Byline: DIANA BENLTEY
WE HAVE all experienced anxiety at work; the alltoofamiliar scenarios of demanding customers, too much work and too little support. This can take a toll on our performance in the office and our health. According to official figures, work-related anxiety and depression are the main causes of absenteeism.
But how often do we reflect on how we can improve our lot? Not as much as we should, say the experts, who recommend that we be more aware of workrelated anxiety and its effects.
Far from being something that appears of its own accord, anxiety arises from definite causes, which should be addressed in conscious and constructive ways.
But what is the difference between stress and anxiety? "Stress is a general biologic state of being overstimulated," says Phillip Hodson, a Fellow of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy. "Anxiety usually has a specific mental focus - you're worried about poor performance, losing your job or failing at a specific task."
Bullying, systematic marginalisation through factors such as sexual or racial prejudice, or public ridicule of failure can prompt anxiousness. The range of symptoms is wide, says Hodson, and can include rashes, shortness of breath, nervous twitches, backache, eating disorders and insomnia.
Dealing with anxiety at work is a twopart process. The first is to look after your physical self - eat healthy food, take exercise, have fun. Plenty of sleep, hobbies and loving relationships are all also important.
But the second way of dealing with anxiety is cognitive and involves a deliberate assessment of how you cope with challenging situations. Anxiety symptoms are exacerbated or diminished according to how we behave and think, says Dr Sallee McLaren, a clinical psychologist.
Several approaches can prompt change, she says. "It helps if you develop some mental discipline; then you can resist entering into any worrying thoughts, which only worsen anxiety. …