woman at desk anxiety

How is Anxiety Affecting Work Performance?

Being anxious in the workplace is normal, and even desirable to a degree. Anxiety is very common. It can be a demonstration of being responsible and wanting to do things as best as you can, whether that’s meeting your deadlines or acing that presentation.

Granted, there will be heavier days when you’ll need to roll with the punches. For some employees, however, those days are constant. Going to work becomes exhaustive, and relatively simple tasks become a source overwhelm.

As you know, the after effects of chronic anxiety linger far beyond the workplace, even if that workplace is home. If you suspect your anxiety may be affecting your performance at work and in other areas of your life, you may relate to the scenarios we’re about to discuss.

woman at desk anxiety

How much stress is too much?

A tiny bit of stress isn’t bad for your health, researchers have found. It can both improve your performance at work and contribute to good health.

That would be great news if the reported level of stress in adults wasn’t higher than what’s considered a “healthy” stress amount. What’s supposed to be a feeling of increased alertness becomes a snowball of mental and physical turmoil.

If you’re wondering at which side of the spectrum you’re on, the following are telltale signs of high work-related stress levels:

  • Feeling too tired to function, and depending heavily on stimulants to get work done.
  • Taking your frustrations out on family members, even though they have nothing to do with the situation.
  • Having family and/or friends comment on your behavioral changes, such as visible tiredness and irritability.
  • Being unable to turn your mind off work.
  • Having trouble focusing, and/or being unable to focus on just one task at a time.

Being in a persistent peak of anxiety and stress is poison to your body and, consequently, to your performance at work.

How does anxiety affect work performance?

No one can do their best work after a sleepless night — or several. After a while, the symptoms of anxiety come creeping in and start affecting your professional life, little by little. There’s no way around it: the more anxious you are, the worse your performance will be at work.

Persistent anxiety brings symptoms like headaches, insomnia, general fatigue, brain fog, and flu-like symptoms, to name a few. This, in turn, can lead to difficulty in staying focused and suboptimal functioning.

Yet, these are only the short-term consequences of anxiety. The long-term consequences are even more dangerous, including a rise in blood pressure, an increased risk of heart disease, and a compromised immune system. Getting affected by any of these implications could mean less work and more sick days.

man working - anxiety

Ways to cope with anxiety and increase productivity

In order to circumvent any or all of the complications above, the first step is learning how to cope with anxiety. If you’d like to dive even deeper into this topic, we’d recommend the article The Keys to Managing Stress at Work  . For now, here are a few things that will help you:

Plan ahead

The days become much less overwhelming when there are fewer surprises along the way. If what’s keeping you up at night is a fear of having to deal with unexpected tasks, you’ll gain an advantage by planning your workday in the morning.

Whether you prefer using to-do lists, planners, or productivity tracking apps, it’s up to you. As long as you list your tasks for the day and complete them without burning yourself out, you’ve won. Plus, progressively completing smaller chunks of bigger tasks can help you avoid procrastinating later on.

Don’t sacrifice sleep

Hustle culture has a lot of us thinking that the less hours we sleep, the harder we work. In reality, that mindset is the recipe for burnout.

There’s a science to productivity, and a good night’s sleep is behind it. A study has shown that sleepless nights may raise anxiety by 30%, and that deep sleep is a powerful anxiety reliever. For this reason, you should try to get at least six hours of sleep if eight hours feel like a lot, and make sure your nights are restorative.

And if sleep is a constant battle for you, there’s no harm in talking to your GP about it. They can help support you to get good quality sleep in a range of ways.

Speak to your boss about your anxiety

Any company worth working for will put their employees’ health first. If your work performance is decreasing because of anxiety, that’s not good for you or the company. In this case, the best course of action might be reaching out to your employer to address the issue.

While it may seem daunting to do so, your boss could help you find the help you need. If you need support to take care of your mental wellbeing or even professional help, they may be able to provide it. With that in mind, don’t be afraid to let them know what’s happening.

On a final note, doing more than you can cope with isn’t something to be celebrated. So take a much-needed breather when you’re off work, particularly on weekends. After all, you need your health to be at its prime if you want to perform your best.

anxiety - man with head in hands

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