September 21, 2020

5 Types of Workplace Anxiety and What You Can Do to Deal With Them

Written by Rachel Eddins

5 Types of Workplace Anxiety and What You Can Do to Deal With Them laptop in office

Almost all of us experience workplace anxiety to some extent.

To a certain degree, work-related anxiety can even be healthy as it pushes us to try harder and to be our best.

Often times, however, workplace anxiety can be debilitating. For many of us, the anxiety we experience at our jobs may even hinder our professional progress or stop us from progressing altogether.


Consider five of the most common types of work anxiety and what you can do to better deal with them.

Fear #1: Public Speaking

Speaking in public is a nearly-universal fear. So many of us experience extreme anxiety when we are asked to speak in front of our peers.

Yet, speaking in front of an audience is extremely common in many diverse job roles and workplaces.  Many may find themselves apprehensive of even applying to a position that may involve public speaking, even if the position is aligned with their interests and goals.

Public speaking involves not only your traditional workplace presentation, but can also include Zoom meetings, conference calls, community outreach events, and even job interviews.

Often people with anxiety surrounding public speaking may struggle through these tasks while being extremely uncomfortable, perhaps even exhibiting physical symptoms such as sweating, becoming flushed, dry mouth, shaking, or stuttering.

How to Deal With It:

Because anxiety about public speaking is so common, it is helpful to remember that many of your coworkers and even your supervisors likely share in your fear.

By remembering this you will likely be more cognizant of your own anxiety than others are. Repeating this to yourself as positive self-talk before the event, you can help quell anxiety.

If you do have to speak or present in front of a group, there are many grounding techniques that can be helpful in lessening your workplace anxiety.

Before you step into the spotlight or begin your zoom call, why don’t you try taking a few deep breaths… in through your nose and out through your mouth for about 4 seconds for each inhalation and exhalation.

While breathing, focus on the sensations your body is feeling as you breathe.

practice deep breathing to manage workplace anxietyAnother grounding technique to do, especially if you notice yourself shaking or fidgeting, is to rub your big toe on the bottom of your shoe.

Focus on this sensation and notice that the repeating motion provides some comfort and soothing for you.

Additionally, you may notice that you have stopped shaking and fidgeting all together, all the while no one can visibly notice this grounding technique!

Fear #2: Socializing With Colleagues

Even in our post-COVID world, many companies expect their employees to go above and beyond the 9-to-5 schedule. At some point, you may need to attend company lunches, conventions, or mixers These expectations can make employees fear being asked personal questions or being put on the spot.

How to Deal With It: 

It is likely impossible for you to skip every social function your department throws, but you can usually minimize the time you have to spend at each one.

If you need to attend a function have a strict “end time” in mind before the event begins. Express to your coworkers that will need to leave at a predetermined time.

Not only is this a healthy way to practice setting time boundaries, but it also allows you to increase self-confidence and self-advocacy! 

Furthermore, it can be helpful to mentally prepare your answers to a handful of common “small talk” questions. That way, you will not feel put on the spot when your coworkers ask them.

Often many can find small talk uninteresting and repetitive, so if you feel this applies to you too, why not have a few fun questions in mind that can create a deeper, more interesting, and more authentic connection.

Ask questions such as “What is one thing you have been enjoying during the pandemic that you didn’t before?” or “Have you learned anything recently that you were genuinely excited about?”.

Questions like these, not only start off a meaningful and exciting conversation but you may also notice your anxiety diminishing as you become more naturally invested in the conversation.

Do you fear social or performance situations and get anxious just thinking about them? Do you avoid situations due to your anxiety, fear of judgment, or fear of embarrassment?

Take our social anxiety test and find out if it social anxiety is limiting your potential.

social anxiety test

Fear #3: Missing a Deadline

Many of us work in stressful, demanding industries that are jam-packed with due dates and deadlines.

Thus, one of the most common workplace anxieties is missing a deadline or forgetting something.

If you feel like your to-do list never ends, you are not alone.

How to Deal With It:

Your best defense against a missed deadline or forgotten project is to use multiple tracking systems. Record your due-dates using whichever method is most natural for you (Outlook, a wall calendar, etc.), and then use at least one backup method.

It also helps to make a list of next week’s deadlines and projects at the end of each workweek so you can be prepared when Monday morning rolls around.

Fear #4: Meeting With a Boss

Meeting with a supervisor or even the company boss can be terrifying. It is quite normal to experience clammy hands and a rapid heart rate when asked to meet with a superior.

How to Deal With It:

Oftentimes you may notice that prior to meeting with your boss, your mind may race with intrusive thoughts of all the worst possible outcomes. Instead, try focusing on the positive outcomes of this meeting.

It’s possible this meeting is to praise all of the work you are doing or giving you a new and exciting job that they think only you are capable of!

Keep your expectations realistic. The odds are that one meeting with a supervisor is not going to completely alter the course of your career, so keep your fears and anxieties in line accordingly.

There are a thousand reasons a boss could want to meet with you. Most likely, your boss is not going to fire you without warning or give you a massive promotion completely out of the blue.

So, simply listen to what they have to say and be honest in your responses.

Fear #5: Dressing Inappropriately

While dress code may seem like a trivial thing, it is actually very common to feel anxious about the way we look in the workplace.

Many people fear they are either dressed too casually or too formally. And they tend to worry about everything from their hairstyle to their shoes.

How to Deal With It:

Use the way your colleagues dress as a baseline. If you are starting a new job, it is always a good idea to err on the side of dressing too formally at first. Then, gradually, you can taper your style down to match the company.

When in doubt, simply ask yourself if you look professional. Odds are, no one will even notice the color of your tie or the style of your dress.

Manage Workplace Anxiety with Help from a Therapist

If you are struggling with workplace anxiety and having difficulty finding a way to deal with your fears, please contact us today!

Eddins Counseling Group in Houston, TX has many experienced anxiety specialists. With anxiety counseling, your therapist can help you with calming strategies to help with anxious thoughts and emotions. Contact us to find out how to get started soon. You can also call to book an appointment online.

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