern can make us more susceptible to anxiety in our work than in other parts of our lives. And many of us can experience more anxiety in the workplace than others, based on a combination of genetic factors, personality traits, working conditions and life experiences.

That said, one of the basic ways of dealing with anxiety at work is to get a better understanding of it. This can include knowing more about your own predisposition to anxiety and any aspects of your job that might not be identifiable as a stressor, but may still lead to levels of anxiety that are over and above what are ‘normal’ for you.

  1. Conflicts with Coworkers – If you have a disagreement with a work colleague, particularly a heated or contentious one, it may lead to anxiety about why the disagreement happened, what will happen the next time you need to interact with the person or how your employers might react. But even if you resolve the issue with your colleague, you may still experience anxiety due to concern about the conflict happening again or perhaps ruminating about nature of the conflict.
  2. Aspects of the Job – You’ve done well and you’ve been promoted. But now you have more responsibilities, or need to be critical of how people perform their jobs, or perhaps you might need to deal with customers, all of which you may have fears about, and those fears can cause anxiety.
  3. Pressures from Outside the Job – Sometimes the anxiety you feel at work can be the result of stresses that are unrelated to the job, workplace or employer. Personal relationships, family issues or financial concerns can affect your job performance or job satisfaction in ways that cause uncertainty, lack of confidence or frustration, any of which can lead to anxiety.

These are just a few example of some of the circumstances that may be causing your workplace-related anxiety. They’re presented to give you a better understanding of why you might be experiencing anxiety symptoms when there is no apparent stressor. A better understanding of your anxiety and its causes is the basis on which better coping is built. And better coping can lead to a lower number and lower severity of symptoms.

To learn more, you are welcome to contact us here at BRCook Psychological Services and schedule an appointment.

Bruce R. Cook

I have been a practicing mental health professional for the past 26 years and I have worked in various public and private practice settings throughout the GTA and Ontario. The populations that I work with are adults 18-64 and I have extensive experience working with both individuals on various presenting problems, and also as a couples’ therapist.

I am a certified solution-focused therapist, and I integrate a number of theoretical orientations into my practice including cognitive-behavioural, humanistic, psychodynamic, reality focused therapy. In essence, my experience and style have been dynamically moved into an eclectic approach that best seems to fit the client and their personal needs.
Bruce R. Cook