How to Manage Work Anxiety: 10 Tips

Work anxiety can be debilitating, but our 10 tips will teach you how to manage it effectively


Ever find yourself sweating bullets after getting an unexpected email from your boss, or choking from fear when giving a presentation to your colleagues?

If so, you might suffer from work anxiety - anxiety that pops up specifically around your work life.

Left unchecked, work anxiety can have a negative impact on your job performance and job satisfaction. But luckily, there are tips and tricks to help you feel more at ease and in control at work.

What is Work Anxiety?

In order to break down what work anxiety is, it's important to first understand what anxiety is.

Anxiety is an intense, persistent feeling of worry and uncertainty. It causes cognitive symptoms like intrusive thoughts or panic, as well as physical symptoms like rapid heartbeat,

Learn more about the physical symptoms of anxiety.

Work anxiety is anxiety that manifests itself in your work environment, meaning you experience the symptoms of anxiety at work.

Where does it come from? Some people with work anxiety struggle with an anxiety disorder in their everyday life that impacts their experience in the workplace. Otherwise, they may be experiencing anxiety as a result of their workplace environment.

Learn more about anxiety disorders and types of anxiety.

Company culture plays a significant role in work anxiety. Certain kinds of workplace environments are more likely to cause work anxiety than others. Some common factors that can contribute to anxiety in the workplace include:

  • High competition among colleagues
  • Long hours
  • Aggressive management tactic
  • Unrealistic standards and workload
  • Unsatisfactory pay or benefits
  • Insufficient feedback loops
  • Unclear sense of direction or purpose in tasks and initiatives

Signs of Work Anxiety

The first step to solving any problem is identifying that it exists. Now that you know a little bit about work anxiety and where it comes from, making yourself aware of the classic signs of work anxiety can help you recognize it in yourself before it gets out of control.

Work anxiety can look like:

1. Uncertainty about job performance

A common sign of work anxiety is consistent worry about your work output. You may have a hard time feeling satisfied with projects or feel unclear whether you're succeeding in your role, sometimes even in spite of getting positive feedback.

2. Inability to concentrate

If you're preoccupied with worries and intrusive thoughts, it's easy to get distracted from your actual job responsibilities. While dealing with work anxiety, it's common to have a hard time focusing during the workday or get into the habit of procrastinating.

3. Fears of getting fired

One of the most common fears associated with work anxiety is of getting fired. You may feel like you're constantly walking on eggshells at work or like one small slip-up will lead to your termination.

4. Difficulty speaking up

While dealing with work anxiety, you may realize you tend to sit back without contributing during meetings, keeping your thoughts and ideas to yourself to avoid sounding stupid or feeling rejected.

5. Low risk tolerance and letting go of opportunities

Those with work anxiety tend to play it safe with their careers in general. This means you may be too afraid to look for a new job when feeling unsatisfied with your role, to speak up and ask for role changes or pay increases, or to pitch new ideas. In the long run, this can limit your career growth.

How to Manage Work Anxiety

1. Talk to your manager

If you're struggling with work anxiety, having an open conversation with your manager about how you're feeling can be productive. Together you can figure out clearer feedback loops to help you gauge your performance and manage your anxiety.

2. Utilize breathing techniques

When finding yourself in the middle of a particularly anxious moment - like right before an important meeting - you can use breathing exercises to ground you and rid yourself of racing thoughts.

Try our 4 breathing exercises for anxiety relief →

3. Pursue accommodations

Remember that the Americans with Disabilities Act or ADA guarantees individuals with psychiatric disabilities certain rights. If you struggle with an anxiety disorder, it may be worth discussing options for accommodations with a Human Resources representative at your company.

4. Practice gratitude

Taking time to reflect on what you enjoy about your job can help give a sense of purpose to your work that's bigger than you or your anxiety.

Learn more about gratitude and keeping a gratitude journal →

5. Give yourself breaks

Work anxiety can quickly lead to burnout. Make sure to take your PTO and give yourself smaller breaks throughout the day for lunch or a quick walk outside to clear your head to manage feelings of anxiety and burnout.

Learn more about dealing with burnout at work →

6. Pursue balance

Maintaining a healthy work-life balance and making time for fun, relaxing activities outside work can reduce stress and anxiety and make your workload feel more manageable.

7. Cope ahead

If your work anxiety is centered around specific tasks, like leading meetings or giving presentations, planning ahead and thinking through how you can handle unexpected challenges will empower you to handle them confidently.

8. Keep up with healthy habits

Taking good care of yourself - maintaining a healthy diet, getting plenty of sleep, and getting your body up and moving - are extremely effective at reducing stress and anxiety levels overall.

Learn more about how healthy habits can change your life →

9. Set boundaries

Don't be afraid to set boundaries with your employer that will help you reduce work anxiety. This may mean turning off your notifications after the workday ends, or turning down additional work that you don't have bandwidth for.

10. Try journaling

Journaling with a guided journaling app like Jour can help you challenge and work through negative thought patterns associated with work anxiety. Not to mention, it's a fun, easy way to find a moment of calm in your day.

Manage Your Work Anxiety

Work anxiety is anxiety that shows up in the workplace. For some, this means anxiety from their everyday life carries over into your work environment. For others, the work environment may be causing undue stress and anxiety.

Some common signs of work anxiety are trouble concentrating, uncertainty about job performance, turning down opportunities, and difficulties speaking up.

To manage work anxiety, make sure HR and your manager know about any accommodations you need and utilize things like breathing exercises, gratitude, and journaling to help you relax and find your purpose.

And don't forget - next time you're stuck in a particularly anxious moment, the Jour app is waiting for you with content specifically designed to help you relax and manage anxiety around work.

Stay well!