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Overwhelmed at Work? 9 Ways to Manage Work Anxiety

From prioritizing your work-life balance to asking a leader for help, here are nine answers to the question, "Can you share the best ways someone can manage work anxiety when they are overwhelmed?"

  • Prioritize Work-Life Balance

  • Take Breaks

  • Set Realistic Deadlines

  • Take It One Day at a Time

  • Step Back and Identify Your 80/20

  • Speak Up

  • Find the Root Cause

  • Break Down Your Tasks into Manageable Chunks

  • Work With Your Supervisor

Prioritize Work-Life Balance

Leave your work at work so that you have a work-life balance. When you're stressed at work, it's easy to feel you need to work overtime or bring your work home. While you may think that you will get more done this way, this is not always a good idea.

You will exhaust yourself if you make yourself think about work constantly. You need to create time to enjoy your family, friends, and hobbies. This will bring you happiness and perspective.

-Maegan Griffin, Founder, CEO, & Nurse Practitioner, Skin Pharm

Take Breaks

Taking breaks heals anxiety. For many years, we have lived in a work culture that values working for eight hours straight. This is changing a bit because people are realizing that exercising or changing up the scenery refreshes the mind, which can decrease anxiety and improve productivity. Sitting in one place for too long gets you too attached to your negative thoughts and feelings, causing you to lose perspective.

-Miles Beckett, Co-Founder & CEO, Flossy

Set Realistic Deadlines

We can easily get overwhelmed when we create deadlines for ourselves that seem impressive, or above and beyond what people expect of us. Take a step back and think about the rest of your workload. Is it achievable? If not, prioritize your work and set a new deadline that's more practical.

-Karim Hachem, VP of E-Commerce, La Blanca

Take It One Day at a Time

One of the most common ways people can experience anxiety in the workplace is when they return after some time off. They’ve probably lost track of what they were working on before they left, and they’ve been out of work mode for a while.

The best way to handle this is to take it one day at a time rather than overwhelming yourself. Little by little, certain procedures you had mastered previously will come back to you.

As a result, you’ll feel more engaged in your work and motivated to help the company. No matter what, it’s always beneficial to have a healthy, positive mindset, even if you’re a little behind.

Marilyn Zubak, Marketing Lead, Snif

Step Back and Identify Your 80/20

When you're feeling overwhelmed, remind yourself that you can't do everything. Prioritize your tasks. The trick is to step back and identify the 80/20. What 20% of things at work can bring in 80% reward? What are the 20% of projects that are bringing you 80% anxiety? This way, you'll be able to pinpoint exactly what is overwhelming you and then work on fixing that to ultimately manage your work anxiety.

Speak Up

If you're feeling overwhelmed at work, speak up. Usually, we want to avoid appearing as complainers to our managers, even when we have a lot on our plate.

On the other side of the token, managers do not always realize when they have assigned too much work to their employees, especially if no one mentions it. As an employee, you need to recognize that your manager is not necessarily a mind-reader. It is up to you to communicate any work-related issues you may have.

That being said, you can remain calm and tactful. For example, rather than venting about your stress in an angry or combative manner, you can describe how long it typically takes you to complete each task.

You can ask if some of your tasks can be assigned to others instead or if you can have more time to complete them. When you allow your manager to understand what you are going through, they will be more likely to appreciate your point of view and address your concerns.

-Nancy Eichler, Sr. VP of Marketing & E-Commerce, iwi life

Find the Root Cause

Work anxiety has a tendency to spiral. Before you know it, you can easily lose sight of where your anxiety is coming from. While it may feel like your stressors are coming out of every corner of your working day, odds are there may be a specific root cause that is leading you to have feelings of anxiousness throughout your day.

Take some time, either alone or with help, and try to deconstruct your day. Look at all the parts individually and try to narrow down what may cause your anxiety. You may find that the root cause is much more simple than you think, or it may be several things all culminating into one.

Regardless of what you discover, once you know the source, you can take steps to relieve your anxiety. So if you feel work anxiety dragging you down, take some time to gain some introspection to figure out what's going on. You can't fix a problem if you don't know its cause.

Break Down Your Tasks into Manageable Chunks

When you're feeling overwhelmed at work, one way to manage your anxiety is by breaking down your tasks into smaller chunks. Break each task down into steps that are easily achievable and give yourself a timeline of when you'd like to complete them. This can help reduce the feeling of being overwhelmed and make it easier for you to stay focused on one thing at a time. If you find the task is too large to handle in one sitting, take a break. Taking a few minutes here and there throughout the day can help you stay motivated and energized, while also providing an opportunity to step back from your work and refocus.

-Yemisi Iyilade, Project Management Professional, Eminent Coaching Academy

Work With Your Supervisor

I believe the key to best managing work anxiety is working with supervisors on what to prioritize, time management, and, when possible, delegating tasks to others.

The state of being overwhelmed shows one may have taken on too much responsibility in too short a time. Understanding what needs to be handled first reduces the anxiety of handling less important tasks.

Time management is a great way to schedule the day or week for when tasks will be handled. Delegating tasks may be as simple as asking someone to assist you with specific tasks that have become time-consuming.

-Kristina Ramos, Reverse Recruiter, Find My Profession


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