Mental health is being discussed more and more in recent years. Not only are individuals starting to speak up more about their personal mental health challenges, but companies are also starting to recognize the impact that those challenges can have on work performance and job satisfaction.
Dealing with mental health challenges in the workplace can be a challenge in and of itself, whether you’re the employer or the employee. Today, we’re looking at how to deal with one of the most common workplace mental health challenges—anxiety—from both perspectives.
For the employee
If you’re an employee who suffers from anxiety, sometimes it feels like a battle to just get through the day. There are, however, some things you can do to keep your anxiety from negatively affecting your performance. Here are some tips.
Avoid the drama.
Often, anxiety is heightened by workplace drama or politics. It’s easy to feel anxious when everyone around you seems to be gossiping about everyone else or complaining about the boss. It may even make you wonder what is said behind your back, which can be particularly trying if you have social anxiety. Do your best to stay out of the workplace drama, and you’re likely to feel calmer at work.
Ask for help.
Everyone feels overwhelmed by their job at times. If you are overwhelmed to the point that it is going to affect your performance, don’t be afraid to speak up. Be willing to own your responsibilities and to work hard to solve the problem, but also be willing to accept help to get you through a difficult time.
Ongoing communication is crucial to a successful workplace, and it can also help lower work anxiety. When you keep lines of communication open, you’re able to set realistic expectations, collaborate to solve problems, express concerns, and contribute in a meaningful way. All of these things can take the edge off of workplace anxiety as they help you effectively communicate your needs and clear issues before they become serious problems.
Know what calms you down.
It’s helpful to have a strategy for those times when the anxiety is starting to take over. Something like taking a short walk, getting a drink of water, or even just taking a few deep breaths might help you when anxiety is threatening you at work. Find something that works for you, and utilize it whenever you need to.
For the employer
As an employer, you’re bound to come across employees with anxiety from time to time. There are some important things to remember if you want to help those employees succeed at your company.
Remember: the employee is more than his/her anxiety.
Don’t box the employee in as “the one with anxiety.” Focus on performance. What’s most important is that the employee is able to get his/her work done well.
Create a supportive workplace.
A clean, organized office can do wonders to help keep anxiety at bay. Things like comfortable chairs, a well-controlled thermostat, and functional equipment can help (let’s be honest: a terrible copy machine is bad for anyone’s nerves). Even more than this, create a workplace environment that encourages communication and openness. Your employees will follow the standard you set.
Give constructive feedback.
Your employee wants to do good work for you. The only way they can do this is if you give them honest feedback that addresses their work performance rather than their personal character. For example, “You’ve missed three deadlines this month” is better feedback than “You’ve been lazy this month.” Don’t ignore problems, but present them in a way that reinforces the idea that you want the employee to succeed.
Keep it confidential.
Any health problems your employees disclose to you should be kept confidential, including problems related to anxiety. Offer support to the employee as much as you can, but don’t share his/her anxiety with other people in the office. This will build trust between you and the employee, which will be very valuable as you try to help her/him succeed in your company.
Related: How to Avoid Burnout at Work
Anxiety is a real and serious condition for many people, but with some perspective, understanding, and effort, it’s something that can be managed well. Ultimately, the entire office will benefit from developing a culture that is open, vulnerable, and supportive.
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