How To Manage Your Anxiety During Tough Times At Work

By Lea McLeod, The Muse

Of all the things that can make you worry at work, some of the worst are the problems you create. This is especially true when negative things happen and you find yourself waiting for them to happen again. Let me give you a couple of examples.

Say you’ve been in an organization that’s been through a lot of change. Then one day, unexpectedly, you get laid off. You have no idea what you did to deserve it—you were sure you’d be in the group of people the company kept. You go into your next job, holding your breath, waiting for the axe to fall again.

Or perhaps you’ve had a difficult manager who never really supported or praised your hard work and efforts. Maybe she even called out your mistakes in front of other team members or taunted you in meetings when she was having a bad day. Now, you hear your manager and colleagues laughing in the next room, and you’re convinced they’re making fun of something you said.

Then there’s the supervisor who looks annoyed every time you request time off or ask to leave early for a doctor’s appointment. In your next job, you’re literally afraid to use your vacation days for fear of your boss’s uncharitable reaction.

This kind of thinking can be hard to escape. And it can be especially troublesome when you can’t rid yourself of the memories from previous unpleasant work environments. Remembering a toxic office culture (or boss) may leave you feeling vulnerable even after you’ve moved on. You can’t quite shake the idea that things are different, better now, and so you constantly question the motives of your colleagues.

If you’re generally a worrier or anxious, your paranoia is likely to be even worse. Low self-esteem is another culprit, making it hard for you to accept the pleasant nature of your current workplace at face value.

When suspicion, fear, and persistent worst-case scenario thinking threaten to negatively impact the quality of your work life, your only response is to ditch the paranoia once and for all. These four tips will help.


The first step in changing any behavior is to realize that it’s happening. For the next week or so, notice each time you harbor a paranoid thought. Keep a journal to note how often these thoughts are occurring, and try to get to the bottom of what they’re really about.

Simply documenting your thoughts can be one way to release the hold they have over you. Once you have an idea of how much this anxious thinking has invaded your mind-set, you can start to do something about it.


Say you’re up for a promotion, and you’re suspicious of a colleague in another department who’s participating in the hiring decision. He doesn’t respond to an email you sent him. Your first thought is, "Oh my gosh, I knew he was blocking me for the promotion I want. Now he’s cutting off communication because he doesn’t want to show his hand."

Read more at Fast Company

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