With an average of one in four people experiencing anxiety at some stage in their life, it’s no surprise that Aussies are experiencing anxiety in the workplace. This has a massive impact not only on the individual, but on the business with 92% of serious work-related mental health condition claims being attributed to mental stress and one in five Australians having taken time off work in the past 12 months because they felt stressed, anxious, depressed or mentally unhealthy.
While mental health is often overlooked, it’s important for businesses and employees alike to recognise that mentally healthy workplaces are just as important as physically safe environments.
Here are some ways to overcomes anxiety in the workplace:
1. Undertake mental health training
This can be done at an organisational and individual level. Becoming educated on the skills and knowledge to manage one’s personal mental health as well as supporting colleagues can reduce absenteeism and improve overall wellbeing.
A report found that for every $1 a workplace spends on making their workplace more mentally healthy, in the longer term they recoupled $2.30 on average.
2. Challenge your thoughts
Negative thoughts can become overwhelming, but they aren’t always a reflection of reality. Our inner voice can seek negative outlooks on situations, particularly within the workplace but actively challenging these scenarios can help manage anxiety.
Check out this Beyond Blue campaign that aims to promote a better understanding of anxiety as a common mental health condition and encourages people to manage their anxiety: Know When Anxiety is Talking
Although you’re not obligated to tell your employer if you are struggling with your mental health in the workplace, it can often result in proactive solutions to anxiety. Informing management about issues with anxiety within the workplace can result in support strategies being put in place. Even speaking to trusted friends or co-workers can ease some of the stress that comes with trying to hide anxiety.
4. Stay physically healthy
Maintaining physical health can be an important part in good mental health. Research suggests that a poor diet has a likely causal link to mental illnesses such as depression and things such as getting enough sleep and exercising regularly can help combat some of the symptoms of anxiety.
5. Take some time off
Many workplaces are now acknowledging mental health days as crucial in keeping healthy. If the workplace is triggering an intense amount of anxiety, stepping away for a brief stint can often help refocus. Whether this involves taking days off work or simply stepping away from the desk for a couple of minutes and going for a walk- removing yourself from the anxiety triggering situation can be helpful in overcoming these negative feelings.
6. Set up a routine
Routines can help you get through daily tasks and deadlines while avoiding unexpected triggers of anxiety. A set routine can ensure small, daily activities are completed without stress and allows you to focus on what’s in front of you and your immediate tasks.
This can also stop anxiety spirals where anxious thoughts continue to build on each other and spiral out of control; by having the next task to focus on, you can ground yourself and put things back into perspective.
7. Seek professional help
Although a level of stress and anxiety within the workplace is normal and often manageable, if it reaches a point where individual coping strategies aren’t helping, professional help is the next step.