Getting anxious about how one is performing at work is a normal emotion. Given the fact that our careers are tied to our income, sense of stability and a large part of our wellbeing, it is understandable that many become nervous about the consequences which could result from making a mistake at work. However, some people experience higher levels of anxiety about this than others, impacting their self-esteem, sleep schedule and overall health (Bajaj-Mahajan, 2020).
Performance-related anxiety at work is a pervasive issue in our society today, and the issue has only become more glaring since the COVID-19 pandemic (People HR, 2022). Employees everywhere are seeing their mental health suffer due to workplace stress, but they often lack the strategies to address this problem (People HR, 2022).
If you are considering a career as a clinical counsellor, you will be qualified to help clients suffering from workplace anxiety. You will work with them to develop strategies to overcome their anxieties and establish a healthier relationship with work. Below, learn more about what workplace anxiety is, why it happens and how you can help clients to overcome it.
Why Does Workplace Performance Anxiety Occur?
During your career as a clinical counsellor, you’ll likely work with those exhibiting symptoms of workplace performance anxiety. Workplace performance anxiety is the concern surrounding the quality, content and delivery of what an employee produces at their place of work (People HR, 2022). Performance anxiety in the workplace can be caused by a lack of confidence or self-esteem, and can often manifest during presentations, meetings or important calls (Bajaj-Mahajan, 2020).
Often, this form of anxiety occurs because employees worry too much about how their managers or colleagues will perceive their work, even though there might not be a problem with the work itself (People HR, 2022). Performance anxiety may also be the result of imposter syndrome or insecurity rooted in the fear that one’s colleagues may discover that they are underqualified for the position (Kalish, 2020). Anxiety at work can also be made worse by conditions at the workplace, such as a stressful environment, long hours and a lack of communication or support (Laguaite, 2021).
Negative Outcomes Associated With Workplace Anxiety
Experiencing anxiety at work can create many problems for employees. The fear of not performing well can cause heightened awareness of an employee’s actions, causing them to make mistakes or suffer from disruptions while completing their tasks (Kalish, 2020). Performance anxiety can also create a sense of paralysis, making it difficult to begin working or maintain concentration (Bajaj-Mahajan, 2020). As a result, the overall productivity, performance and even attendance of an employee suffering from performance anxiety may be affected (Laguaite, 2021). During your counsellor therapist career, you may also notice the physical symptoms of performance anxiety in your clients, including nausea, increased heart rate, sweaty hands and irritability (People HR, 2022).
Helping Clients Cope: What You Can Do as a Clinical Counsellor
Throughout your career, there are many different strategies that you can encourage clients to implement in order to manage their performance anxiety at work. One important step, especially before a meeting or presentation at work, is to release any physical tension from the body (People HR, 2022). Getting some quick exercise, repeating deep breaths and shaking out the body are all great ways to reground and manage their nerves (People HR, 2022).
Another important part of reducing performance anxiety is to become aware of negative thoughts and attempt to counteract them with positive ones (Kalish, 2020). Avoiding negative thinking patterns, and putting bad thoughts into perspective, can prevent employees from wasting time and energy putting themselves down (Kalish, 2020).
Lastly, you can remind your clients of the importance of preparation and practice in reducing stress and anxiety (SCL Health, 2018). If a big meeting or presentation is coming up, employees can take time to rehearse what they are going to say and practice until confidence is achieved (SCL Health, 2018). Preparation can avoid unnecessary embarrassment and help employees to feel comfortable with their own voices (SCL Health, 2018).
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Bajaj-Mahajan, A. (2020). How to understand and overcome your anxiety at work. Manhattan Center for Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Retrieved May 6, 2022, from https://www.manhattancbt.com/archives/1940/anxiety-at-work/
Kalish, A. (2020). It’s normal to get nervous doing basic parts of your job. The Muse. Retrieved May 6, 2022, from https://www.themuse.com/advice/its-normal-get-performance-anxiety-at-work
Laguaite, M. (2021). How to deal with anxiety at work. WebMD. Retrieved May 6, 2022, from https://www.webmd.com/anxiety-panic/features/workplace-anxiety
People HR (2022). Dealing with the rise of performance anxiety at work. Retrieved May 6, 2022, from https://www.peoplehr.com/en-gb/blog/dealing-with-the-rise-of-performance-anxiety-at-work/
SCL Health. (2018). Use these tips to manage meeting anxiety at work. SCL Health. Retrieved May 6, 2022, from https://www.sclhealth.org/blog/2021/10/use-these-tips-to-manage-meeting-anxiety-at-work/