Work Anxiety: 12 Tips to Overcome Your Work Stress

Work can be super stressful at times. From toxic bosses to Sunday scaries, it’s normal to dread the idea of going into work. But just because something is normal doesn’t mean it should be happening. We might need to work to live but if you’re spending 35-40 hours a week doing a specific job with certain people, it’s probably best to have a more enjoyable time. It might be hard to believe right now, but there are amazing bosses, healthy company cultures, and fun co-workers out there. So, if work is unbearable, you might find it’s time to leave your job. But we’re going to help share some suggestions you can try in the meantime, before you dive into a job search.

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Work Anxiety: 12 Tips to Overcome Your Work Stress

1. Create a positive environment around yourself

Sometimes at work, we become the fall guy. You know, the person who gets blamed for everything. A lot of work environments, particularly those toxic ones, obsess over us vs them dynamics. So, they’re the loyal, hardworking, and good people and you become villainized as the bad person. When your work anxiety is tied to a dynamic like this, the only way to break out of it is to be the most uplifting person around. In every interaction, sprinkle kindness, compliments, and high fives around. Instead of getting caught up in toxic office politics, focus on relationship building with everyone else around you outside the dynamics. This actually does something even better than just helping you find connections with people. It completely rewires your brain. If all day, you spend your time thinking about how you can be a better coworker to the people around you, you’ll actually start to spend less time ruminating on negative thoughts that spiral you into a depression or that dread of going into work. You can create a positive environment around yourself by changing or enhancing your treatment of others. By spreading high fives around the company when others have accomplishments, people will feel appreciated by you. In turn, slowly you’ll see better relationships with colleagues, happier work environment, and a better functioning of your brain.

2. Break tasks into smaller chunks

Work stress is sometimes actually caused by the work instead of the people. In cases where the workload is too chaotic (think: layoffs causing staff shortages, startup growing pains, or high targets), it’s best to find alternative ways to manage crazy workloads. For instance, if you break tasks into smaller chunks, you’ll likely find it easier to handle the challenge of analysis paralysis. Analysis paralysis is when there’s so much stuff to do, you end up freezing and not getting anything done. You overthink the situation trying to figure out what the best solution or course of action is and you end up delaying your own productivity. Using a calendar management tool to add tasks to your day to day can help you just pick the things you need to do and schedule it all in. Sometimes, just taking the time to organize your workload into a schedule, breaking them down into smaller parts, or just re-organizing how you think about your workload can help you just get stuff going. In smaller companies and in large companies that have recently undergone restructuring, you’ll find the workload can be unmanageable. The goal isn’t to be perfect. It’s to get as much work done as possible to help the company hit its main target goals. And if you’re producing a ton of work and getting those big results, you’ll likely have a little bit less work anxiety than your peers.

staying organized to manage work anxiety

3. Find your tribe

With so many people working together in a company, you’re going to have some personalities that feel like mortal enemies and others that feel like the world’s greatest best friend. How you navigate these relationships will determine your happiness at work. Finding a colleague that views the world positively or in a similar way as you can feel like a huge relief. At work, finding those like minded individuals can help you connect with others, even when you’re having a rough time with a specific coworker or you’re stuck with a really dreadful boss. Just as one toxic coworker can poison a team’s culture, a supportive ally can feel like the life raft you need. If you’re working in a big company, it’ll be easier to find your tribe than a small company. But in smaller companies, you’ll be able to create a culture that’s uplifting and positive much more easily. If you want to overcome work anxiety, look for the people who get you and cheer you on. And spread those cheers to others too, so that other colleagues don’t experience work worries while you work together.

4. Switch teams

When work stress is too much to bear, it might be time to switch teams. Some bosses are too terrible to work with. They’re overly critical when we’re performing at our best. They indulge in gossip with colleagues. They make us feel underappreciated at work. And no matter how hard you go to give them the best results, they still overlook you for promotions. Are they the type of people you want to help? Nope. So, it’s best to find another team with better leadership or kinder colleagues that you can trust and genuinely connect with. The goal is to find a team you can work well with and where you can enjoy doing your job while performing at your best. After all, if you’re a top performer on your team and the people around you are bogging you down with their drama, those distractions are going to hurt your performance if you’re a go-getter. Switching teams could help you escape the toxicity of a bad boss or difficult coworker so you can do your job in peace.

walking away from work stress

5. Create to do lists

Organizing your workload into a to do list can be a helpful way of managing your workload. If you’re experiencing work anxiety around what your priorities are, what you need to do, or how to reverse engineer a target into your own productivity, a to do list can be a great way to stay organized. Sometimes, performance suffers at work due to a lack of organization and planning. So, when you become organized and plan your workload ahead of time, you end up helping the company hit their goals allowing you to perform at your best. Work anxiety can rise when things become chaotic, targets aren’t met, and you start getting questioned about what you’re doing all day, every day. But if you create to-do lists, organize your schedule, and plan ahead, you can easily send these details to a manager so they can see how much work you’re doing and how much stuff you’re shipping every single day.

to do list for work worries

6. Connect with a therapist

Finding someone you trust isn’t always possible in the workplace. Sometimes, you need to find someone to vent your frustrations to who can’t ever find out about it. A therapist is a good person to confide in to get things off your chest. What you tell them can’t get gossiped around your workplace. A therapist will likely recommend solutions for you, such as meditation, yoga, replacing negative thoughts with positive ones, and other channels to help you perform your best. They might advise against certain behaviors you do at work to help you better manage your working relationships. They might give you communication tips for handling difficult conversations or coworkers.

7. Indulge in relaxing activities before and after work

When the work week is done, we often spend our time on the weekends feeling anxious about it starting up again. Having activities or hobbies that you do either before or after work, during lunch breaks, and on weekends can help ensure you’re getting the rest you need to manage a stressful work environment. Work anxiety is best managed through turning off the brain. You could do this by exercising, such as going for a walk outside during lunch. Or by learning a new hobby, such as robotics to take your mind off of work and to learn a new skill set outside your comfort zone. If you have a family, you could take your kids to the park or host get-togethers to help create a more relaxing atmosphere around yourself. Whatever your definition of relaxing is, is good to do when you’ve got work worries stressing you out. If your mind is constantly worrying and overthinking when watching a movie, then it’s clear it’s not one of your relaxing activities. The best activity is the one that shuts off your brain and allows you to disconnect from work completely when you’re not there.

walking to manage work anxiety

8. Avoid contact with difficult people

One of the best ways of dealing with work anxiety is to avoid contact with difficult people. Still be friendly when you need to cross paths with them. But avoid going out of your way to talk to them. By minimizing your contact with difficult people or negative folks, you’ll be able to better manage your work stress. Sometimes, the people we want to avoid the most are unavoidable. Like your boss. In these cases, just try to be as positive as possible. Understand that being in a leadership role is stressful and not all bosses are equipped to handle the pressure. That’s why they pass on their stress down to you. Keeping conversations as light and uplifting as possible will do wonders if you’re willing to keep the peace. But when you don’t need to interact with a specific person, keep conversations at a minimum to maintain your well being. Work anxiety is often caused by other people, so knowing how to communicate with others will play a crucial role in ensuring you reduce your work stress.

9. Celebrate your wins

When dealing with work anxiety, it’s normal to not see the positive side of things. But that doesn’t mean good things aren’t happening. Often when work stress mounts, we worry about possibly losing our jobs. Now more than ever, it’s important to celebrate your wins. Make a list of all your accomplishments. Take the time to collect data for what you’ve achieved. Screenshot some of your milestones for proof. And while you’re at it, update these details on your LinkedIn. You know, just in case you decide to look for a new job because your work anxiety is too much. Be vocal with your wins on Slack or whatever communications tools your team uses. But also, cheer on colleagues who are accomplishing things too. Spread the positivity that you and your teammates are crushing it at work. In case, there’s an impending layoff you need to prepare for, you want to build your support system by vocalizing your own and others wins.

celebrate your wins

10. Frame setbacks with a growth mindset

When work stress starts rising, it’s normal to start crumbling a bit. We fall apart hearing the constant criticism when we’re pouring our hearts out. We explain why everything isn’t working, but end up feeling misunderstood instead. The key to overcoming work anxiety is to frame setbacks with a growth mindset. When you get that hard to hear negative feedback, think about how you can evolve into a better version of yourself. How can you learn from this feedback, even if it’s unpleasant to hear? Even if you don’t want to believe it’s truth. The growth mindset is all about learning as much as you can, wanting to improve, and being open to the challenge that growth presents. It can be hard to feel like you’re not good enough when you get constant criticism that always changes. But you can make yourself better with feedback you get from others.

11. Sign up for professional development activities

Sometimes, our work anxiety is due to a lack of experience in our role. So, we get stressed because we’re failing because we don’t know enough to succeed in our jobs. Fortunately, there’s an easy way around it. You can sign up for online courses, conferences, or webinars to learn new tricks for your craft. Reading books, blogs, or forums can allow you to really dive deep into learning your skill set faster. Investing in your professional development is also key because sometimes when we’re stressed at work, our bosses spend less time developing us. So, it’s on us to take initiative to really learn as much as we can to improve our performance. Whether you take an online course that you spend your weekends or evenings on, or spend a few hours at work learning as much as you can, learning is always important at work. And it’ll come in handy should you be forced to find a new job.

learning at work

12. Resign from your job

Work anxiety, bad bosses, and difficult coworkers are some of the common reasons for leaving a job. We saved this for last, because we know how competitive the job search is right now and we know you’re probably trying to problem solve instead of running away. But if you find you’re constantly putting your best foot forward and not getting the positive feedback you need to flourish in your career, resigning from your job might be your only option. You can use Huntr to build your resume, generate cover letters with AI, find mock interview questions tailored to the job you’re applying for, track jobs, and grade your resume with the resume checker.

Nicole Martins Ferreira

Nicole Martins Ferreira

Nicole Martins Ferreira, Senior Writer at Huntr, brings a rich background in marketing, tech, and ecommerce to craft insightful content on job search strategies and career advancement. With experience from Super Magic Taste to Shopify, she excels in creating engaging, actionable advice for job seekers.

Nicole's expertise in SEO and content marketing, honed across diverse roles, enables her to effectively guide individuals through the complexities of the job market. Her contributions at Huntr are vital, offering readers valuable tips and strategies to navigate their professional journeys successfully, making her work an invaluable resource for job seekers everywhere.

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