Overcoming Work Anxiety

Work anxiety is something that affects many people and unfortunately, it is on the rise. A staggering 828,000 people were reported to have suffered from work-related stress, depression and anxiety in 2020. Although this number isn’t surprising; the workplace has seen drastic changes throughout 2020 and following into 2021. From having to work from home to the stress of furlough and job losses, 2020 was not the best year for workers.

The effects of work anxiety can be incredibly damaging; it not only impacts your performance and productivity in your job but it can also take a toll on your confidence and mental health. The average person will spend around a third of their lifetime at work, which is why it’s so important to make work as enjoyable as it can be.

  • Meeting deadlines
  • Dealing with workplace conflict
  • Poor management
  • Heavy workload
  • Lack of connection to the company

Right now, uncertainty is at its highest and there are probably more people suffering from work stress and anxiety than ever before. This is why we wanted to bring you some tips on how to overcome work anxiety and help you bounce back in your career.

Speak up

If you’re experiencing work anxiety the first port of call would be to speak with your manager and to explain how you’re feeling. They can help tackle the root cause of your anxiety and also make changes to act upon it. Remember, a problem shared is a problem halved.

We know that this might be easier said than done for a lot of workers; in fact, it could be management that is the cause of your work anxiety. If you work in a job with poor management structure you may fear about speaking up if you’ve had a manager act hostile with you in the past. If you are nervous about approaching your manager regarding your work anxiety, don’t panic, be professional and remember the skills and talents you bring are irreplaceable.

If you don’t feel comfortable talking to your manager about your work anxiety you could also talk to a trusted colleague. Although they might not be able to make the important changes in the workplace that are needed to help tackle work stress and anxiety, it may still help having someone around who’s aware of how you’re feeling and who you can turn to for help and advice.

Take time off

Feeling overwhelmed and experiencing work stress and anxiety can be a signal to take some time away from your job. Employees that take time off usually have a better work/life balance and avoid work anxiety. It’s also proven to increase productivity, as research shows that having a break from your desk can leave you feeling refreshed and ready to take on new challenges.

Regular breaks

As well as taking time off from work, it’s also important to schedule in regular breaks during your day. Particularly important for those working from home, it can be easy to get sucked into a ‘work-hole’ and before you know it, it’s 5:30 pm and you haven’t ventured away from your screen once.

It’s no secret that working from home can heighten your work anxiety. Previous research found that working from home can leave people feeling paranoid due to the uncertainty of their job status and feeling out of the loop. In order to combat those feelings of work stress and anxiety due to working from home make sure you make time for regular breaks; set aside time for your lunch, coffee breaks.


A key tactic for combatting stress is regular exercise. Studies have shown that regular exercise can work as well as medication for some people suffering from symptoms of stress and anxiety.

Exercise is also great for enhancing productivity levels as it reduces fatigue, improves alertness and increases concentration. According to exercise coach, Steven Harulow, taking a 15-minute walk before you start work increases your heart rate, kick starts your metabolism and helps relieve stress. The perfect start to your day!

Managing Work Anxiety Infographic, Oak Engage, 2021

These are just some of the ways to combat work stress and anxiety; but if you’re on the other side of the problem and you think your employees may be suffering from work anxiety, here are the ways you can help.

Set a manageable workload and achievable deadlines

We all know how important it is to get the jobs done, but piling a mountain of work onto your employees with a strict deadline isn’t the answer. More than likely, your employees will experience work stress and anxiety due to the heavy workload and will end up burning out.

To be an effective manager you should plan a manageable schedule of when tasks need to be completed and prioritise these tasks in order of importance. Apps such as Monday and Trello are perfect for setting targets and deadlines which can be available to all of your workforce.

Open-door policy

Having an open-door policy means that your employees are free to ask you for help and advice whenever needed. The purpose of this is to encourage communication, feedback and discuss any issues the employee may be having. Putting an open door policy in place will show employees that they can speak to management if they’re having any issues and can also eliminate any feelings of work anxiety due to poor management.

Encourage breaks

We touched on the importance of taking regular breaks to tackle work anxiety but as a manager, you should encourage employees to take breaks and use their holiday allowance.

For many workers the thought of asking for time off can ignite feelings of anxiety; there’s the fear that they might be rejected by their manager and also the fear of being judged by other employees. In fact, a recent Glassdoor survey found that 23% of respondents didn’t take all of their holiday allowance and 66% of those that did ended up working during their time off.

The problem here is that many managers need to break the stigma around asking for time off and start by encouraging employees to use their holiday allowance. Make sure you keep on top of this by monitoring employees holiday allowance and if they have an overspill of days left to take let them know and find a time that works best for them.


We’ve all experienced the mounting pressures of work at some point in our lives, but when that pressure is starting to turn into work stress and anxiety, it’s incredibly important that you reach out and get the help you need. Whether you’re reading this and you’re currently experiencing feelings of work anxiety or you’re looking how to ease anxiety for your employees, remember it’s a topic to take very seriously and if not it could have a serious impact on your employees and your business.

Social & Content Executive at Oak Engage. Please follow for content about employee engagement, internal communication and workplace wellbeing.