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Combating Workplace Anxiety as a Shift Worker

What is Workplace Anxiety?

Workplace anxiety is a form of emotional distress associated with actual or anticipated pain related to your job. Many people experience it and use different tactics to deal with workplace anxiety. This is something experienced by people not only working night shifts but regular shifts as well.

What are the causes of workplace anxiety?

You can experience workplace anxiety in any job, and it can come from a variety of causes:

  • You do not have the necessary resources to do your work effectively
  • You are in a toxic work environment led by an abusive boss or co-worker
  • You are underemployed and/or your salary is insufficient
  • You don’t like the industry you’re working in
  • You feel stuck in the same job, and this makes you anxious
  • You lack the necessary skills or knowledge to do your job effectively.

The unknown can be stressful, especially if you feel pressured to get results quickly. You may also experience anxiety in a new job. This could be due to the fear of living up to the expectations of a new position or boss.

How can I know if I have workplace anxiety?

Workplace anxiety is expressed differently in each person. But here are some common symptoms:

  • A feeling of fear that something is really wrong or that something terrible is going to happen
  • Obsession with routine, which can lead to excessive control over your space or your tasks/responsibilities
  • Intense attention can suddenly turn into an inability to focus and stay on task

If you have changed your behavior at work or regularly exhibit any of the above symptoms, you may have workplace anxiety.

Tips for managing anxiety at work

1. Identify the source of your anxiety

Understanding your circumstances better will help you figure out whether or not you can adapt. While some work problems can be handled, others are so important that changing jobs is probably the best solution.

If you don’t like the industry you’re working in, your workplace anxiety probably won’t go away until you change your type of work. If an outside force (such as an abusive boss or co-worker) is the source of your job anxiety, you probably won’t feel better until one of you leaves the workplace. Depending on where you work, some companies offer Employee Assistance Programs and other services to help you deal with this type of difficulty.

2. Organize your workday

Make a to-do list, with breaks, to organize your work tasks. When you complete some tasks, reward yourself. This approach can help motivate you to complete tasks that you would otherwise avoid doing.

3. Define a timeframe

Knowing that work anxiety doesn’t have to last forever is excellent peace of mind. Be honest about how long you’re willing to deal with your job anxiety before taking a more significant step, like changing jobs.

4. Exercise

Try to fit 30-60 minutes of exercise into your daily routine. This can help you clear your mind and free yourself from the bad feelings associated with job anxiety. Consider going to the gym before work. If you must, go afterward, or you can go for a walk, bike ride, or even dance. Talk to your doctor before starting a new exercise program.

5. Work from home

If your job allows it, you can minimize your exposure to a stressful work environment by working from home a few days a week. Stress commonly decreases in your environment, and you can focus more.

6. Focus on your own goals

Define what you want to achieve in your profession. This can help minimize the effects of a toxic work environment. Excitement about the future can help you refocus, and problems that arise may be temporary inconveniences on the way to achieving a better and more important goal.


Figuring out how to manage anxiety at work is a very different process for everyone. Start by identifying the cause of your workplace anxiety: is it due to a job you’ve been in a long time, or is it anxiety about a new job? Narrowing down the possibilities can help you focus on possible solutions to managing stress.

If workplace anxiety is impacting your physical health or if you have concerns about your mental health, always consult your doctor or seek appropriate treatment from a qualified behavioral health practitioner.

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