Anxiety in the workplace is common and can quickly lead to worsened performance, job insecurity, or serious mental health consequences that follow you home. However, if your job has become a place that provokes these feelings of workplace anxiety, there are steps you can take to manage it.

Here is what you need to know about workplace anxiety and what you can do to address it.

What Is Workplace Anxiety?

The workplace is often a source of stress. It’s completely normal for people to struggle with the demands of work from time to time, but when this stress becomes overbearing, constant, and anxiety-provoking, it’s often a sign that changes need to be made to preserve your mental health.

Workplace anxiety can quickly lead to a downward spiral of negative emotions and mental health symptoms. With most people working five days a week, constantly exposing yourself to the source of your anxiety can become too much stress to handle. The anxiety builds and builds, and a two-day weekend often isn’t enough to recuperate.

But perhaps the most pernicious component of workplace anxiety is that it can follow you home. The stress of getting your work done on time, meeting your deadlines, or fulfilling quotas can stay with you while you’re trying to relax and unwind and ultimately lead to worsening mental health symptoms that become your new baseline.

Common Symptoms of Workplace Anxiety

Workplace anxiety can have a number of different symptoms and signs. Some of the most common symptoms of workplace anxiety include:

  • Frequent worry about your work tasks
  • Irritability with your coworkers
  • Muscle tension
  • Loss of interest in your work
  • Trouble staying organized or remembering important events
  • Fear of losing your job
  • Avoidance of certain coworkers
  • Feeling like you have to be perfect in your work tasks

While workplace anxiety is often focused on being productive enough, it can actually interfere with your productivity. Spending time worrying about being “good enough” or getting things done on time may hinder your ability to perform at your best.

This is all in addition to the personal toll that workplace anxiety takes. The buildup of stress from workplace anxiety can often lead to the development of a mental health disorder. And while developing an anxiety disorder is the most common consequence, workplace anxiety can also lead to the development of depression or substance misuse.

Causes of Workplace Anxiety

Any number of factors can contribute to workplace anxiety. The causes of workplace anxiety are both internal and external, which means that they may be attributed to your own predispositions or the circumstances of your workplace.

Among others, some causes of workplace anxiety include:

  • Long work hours
  • Poor relationships with your bosses or coworkers
  • A high level of work demands
  • Tight deadlines
  • A high-pressure environment
  • An untreated, underlying anxiety disorder
  • Work presentations

Some of the causes of workplace anxiety are unavoidable, while others can be reduced or managed through a few simple changes.

You don’t necessarily need to remove every source of workplace anxiety to find relief. You only need to bring your levels of workplace stress down to a more manageable level, where it doesn’t start to interfere with your everyday life.

How to Manage Anxiety at Work

There are several different tools that employees or employers can implement to reduce workplace anxiety. But not every method works for everyone — and you need to decide what will work for you in your path to resolving workplace anxiety.

Take on Less

One of the simplest — but not always the easiest — ways of reducing workplace anxiety is to take on less at the workplace. This may mean turning down new projects, scheduling some time off, or speaking to your supervisor about taking a step back from certain responsibilities.

As people progress in their careers, it’s common for their workload to continue to expand over time. And while you may be capable of a great deal, everyone has a limit. If you feel like you’ve begun to exceed that limit, reducing the amount of responsibilities you have can go a long way toward reducing workplace anxiety.

Set Boundaries

A similar concept for reducing workplace anxiety is learning to set healthy boundaries. This includes setting boundaries with both your supervisor and your coworkers around what you can and cannot perform in the workplace.

Setting boundaries is, for the most part, a practice of learning to say “no.” And as simple as this concept can be, it can be extremely difficult for people in the workplace to implement. When there is pressure to perform at a high level or be a reliable employee, it’s common for people to want to acquiesce to their supervisor’s every demand.

Learning to set boundaries isn’t always easy. To get you started, here are a few examples that can help you in reducing workplace anxiety:

  • “Sorry, I can’t take on that project this week. I have availability next week; would that work for you?”
  • “I won’t be able to attend that meeting; I have a prior commitment that takes precedence.”
  • “Thanks for the invitation, but I won’t be able to attend. I have plans with my family that night.”
  • “Sorry, I’m not able to chat right now. I have a lot of work on my plate to get done.”

While some people may worry that turning down their supervisor or coworker’s requests may send a negative message, it’s often the best path to increasing your own productivity. If you frame your boundaries in this way, others are likely to see the importance of these boundaries in your personal workflow.

Take Breaks

One of the common issues contributing to workplace anxiety is overworking. If you find yourself consistently working through lunch, skipping breaks, or working for several hours on end, scheduling time for a break can go a long way toward relieving much of the anxiety you feel in the workplace.

It might seem that staying focused on your work for extended periods is beneficial to getting all your work done on time, but several studies have found the opposite is the case.

Taking regular breaks and alternating between high-focus and unfocused tasks can increase your productivity and give you a moment of rest during the day.

Talk to a Supportive Coworker

Social support can dramatically reduce the experience of workplace anxiety. If you have a supportive or understanding coworker, sharing your stress with them may be a great way to find out new strategies to employ at work to stay on track or ways that your coworker deals with the same challenges.

A problem shared is a problem halved. Simply sharing your stress with someone who understands can go a long way to reducing your anxiety and can open the door for a deeper social connection to the people you are closest with.

Delegate Tasks

If you are in a supervisory position yourself, learning to delegate tasks can help minimize the workplace anxiety you feel. Again, this doesn’t always come naturally to people. Some supervisors try to consistently lead at the front, take on the most work, and try to set an example to their subordinates by always staying busy.

While this is often a great strategy for leadership, it begins to fall apart if you experience a perpetual state of workplace anxiety as a result. By delegating less important tasks to subordinates and starting to take your hands off of the reins in certain areas, you can drastically reduce your own stress levels.

Stay Organized

Time management and organization are two of the most essential skills for anyone in the workplace. By keeping a detailed and accurate calendar, scheduling your productive hours accordingly, and staying ahead of your tasks, you can prevent the feeling of getting overwhelmed in the workplace.

Use Your Benefits

Most companies have substantial support mechanisms in place for those experiencing workplace anxiety. Many employers and organizations recognize that workplace anxiety will lead to unhappy employees and reduced productivity which will ultimately affect the bottom line.

Investigate your current benefits for what may be able to help. Employee assistance programs (EAPs) or benefits such as gym memberships or skill-building courses may help take the edge off workplace anxiety.

Try Stress-Relieving Activities

Certain activities outside of work can dramatically reduce the impact of anxiety at work. Lifestyle habits such as eating a healthy diet, getting regular exercise, or engaging in mindfulness practices can all be incredibly stress relieving and leave you better equipped to handle the challenges that the workday brings.

Reach Out for Professional Help

If you’ve already tried several of these techniques and are still experiencing a number of side effects of workplace anxiety, consider reaching out to a mental health professional for support.

Working with a therapist or psychiatrist can help you identify whether your workplace anxiety has developed into a mental health disorder, or simply help you learn new strategies to manage your anxiety when it occurs.

Do I Have an Anxiety Disorder?

Anxiety disorders are exceptionally common in the United States. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, approximately 19.1% of Americans are living with an active anxiety disorder at any given time.

There are several different types of anxiety disorders. Some of the most common include:

  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD): Feeling a general sense of anxiety about the everyday aspects of life
  • Panic Disorder: Experiencing frequent and debilitating panic attacks
  • Social Anxiety Disorder: Having an exaggerated fear and worry of social situations, such as giving a presentation at work or going to work-related functions

For many people, an underlying anxiety disorder may be the root cause of workplace anxiety. However, finding out whether you have one of these disorders typically requires the help of a trained mental health professional, who can provide a detailed assessment and accurate diagnosis.

Treatment for Anxiety Disorders

Regardless of whether you have a diagnosed anxiety disorder or not, workplace anxiety can cause real difficulties in many areas of your life. Finding evidence-based treatment for your anxiety can be an effective way of finding relief, and thankfully, there are several different treatment varieties available.

Some of the best treatment options for anxiety include:

While each treatment type takes a different approach, each can be a valuable tool in your path to a lasting recovery.

Start Treatment at Plus by APN

Plus by APN offers a comprehensive suite of services to help people break free from workplace anxiety, stress, or other mental health challenges. Our team uses both traditional and innovative techniques to help you find the road to recovery and achieve the treatment goals you need to return to holistic mental health.

Fill out our confidential online form or contact our team by calling 424.644.6486 to get started today.


  • “Anxiety Disorders.” NAMI, Accessed 9 Mar. 2024.
  • Borwin Bandelow, Sophie Michaelis & Dirk Wedekind (2017) Treatment of anxiety disorders, Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience, 19:2, 93-107, DOI: 10.31887/ DCNS.2017.19.2/bbandelow