Common anxieties in the workplace and how to manage them

Anxiety and stress at work are sharply on the rise, and worryingly only a quarter of workplaces are estimated to actually have plans in place to support people should they experience chronic stress. What are the common themes at work that people find anxiety inducing? Tackling these could reduce chances of chronic stress or burnout. We’ve broken down common workplace anxieties and what you can do to support people experiencing them.


When it comes to tackling experiences of anxiety at work, it’s key to think about what it is about the workplace that induces anxiety. Of course, what makes one person feel anxious might not make another person feel anxious, and for people living with a diagnosed anxiety disorder, the support they might need at work will differ completely. But there’s common workplace experiences we go through, that tend to make many of us feel worried or stressed. We’ve identified some of the common themes, and what we can do to help ourselves and others who experience them.

Interviews are something that many of us dread, and are historically purposefully meant to be challenging. But when someone’s anxiety might prevent them from performing to their potential in an interview, we could be unfairly recruiting. What can you do to make interviews feel easier for someone experiencing anxiety?

  • Create a calming environment. If you’re interviewing remotely, this might not be an option, but if you’re conducting in person interviews you’re in a unique position to show your potential new colleague the sort of environment they can expect at work. We tend to interview in boardrooms or formal places, but if possible, why not interview in your workplaces communal or more relaxed area such as the kitchen/dining area or wellbeing room. You could help someone to feel much more relaxed by being in a more natural environment as apposed to a formal boardroom.
  • Be human. Start by having a more informal chat about the person’s day, their background or even the weather, to show your friendly intentions. Jumping straight into interview questions before breaking the ice with someone who might be feeling anxious, can make them feel put on the spot, and they might forget what they were hoping to say. Building repour and a conversation prior to interviewing allows someone the opportunity to relax before they need to start thinking about answers.

Juggling a work-life balance
Many of us are actually stressed and anxious at work not because we’re worrying about work, but because we’re worrying about our home life or other areas of our lifestyle. We spend a lot of time at work, but that doesn’t stop life from continuing. With families, relationships and our personal lives to be thinking about as well as our workload, it’s no wonder that many of us struggle with obtaining a balance of priotising home-life alongside the demands of work. Feeling out of control about any parts of our life, can induce anxiety at work. So, what can be done?

  • Utilise annual leave as a chance to relax and help others to do the same. Some of us are now finding taking annual leave isn’t worth the stress and anxiety we’re left with when it comes to returning to a packed inbox and deadlines. We’ve put together some top tips on how to fully switch off during annual leave, and what fellow colleagues can do to also make things easier for your return.
  • It can induce anxiety when we have different priorities in different areas of our lives. We might have deadlines at work, but there might also be expectations you need to fulfil in your relationship, duties of childcare or the pressure to keep up with your own hobbies and making time for yourself. It can feel like a weight off your shoulders to simply write down everything that is a priority in your life so you can gain a clearer picture of what is of the highest most importance and what can move to lower down ‘the list’.
  • When it comes to a heavy work load, always reach out if you feel you’re sinking, as stress and anxiety can eventually lead to burnout at work. By reaching out to a manager or a colleague, you might be able to distribute workloads or get help identifying key priorities that will allow you to focus on smaller amounts of projects at a time.

Relationships with colleagues
Unlike personal friendships, we don’t necessarily pick and choose who we get to work with. Many of us can therefore find that navigating relationships with other colleagues can induce feelings of stress and anxiety. It can make going to work overall, feel harder and less enjoyable if we feel we have difficult relationships with co-workers. Bullying in the workplace is also said to affect 23% of UK workers, causing people to avoid work or work situations all together. If you’re finding managing difficult relationships at work is making you feel anxious, there’s some steps you can take.

  • Have an honest conversation. Speak to a co-worker privately if they do or say something you find upsetting and have an open conversation about what’s happened. This can often be the quickest way to resolve a disagreement or misunderstanding, by simply communicating with the other person and expressing your feelings.
  • Focus on what’s positive. You might find your working relationship can be straining, but maybe there’s something outside of work you both enjoy or a common hobby you both have? Talking about other non-work related topics together could help improve your relationship and ease feelings of anxiety.
  • Keep a professional distance. Ultimately, if you do find a specific relationship difficult or anxiety inducing, you can keep a distance. You don’t need to friends with everyone at work. You can aim to do your job, be civil, but not spend more time than needed with the colleague.
  • Keep a record of any incidences of that feel like bullying/harassment behaviour. Each incident on its own may seem insignificant but a record of a series of these over time can demonstrate to you and HR if this behaviour is unacceptable in the workplace.

Financial worries and job security
How much we get paid at work or whether we’re guaranteed a pay rise isn’t something we can always control, and especially in times of the cost-of-living crisis, this can induce feelings of anxiety. How we can manage these feelings on unease, relates back generally to how we can manage our mental health when it comes to finance. We’ve broken down some top tips.

  • Share your concerns. We may feel unable to talk to managers about money, but you have a right to know what the future holds for your role or for your salary. You may not be able to get immediate answers, but talking to your manager about your concerns will help them to understand how you’re currently feeling, and they might be able to provide you with some certainty or more information to ease your concerns.
  • When we worry about things that we can’t necessarily control, such as what will happen to our job, it can be useful to adopt self-help techniques that are used in cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) such as taking your thoughts to court.
  • Our Mental Health & Money Advice services recognises that financial difficulty and mental health are interlinked and that the double stigma of mental health and money can be an isolating experience. Our dedicated hub on the cost-of-living crisis has information on how to manage worry in relation to finances.

The journey to work for many of us can induce feelings of anxiety, particularly if you experience panic disorder, or specific phobias surrounding transport, claustrophobia or travelling. Thankfully, many office workers are now able to work more flexibly, and work some days from home. But, when we do need to travel or if you’re unable to work from home, what can we do to make the experience as relaxing as possible, or how can we work in a flexible way that best supports our mental health?

  • Discuss your options with your workplace. If you currently have to commute into work everyday and you know this takes a toll on your mental health, there could be possibility for change. Many workplaces are now favouring hybrid working models due to the inclusive culture they promote. Your workplace might not be aware of the benefits that enforcing flexible working could bring, be it for the organisation or for their employees. Find out more about the benefits of flexible working and discuss with your management what the possibilities could be for your role.
  • Find tools or management tactics that help to calm you. There’s things you can do in the moment to help when you’re feeling anxious whilst commuting. Our guides that can either be done in 5 minutes or 10 minutes, contain practical self-help techniques you can try, to calm down.

Mental Health UK have a plethora of information on how to talk about mental health at work, or if you’re an employer or HR professional, check out how we can work with your organisation to support you, wherever you are in your journey toward creating a mentally healthy workplace.


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