How To Manage Anxiety About Going To Work

Reviewed by Dawn Brown, LPC, NCC

Published 06/24/2022

Anxiety can manifest in different forms and experienced in different ways concerning specific situations or events. One of the situations that may trigger anxiety in you is "going back to work" after some periods of staying away from work (an extended leave or holidays).  It's very good for both mental and physical health to take time off from work. However, sometimes the thought of going back to work may trigger feelings of anxiety, stress, or dread as you begin to ruminate on what you are going back to— this may include a heavy workload, a long working day, a stressful journey, or difficult commute.

What Is Workplace Anxiety?

Workplace anxiety is an irrational fear that is associated with the stress experienced at work. It is shown to simply mean "the fear of going to work. "  Anxiety and Depression Association of America explains that one of those things that can make a major impact in your workplace is an anxiety disorder. Work anxiety can often be characterized by feeling upset or uneasy when dealing with the stress at the workplace, which relates to your coworkers, superiors, or job duties.

Work anxiety interferes with your performance and relationship in negative ways— for this reason, you are expected to address its symptoms on time. Some of the symptoms of anxiety that may be experienced generally include irrational or inordinate worrying, tiredness, trembling, shaking, sweating, rapid heartbeat, dry mouth, exaggerated startle reaction, strange feelings in your throat (like a lump), and feeling jittery.

Specifically, for workplace anxiety, you may experience symptoms such as overreacting to situations at work, taking time off amount unusually, thinking excessively on the negative part of your job, and difficulty concentrating inability to make deadlines on assignments. To find out if you have symptoms of anxiety, visit this link:

What Are The Causes Of Work Anxiety?

Anxiety does not just develop without a trigger— Most times, something is involved that creates irrational feelings of fear, tension, and worry. In the workplace, several things can make you anxious. It is not unusual for specific situations to bring out the fear in you or create a tension that get you terrified. For instance, the thought of taking a new responsibility or position in the workplace may make you anxious.

Other things that may cause anxiety at work may include:

  • Meeting deadlines on tasks
  • Managing staff
  • Working long hours
  • Dealing with workplace conflicts or bullying
  • Maintaining relationships with coworkers.
  • Having a lack of direction on tasks
  • Handling an overly high workload
  • Dealing with a demanding boss
  • Experiencing a lack of perception of fairness
  • Having a low incentive
  • Feeling an inability to control the work environment

What Are The Effects Of Work Anxiety?

Anxiety can be so disturbing and troubling. It can create discomfort and affect or re-design the way you live your life. When you're dealing with anxiety at work, it can take a toll on different sections of your life. The following are some of the common effects it has:

  • Reduced efficiency and effectiveness concerning job quality and performance
  • Reduced job satisfaction
  • Rejection of opportunities because of phobias such as fear of speaking meetings, fear of flying, or fear of public.
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Fatigue and irritability
  • Reduced confidence in your skills
  • Relationship problems with a romantic partner, superiors, and coworkers
  • Reduced achievement and goal setting
  • Isolation
  • Job loss
  • Reduced social skills

How To Deal With Anxiety At Work?

Anxiety is a global mental experience. After taking time off, many individuals feel anxious when they think about going back to work. This feeling of anxiety associated with the stress at the workplace can make them feel overwhelmed to the extent that they may find it difficult to cope.

Feelings of tension, worry, or fear are natural and common experiences. One out of six people is claimed to have the tendency to experience stress and anxiety at a certain point in time. However, anxiety can become severe when it begins to affect or interfere with some important aspects of your life. It is advisable to seek ways to deal with it when the quality of your life is extremely affected. You can start by reducing anxiety by identifying the triggers of stress that lead to rising anxiety levels at work. There is a possibility that some events, such as dealing with clients, coworkers, or customers, may lead to a work-related social phobia.

The following are other ways you can effectively deal with anxiety in the workplace:

  • Preparedness

    Doing perfect homework can greatly be of work. How? One of those things that can make you feel anxious about going back to work after taking time out is the thoughts of handling a heavy workload. You can calm your nerves or making it less challenging by preparing for it. In a single statement, good preparation may put your mind at rest and relieve you of worries. Your preparation can be before going away— you can get every task done to avoid facing a pile of work when you return. In addition, you can make for yourself to-do lists and strictly follow every chosen routine.
  • Plan Enjoyable Things After Returning To Work

    Becoming too serious with your life can result in feeling overwhelmed sometimes. Assumably, you had a great time during your holiday, and when it's time to return to work, you decided to drop all fun totally — this may have some effects on your mental health. That you're working shouldn't stop you from having some enjoyable moments such as visiting the pub for a drink after work with friends/ colleagues, making arrangement to hang out with friends during the weekend, or reaching out to your work colleague and discuss your worries — any of these can reduce your level of tension, worry fear, or dread.

  • Try To Set Realistic Goals

    It's always good to be real with yourself by making your pursuit towards what you can achieve within a few days you get back to office rather than placing too much work on your shoulders. Be kinder to yourself by drawing wise plans— break the work down into smaller periods to make it easy to be dealt with and not to see it as a big task that may trigger your anxiety.

  • Focus On The Positives

    Consistent thinking about the negative things you experience at the workplace may incessantly stimulate feelings of worry, tension, or fear. However, when you frequently set your mind on the things and people you enjoy at work, you can reduce your anxiety level. You can put into writing what you enjoy doing, such as problem-solving, being a team member, helping others, or dealing with tasks. You can also think about people and activities that make you feel really good about yourself or impact your life. These can include your friends and hobbies.
  • Engage In A Healthy Lifestyle

    How you handle the way you live your life has a lot to do with your health (physical and emotional). Your lifestyle encapsulates every step you take while alive, including how you take care of your body. So, the question is, “how can you properly take care of your body, and how can the care impact your physical and emotional feelings?” You can do this by encouraging good eating habits and trying relaxation techniques. You must know that the food you take in plays a vital role in dealing with anxiety and stress levels. Studies claim that your feelings, such as anxiety and stress, can affect your digestive systems. So, when you take a healthy diet, your feelings are impacted.

  • Engage Yourself In Mindfulness

    Do you know why the word "irrational" is used in describing anxiety? This is because it is not logical— imagine how it sounds to project ahead and worry about the uncertainties (what you probably may face after your time off). To deal with anxiety about going back to work, you may try mindfulness to gain awareness of your surroundings — this can greatly help connect you with the present moment and improve your mental health.

    One of the important things you will be instructed to do during mindfulness is to practice deep breathing, helping reduce your feelings of worry, tension, fear, or dread. Try to breathe in via your nasal cavity and out via your buccal cavity; focus on your chest (rising and falling) — you can do this for 180 seconds.

    Generally, exercise is usually considered as part of the treatment program for mental health challenges. It is an effective way to relieve stress and exercise. During exercise, endorphins (brain chemicals) are releases that help boost your mood. Actually, and the thoughts of going back to work can increase the levels of stress. Still, you should try to create time for physical activity such as yoga (yoga video can be appropriate because of the limited available time), a walk around the house, or a short gym class— this can help deal with the feelings of back-to-work anxiety.

  • Have A Reasonable Discussion With Your Boss

    The thoughts of going back to work after taking time out to face relationship problems with your superiors can trigger your feelings of worries. These relationship problems may emanate from the heavy workload placed on your shoulders. You may want to speak with your boss to explain how it has affected you and the better way the work can be done.

    If the problem is associated with the commute (depending on the kind of job you do), you may want to ask for a flexible way to work, such as working from home once or twice a week.
  • Seeking Professional Help

    Anxiety can be overwhelming most times. It can lead to more serious mental health challenges if not dealt with appropriately. You may need to seek professional assistance if you are frequently struggling with depression and anxiety because of thinking about going back to work after taking time off.

    Going through diagnosis to confirm the state of your mental health will determine the right form of treatment that will be recommended by your doctor— you may be told to see a therapist or take some medications. A licensed therapist can greatly help reduce your level of tension, worry, or fear. For instance, cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is one of the best ways to deal with your condition and learn skills that will make you improve your mental health. A trained therapist or counselor is known to offer a space that is confidential, private, and judgmental-free.
  • Join A Support Group

    There are support groups where you can meet different people with a similar condition to yours. So telling them about your worries can reduce the level of your anxiety. You can speak with your therapist about the best group you can join.

  • Talk With Your Loved Ones

    Your loved ones can include your family and friends. Telling your family member and your close friend about what you are going through relatively to what you feel about going back to work after taking time out can improve your mental well-being.


It is always good to know as early as possible that you have anxiety before it becomes a disorder. To determine if you may have anxiety, take our quick online test: