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Coping with Anxiety at Work During a Traumatic Time

Fear and anxiety can be overwhelming and lead to stress at work. How you deal with these emotions and stress can affect your well-being, those you care about, and your co-workers.

Woman Feeling Stress

It is natural to feel stress, anxiety, grief, and worry during and after a disaster or traumatic disruption to your daily life. Everyone reacts differently, and even your own feelings can change over time. Notice and accept how you feel.

Job demands, pressure to provide for family and worry about job loss prevent many from seeking help which increases their risk of injury, mental anguish, depression and anxiety.

Taking care of your emotional health during a difficult time will help you think clearly and react to urgent needs to protect yourself and those you care about. It is critical that workers recognize what stress looks like and take the necessary steps to build resilience and manage anxiety at work.

Man with Head in Hand Feeling Stress

Fear and anxiety can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions. It’s important to recognize that everyone reacts differently to stressful situations.

Common symptoms of stress:

  • Feelings of irritation, anger, or denial
  • Changes in appetite, energy, and activity levels
  • Fear and anxiety about the future
  • Headaches, back pain, or stomach problems
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Feeling uncertain, nervous, or anxious
  • Being numb to one’s feelings
  • Lack of motivation
  • Feeling tired, overwhelmed, or burned out
  • Feeling sad or depressed
  • Difficulty sleeping or staying asleep
  • Worsening of chronic health problems or mental health conditions
  • Increased use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs
Emergency stop button that says Stressed Out?

Common work-related factors that can add stress:

The Design of Tasks. Heavy workload, infrequent rest breaks, long work hours and shiftwork; hectic and routine tasks that do not utilize workers’ full potential.

Management Style. Poor communication, dictatorship-style management, no worker involvement in decision-making on the job.

Interpersonal Relationships. Social environment at work that lacks support or the inability to get support from co-workers and supervisors when needed.

Work Roles. Conflicting job expectations, uncertainty about what is expected, too much responsibility.

Career Concerns. Job insecurity, lack of opportunity for promotion. Feelings of guilt or a belief that you are not contributing enough to the job.

Environmental Conditions. Unsafe or unpleasant work conditions such as crowding, noise, air pollution, ergonomic problems or a hostile work environment.

Changes at Work. Too many changes at work without adequate preparation given to workers to adapt. Managing a different workload than you are used to normally.

Tools and Technology. Learning new communication tools and dealing with technical difficulties. Lack of access to the tools and equipment necessary to perform your work.

Work-Life Balance. Taking care of personal and family needs while working full-time.

A worker who seems really stressed out.

You may need to make some changes to help you build resilience and manage job stress.

Identify the specific source of job stress and come up with targeted ideas to eliminate or reduce the exact stressor. Management should be open to hearing ideas from workers that will make the work environment less stressful for employees.

Speak up at work if something is causing stress – often, management will be unaware of the situation and that is the reason nothing has been done to fix it.

At any time, if stressful feelings result in symptoms like fatigue or difficulty concentrating that interfere in your ability to do your job safely, make sure you talk to management so you can work together to come up with solutions that will maintain a safe working environment.

Increase you sense of control by developing a consistent daily routine. Manage your workload and set priority levels for tasks with a realistic work plan. Take a break when you need it.

Know where to find and understand the hazard reporting procedure for your organization and report any safety and health concerns.

Older Gentleman Taking a Walk in the Park

There are things you can do outside of work to help you manage the stress you may feel during the workday:

Take care of your body. Maintain a regular sleep schedule and try to get enough rest. Eat healthy, well-balanced meals. Avoid excessive junk food and caffeine.

Exercise regularly. The body is better able to deal with stress when it is fit, and exercise is often an immediate way to relieve stress.

Spend time outdoors, either physically active or relaxing. Consider practicing mindfulness techniques. Do things you enjoy outside of work hours.

Connect with others. Talk to people you trust about your concerns, how you feel, and how current events affect you.

Check how other people are doing. Helping another improves a sense of control, belonging, and self-esteem. Look for ways to offer support to others.

Avoid too much exposure to news. Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories, including social media.

Seek help when needed. If you feel like you may be abusing drugs or alcohol as a means of coping, or feel like your mental health is suffering, get help.

A family spending time together outdoors.

In our fast-paced world, we all encounter a number of situations that can be stressful...many of which occur at work. Yet workplace stress and its potential to negatively affect people’s job performance is a topic that is often overlooked.

MARCOM's Workplace Stress Video Program helps employees identify potentially stressful situations and learn how to cope with them. The safety video program comes with a quiz, a scheduling and attendance form, a training certificate, and an employee training log. Click the button below to learn more.

Workplace Stress Video Program

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