Read This If You’re a High Achiever with Workplace Anxiety

workplace anxiety high achievers
| Mind & Body > Mental Health

You walk through the front doors of your office with a cup of coffee in one hand and a stack of files in the other. As you head over to your desk, you become attuned to the sweatiness in your palms and the pounding feeling in your chest. You settle in your chair and brace yourself for the long day of work ahead. While you may look put together on the outside, you’re dealing with tremendous amounts of internal stress. But this isn’t unusual for you — it’s an everyday routine.

If you’re a self-proclaimed high achiever struggling with a bad case of workplace anxiety, you’re not alone. It can be overwhelming. Some anxiety can help keep your sense of drive in check, but it can also take a toll on your well-being and happiness at work.

What Does Workplace Anxiety Look Like?

Whether you’re a freelance writer, a physician’s assistant or an office secretary, we’re willing to bet that you’ve heard the sentence, “I’m stressed,” uttered more than once by your fellow colleagues.

But while it’s common to hear of work-related stress, what exactly does workplace anxiety look like and how do you know if you have it?

Even those with a high-functioning form of anxiety are likely to experience the common anxiety symptoms that are characteristic of this mental health issue. The side effects of workplace anxiety can include:

  • Sweaty palms
  • Weakness
  • Lethargy
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Heart palpitations
  • Feeling restless, nervous or on-edge
  • Gastrointestinal upsets

While a worker with work-related anxiety may seem externally fine, they may deal with daily anxious thoughts that manifest in the form of any of the symptoms outlined above.

Some Anxiety Can Be Beneficial

If you thought you’d read this article and feel even worse about your workplace anxiety, you may want to think again. While those sweaty palms and persistent thoughts may feel as though they’re doing you more harm than good, there are a few perks you’re likely to enjoy because of your anxiety, too.

A research study examining the impact of anxiety on a worker’s performance found that at times, anxiety can boost performance levels and help an employee stay motivated while fulfilling their daily tasks.

When a late-night assignment comes in, or your work seems to pile up, your desire to achieve can help you persevere and actually conquer these tasks. You may find that a high-achieving personality coupled with a tendency to worry can help push you into being more productive, too. But when an individual’s anxiety pushes them to achieve unrealistic expectations, they may struggle to find the sense of fulfillment that they rightfully deserve, which is when workplace anxiety becomes very negative.

Success at a Cost

There are several cases where I’ve thought to myself, “If it weren’t for my anxiety, I would have never completed this assignment on time.” But while I’ve come to appreciate the added push that my feelings of anxiousness give me, it’s important to acknowledge that this success typically comes at a cost, too.

For some people, workplace anxiety feels like having the weight of the world — or the office — on their shoulders. While they may hit their performance expectations, they’re likely to feel emotionally worn out by the time they hit these goals. If you find yourself burying anxious feelings in the name of success at the workplace, it may be time to develop a plan to work through these feelings in a more productive way.

When It’s Time to Ask for Help

Since nearly 44 million adults have a mental health condition, workplace anxiety may be a lot more common than you think. While you may feel alone in your struggling, it’s vital never to invalidate your feelings nor is it helpful to believe that you’re fighting this battle alone.

If your workplace anxiety is interfering with your daily sense of happiness or it begins to take a toll on your overall sense of wellbeing, consider scheduling an appointment with a therapist. With the guidance of a professional mental health professional, you’ll be in a position to learn coping mechanisms to help transform the way you deal with stress and work-related feelings of anxiety.

Stress happens to everyone, and it can be a perfectly normal response for employees — especially when they’re high achievers who sometimes already push themselves too hard to do their best. Remember to stop and take a breather from time to time, and find a way to manage your everyday worries in a way that doesn’t interfere with your inner sense of peace of happiness, too.

Ways to manage your anxiety in the workplace

These are not rules. They are simply elements to consider…

Be realistic. If you are being given more work than you can handle, explain to your line manager that you’ve been over-extended, and suggest tasks you think are high priority with the most useful outcomes to focus on from your list of things to do.

Ask for help. Coworkers help each other. You can ask for extra support from a coworker or line manager, and help them in return when it’s their turn to feel overwhelmed.

Take breaks. Fresh air and a change of pace and focus can help. Take your Pokemon Go out at lunchtime, or walk around your area to see if you can find a little shop or cafe you’ve never visited before. Or just recharge somewhere with your book or phone.

Consider your body fuel. Sugar is a treat. Coffee may be your great love, but you could benefit from spacing it out with water and herbal teas or juices. Do have a lunch of some kind, even when it feels too busy and you’re tempted to keep working through lunch.

Learn about your needs. Learn to recognise your symptoms and possible triggers, so that you can acknowledge what you’re experiencing as it happens. Knowing your symptoms can help you prepare, adjust and soothe as needed.

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