Business psychology services

Business psychology services

Anxiety is a natural response to an environmental stimulus and can be described as a state of apprehension. In an anxious state, we are less productive, more impatient and more likely to feel overwhelmed. Therefore, workplace anxiety is not beneficial to us or our employers. So, I want to explore how we, as individuals and as managers, can reduce it.

Why Do We Feel Anxious?

Anxiety is a response to a perceived threat. As such, we typically feel anxious before significant events, such as a job interview, public speaking or an unexpected meeting with the manager. On these occasions, our heart rate increases, our hands may get sweaty and our mouths might feel dry. Equally, we are more easily distracted, a bit irritable and retaining or recalling information can be a challenge.

Whilst feeling anxious is unpleasant, it should be a transitory state. So, when the experience has passed we regain our natural composure. When we relax, refocus and feel relieved, we may realise that our concerns were not worth worrying about. Unfortunately, modern life can contribute to heightened levels of anxiety. As such, what should be a temporary state can become a personality trait. And, without adequate coping strategies, anxiety can start to hinder our confidence and potential.

In addition, it is recognised that hormonal imbalances make us prone to anxiety. Therefore, it is more likely to be experienced by teenagers and menopausal women, when confidence can already be diminished. Equally, people with neurodiverse conditions can find it harder than others to cope with environmental stimuli, which can increase anxiety levels. So, we all need strategies to help us cope.

Taking Control of Anxiety in Our Breakfast to Bedtime Routine

Fortunately, we can adopt healthy lifestyle habits which help put you back in control. In a recent training session, I explored potential triggers and solutions that we encounter throughout a working day.

Managing Anxiety in the Morning

Rise & Shine! Few of us love waking up to an early alarm call, so the first thought is often coffee or tea to kickstart the day. Unfortunately, we can become reliant on caffeine and this stimulant can aggravate anxiety. Swapping a few cups of tea, coffee, hot chocolate or energy drinks for water, herbal infusions or juice will help you stay calmer.

And You’re Off… The commute is full of roadworks, delays, diversions and noise. On top of that is the fear of consequences if you are late. All of which can trigger anxiety. Therefore, to reduce the impact, leave plenty of time for the journey. And, if possible, request flexible working to travel outside peak times. Listen to your favourite music or a fascinating podcast to focus your thoughts positively.

Managing Anxiety Through the Day

In the Workplace – Planning your day in advance allows you to get straight on task. Equally, it is beneficial to get the worst job out of the way first, so it isn’t constantly on your mind. Get it done and move on. It can also be helpful to set aside specific times to check emails or undertake other routine tasks. That way, you aren’t constantly interrupted throughout the day and you’ll achieve more.

Take a Break! Being productive is great and, if you take allocated breaks, you will be more productive than if you work through. We need breaks to recharge. So, a short lunchtime walk can do wonders for reducing anxiety, boosting oxygen intake and releasing tension.

Media Mayhem – It can be tempting to spend breaks scrolling social channels and the latest news. However, this is a quick-fire way to trigger anxious feelings. The imbalance in favour of shocking news feeds our fears. Couple that with the unrealistic lifestyles on social media and it’s no surprise it makes us feel bad. Be conscious of how much time you spend on these channels and cut it.

Managing Anxiety in the Evening

Evening Routine – How we spare our time impacts our ability to relax. Anxiety-busting activities include exercise, connecting with nature, creative hobbies and time with friends. Also, get into a bedtime routine that helps you sleep.

Night Night! The best way to reduce anxiety is to get 6-8 hours of sleep every night. This is not wasted time, it is essential. That’s because our bodies use this ‘down-time’ to recover, repair and recharge. It equips us to cope with what the next day throws our way.

Actions for Employers to Reduce Workplace Anxiety

A productive workforce is essential for business success. So, how can you reduce anxiety triggers?

Communication style – a positive and engaging communication style is important

Expectations – provide clear information, sufficient resources and trust to empower the team

Feedback – recognise effort and achievement, encourage development and address issues

Breaks – create a company culture where getting away from the desk is encouraged

Meetings – provide a purpose and agenda, so people come prepared

Inclusivity – adapt workspaces to reduce anxiety triggers, especially for neurodivergent employees

Finally, identify causes of anxiety specific to your work environment and employees– our Stress Risk Assessment is a useful tool for this. The team can then collaborate on ways to overcome these. Then, you can reap the rewards of a positive, proactive and productive team.

Change your Routine to Tackle Workplace Anxiety

So, if anxiety has become a trait, rather than a temporary state, it is time to take back control. Small changes in your routine can make all the difference to your physical and mental well-being. So, what action will you implement this week

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