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Anxiety and the Workplace

Michelle Scott
Accredited Mental Health Social Worker, Counsellor and Psychotherapist
Perth, Western Australia

Anxiety affects over 2 million Australians. On average one in three women and one in five men experience anxiety in their life. Anxiety may increase over time and can affect our relationships with family and friends and how we go about our daily lives. It can also affect our capacity to do our work and our relationships at work.

Increased anxiety in response to the work environment

The world of work is becoming more complex and the demands of work and family life can be considerable.

There are a number of factors that can contribute to anxiety, including stressful events such as sustained pressures at work, increased responsibility, a change in job, restructures, change in managers and the loss of our position.

Many people are balancing the demands of their working life and family life and are looking for tools to do this in a healthy and effective way.

Particular work environments are more stressful, do not promote work life balance and have structural barriers in place, which make it difficult to easily balance work and family life.

Some people experience anxious feelings over an extended period in response to on going sustained stress or after the stressful event has passed and find it difficult to understand, manage and control.

Anxiety and its impact on our work

Anxiety can also occur as a result of other challenges in our life such as separation, divorce, ill health, death, and raising our children.

Anxiety as a result of work stress or other life challenges can affect our capacity to perform at work or to our usual standards.

A recent survey by Safesearch of 1200 people across 133 organisations identified that many organisations are now recognising that the mental health and wellbeing of their staff is one of their top priorities. Of those surveyed 85 per cent found health and wellbeing strategies were of high or significant importance but only about half had the resources to respond.

Common symptoms of anxiety

Individuals experiencing anxiety may respond differently, however there are some common symptoms.

  • There may be behavioural changes such as withdrawing from certain situations or finding it difficult to make decisions
  • There may be a physical response such as shortness of breath, having trouble sleeping or finding it hard to concentrate
  • There may be a change in feelings such as feeling overwhelmed, nervous or fearful

In summary, work can be a cause of stress and anxiety in our lives and our working environment can also be affected by us feeling anxious.

Many people can learn to reduce their anxiety.

If you would like to know more about how to manage your anxiety, particularly in relation to your workplace please contact Michelle.



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