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Workplace Stress and Anxiety

Adele Wilde

Counsellor and Psychotherapist
Perth, Western Australia

Are you experiencing any of the following work-related stressors?

  • Heavy work load, time pressure, deadlines
  • Bad management practices
  • Role conflict
  • Lack of support
  • Organisation culture
  • Low control (with low autonomy and authority)
  • Low rewards (money, esteem, career or promotional opportunities)
  • Long hours
  • Management change
  • Physical work environment
  • Work relationships (poor relationships with colleagues or bosses)
  • Harassment
  • Crisis incidents, such as workplace death or armed holdups
  • Duty changes
  • Over supervision
  • Insufficient skills for the job
  • Job insecurity
  • Discrimination

Life places demands on all of us that stretch our personal psychological resources. A manageable degree of stress makes us stronger and generally matures us. A level of stress that is at the limit of, or beyond, one’s resources to cope with can lead to such a degree of anxiety that physical and emotional health is threatened or damaged. The workplace is an arena where there can be stressful dynamics and situations. This stress can lead to serious levels of anxiety that can become chronic and feel overwhelming.

What one person may perceive as stressful, another may view as challenging. Whether a person experiences work related stress depends on factors such as the job, the person’s psychological make-up, general health and personal life.

Some of the more common symptoms of workplace anxiety include:

  • Avoidance of tasks relating to giving presentations, contributing verbally at meetings, returning phone calls. Also, avoidance can be behind not completing tasks, missing deadlines, procrastination, distraction, loss of interest in work, not attending work social events, taking an increasing number of days off.
  • Physical and psychological symptoms including sleep problems, excessive fatigue, mood swings, trouble concentrating, social withdrawal, experiencing shortness of breath and racing heart when thinking of work, headaches and muscle tension, stomach problems, feeling unusually emotional –tearful, angry, or irritable, pessimistic, depressed, feeling overwhelmed and unable to cope, using alcohol or drugs in order to cope.
  • Obsessing and worrying that your mind will go blank or you will fail in some way when, for example, talking with the boss, giving presentations, or during performance appraisals. One may obsess about blushing, sweating, stammering, or appearing noticeably nervous. One may start obsessing about a particular task, trying to get it just right to the point that the task gets more attention than it deserves.

Anxiety is a fear-based response that may be triggered when we feel confronted with situations in life that threaten us in some way. A threat, (real or imagined) which is not resolved quickly, can lead to a chronic state of anxiety. A chronic anxiety state will inevitably take its toll on one’s happiness, productivity, energy level, rationality, and capability. One becomes controlled by anxiety and stress. Sometimes such stress causes perceptions to become distorted and a form of mild paranoia with feelings of persecution can develop.

Workplace stress and anxiety often carries over into a person’s personal life, and can affect relationships outside the workplace.

Avoidance is a common response to anxiety. Anxiety leading to avoidance behaviours in the workplace though, can have consequences both on a personal level and for the organisation.

The loss to the individual may include, missed opportunities for professional advancement, financial loss, decreased personal wellbeing and self-esteem, and deteriorated professional relationships. For the organisation, a stressed and anxious workforce usually means lower productivity.

If you are feeling overwhelmed, and concerned about the level of anxiety you are experiencing in your work life, talking through the issues with someone supportive and empathic can be a first step toward dealing with the anxiety.

You can contact Adele by phone or email if you would like more information, or make an appointment.

Phone: 0439 324 703

Email: adele.wilde@gmail.com

Adele Wilde
Counsellor and Psychotherapist

Mt Lawley Counselling Centre
13 Alvan Street
Mt Lawley Western Australia 6050

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