Updated: Jul 25
It was three in the morning, and Shelley awoke with a start. Her heart was thumping in her chest, and her breathing came in tight rasps.
“Am I late for the client meeting?”
“Oh no, I forgot to submit the report to my boss — again.”
“Was it three? — No, four. I need to prepare four items for my presentation.”
Thoughts barraged her mind and made returning to sleep impossible.
“Make them go away, please,” she pleaded to herself.
But the avalanche of thoughts kept rolling into her mind’s eye, and her laundry list of work items only grew longer and longer.
Finally, Shelley grabbed her phone and did the only thing she knew to make the troubling thoughts go away: she began to work.
Does this sound at all familiar to you? Unfortunately, this is the reality for many people coping with workplace anxiety.
According to The Workplace Health Report for 2023, the highest cause of negative stress in the workplace is excessive workload. Workers often feel overwhelmed, stressed, and anxious about meeting deadlines, achieving targets, and keeping up with the demands of their job. For many high-performers and high-achievers, working harder and longer hours is their main way to combat the stress and anxiety caused by an excessive workload. Oftentimes, this solution has worked for them in the past, so it only makes sense to continue to utilize this strategy. Moreover, if the number of work items increases, then the hours spent working need to increase too, right?
the highest cause of negative stress in the workplace is excessive workload
However, despite their best intentions and admirable efforts, this can only be sustainable as a short-term solution. If unaddressed, an excessive workload can lead to burnout and long-term health issues caused by chronic stress.
To overcome this, workers can learn to practice setting clearer boundaries between their work lives and their personal lives. This can be especially difficult when we live in a technological age where colleagues, clients, and managers can reach us outside of work hours. However, it is important to set and maintain these boundaries as a way to take care of your mental health. Some strategies you can implement include setting a “Do Not Disturb” function on your phone and leaving your work laptop on your desk instead of bringing it home.
Moreover, it is important to communicate the appropriate amount of work you can juggle with your supervisors. You may be able to work together and come up with a new schedule with revised deadlines. However, sometimes it’s not the workload or number of hours spent at work that needs to change; rather, some people’s burnout goes away once they’re able to obtain a higher salary to properly reflect the increased work output and results they’ve put in.
Throughout the day, you can also practice relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing or meditation. There are many free resources available that workers can listen to while at their desks, such as our guided meditations that you can access here.
some people’s burnout goes away once they’re able to obtain a higher salary to properly reflect the increased work output and results they’ve put in
Finally, a solution that may be beneficial for anybody who is struggling with workplace anxiety is seeking support from a mentor, coach, or therapist who can help you process your emotions and develop an action plan to resolve your workplace challenges. In hypnotherapy, your therapist would induce a state of deep relaxation and focused attention, which allows you to access and reprogram your subconscious mind. This can be especially beneficial to individuals experiencing anxiety because hypnotherapy can help you learn relaxation and visualization techniques, improve self-confidence and self-esteem, and develop coping strategies to manage stressors both in and out of the workplace.
Overall, by taking proactive steps to manage workplace anxiety, people across all workplaces can improve their mental and emotional well-being. A healthy worker is also one who is more productive, creative, and positive since they tend to be better rested and calmer. Remember: taking care of yourself is not selfish; rather, it is necessary for success in both your personal — and professional — life.