Feeling anxious can take over your brain and hinder your career in the long run. Outside of the obvious signs of panic and dread, there are hidden ways anxiety can manifest in your job performance. Anxiousness can be very sneaky. Your brain tries to avoid what causes stress. It’s an innate reaction designed for protection, but it can have unintentional consequences, especially at work. Here are some ways that anxiety can hold you back at work.
You don’t speak up, even when you want to share your ideas.
Anxiety can make you jump to negative conclusions regarding how your colleagues see you, keeping you quiet even when you have something to say. For example, suppose you’re in a meeting and have an idea to improve your team’s performance. However, your anxiety creeps up and makes you feel like your colleagues will think your idea is dumb and judge you, or you’ll fumble your words, so you keep the idea to yourself.
The issue is that hard work doesn’t speak for itself. Staying quiet in team meetings can make your colleagues feel like you don’t have any ideas. Avoiding speaking up in meetings means you won’t be anxious about speaking, but it also means your concept doesn’t get noticed, and your boss won’t see you as a contributor. Some experts recommend separating your anxiety from yourself, which is a way to try and control your behaviors and help you challenge your anxiety.
You miss deadlines.
You tell yourself that you’re not going to feel good if you complete this task, or perhaps you’re dealing with imposter syndrome, questioning your performance. Procrastination is a method of anxiety and an avoidance form. However, avoiding your duties will only hinder your performance and well-being in the long run.
Unfortunately, anxiety typically worsens over time if you don’t address it. The more you avoid, the more your brain realizes that avoidance will lessen your anxiety. Avoidance is a temporary fix for whatever we’re anxious about. One fix for procrastination is facing the task head-on, going through it and not around it. Breaking your tasks up into smaller pieces can be a method to make them less scary. Seeing 12 steps can be daunting, but if you take it one step at a time, you’ll be finished in no time.
You’re grouchy and judge your co-workers.
Most people know that anxiety can manifest as an inner critic when you’re a perfectionist about your work and worried it will never be good enough. Still, a sneaky way that anxiety can show up is as an outer critic, feeling judgemental, annoyed, and irritated by your co-workers. You might start micromanaging them or otherwise disengaging to manage this anxiety manifestation.
Retaining good relationships with your colleagues is good for helping your workday go by faster, and it’s essential to help advance your career. People talk, and making enemies of your colleagues will only hurt your career. If you don’t address this anxiety side effect, people may feel uncomfortable around you or avoid working with you. Of course, the health of your connection with co-workers and people in your network is vital to advancing at work. However, it’ll be stressful for you to feel like you can’t depend on anyone to do their job correctly, increasing the pressure on you to overwork and over-function.
It can help to differentiate between others’ behaviors that are different from yours or annoying and those that are harmful or outright wrong. Ultimately, the outer critic tries to protect you, but sometimes it gets a little carried away. It may help to work with a coach, therapist or mentor to determine when it’s appropriate for you to step in to intervene with others and when it’s time to sit back and let them do their job their way.
You’re too tired to job hunt or network.
If you’re constantly drained and need coffee to survive the workday, your anxiety could be the reason why. When you’re dealing with anxiety at work, there’s no space to breathe because you’re worried about a future outcome and are dealing with the present demands and what could happen. Over time, this can stop you from planning your career or job-hunting. You’re so depleted and tired that you don’t have the energy to consider that something could be better.
You say “no” to new prospects.
Anxiety typically stems from fearing the unknown, which can keep you stuck in jobs and roles you should’ve left long ago. It chooses you to choose the devil you know over the one you don’t, and trying to predict a future that can’t be expected can leave you in the anxious space you already live in. The anxiety of possibly being in a worse situation holds you back, even if you know we don’t feel good about the present.
The fear of the unknown may also lead people to “underemployment” because they don’t think they can handle a role that matches their professional contributions. You may not interview for a promotion because the job description involves leading meetings, and you’re anxious about speaking in front of people. To cope with this anxiety, it may help to find someone at your job, like a trusted colleague or mentor, who can help you with reality testing. For example, you could ask them how you sounded in a meeting and if your thoughts made sense. That way, you feel more assured about going after opportunities to speak up and be noticed without feeling anxious.
You’re stuck in a job to please others.
If you identify as a people-pleaser, you typically work about what others think about you instead of what you feel about yourself. This anxious work trait can hinder you from finding your desired career, leaving you at a job you hate. If family disapproval is the cause of your anxiety, try seeing their perspective and have a tough talk with them about the career you want to pursue. This discussion might surprise you.
Anxiety tries to tell you what you can’t do, but you’re more than what your anxiety tells you. If you feel your anxiousness is holding you back at work, try talking to someone about how you’re feeling.