Mental Health and Business: Managing Social Anxiety in the Work Place


Social anxiety can be extremely debilitating to those that have the mental illness. What might seem like a regular walk to the lunchroom for some, may not be so simple for you. Anxiety flare-ups can happen at any time. It could start off with you walking to get some lunch, but the sound of your co-workers’ laughter coming from the dining area could cause your feet to tingle, your heart to pound in your chest, and your hands to get sweaty.

You know that you genuinely like people and that you’re a good and likable person, but you’ve had difficulties managing your social anxiety at work in the past, so how do you handle it now? Naturally, your social anxiety tells you that while your co-workers are telling you to do your best, they’re waiting for you to fail; but that’s not the case. You can use some of these management tips to help you control the anxiety you get at the workplace so you can focus more on the tasks at hand.

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You Do Your Best

Many other people are going to have an idea of what doing your best means, but it’s not something that should get measured against others. Your personal best track records are going to differ from your colleagues, and that’s okay. It’s best to take pride in the accomplishments that you have under your belt and focus on the things that you do well when you have an anxiety flare-up or a bad day.

When you get approached by a chatty co-worker in your department that asks you the dreaded “how are you?” question that so many people who suffer from anxiety don’t like to answer; don’t feel you need to answer with a smile. If you are having a bad day, it’s okay, to be honest about it or reply with a simple, “I’m here, so it can’t be that bad.” Additionally, you can ask them a question about themselves to learn more about them because you’re likely great at one-on-one interactions. When you feel tired, and like you need to focus, admit it to the person you’re speaking to and go back to work.

You Don’t Lack Social Skills

It’s important to understand that even those who appear to be social butterflies suffer from anxiety, too. You might expend all of your efforts into public speaking and talking to everyone in your office, but by the time you get home, you’re wiped. The anxiety that comes with not being able to do what’s expected of you in the workplace is exhausting, and it’s crucial that you manage your energy levels, so you don’t burn out at work.

If you are more of the wallflower type with social anxiety, trust in the fact that you do have social skills. Use your active listening skills to your advantage and start off by repeating what you’ve understood from meetings in conversations with a couple of people. Over time, that’s going to build up your confidence with public speaking until you get to a point where you can speak in a group.

When You’re Done Socializing

Regardless of who you are, there’s going to come the point where you just can’t socialize anymore because it’s so exhausting. Your fatigue sets in, you can feel your body shutting down, and your brain starts to ache from all of the thoughts going through your mind. During that time, you should take a quick break from your tasks at work and drink some water. You can also try focusing on jobs that require low energy such as emails.

When you stress yourself to your limits at work, your anxiety can intensify and create unhealthy work habits. Try speaking with your manager and let them know that when you get to your limits, you need to take a walk around the building or get some fresh air to clear your head. Sometimes, it takes stepping back a few paces to avoid an anxiety-fueled episode.

Dealing with Groups and Meetings

With the majority of workplaces, there’s going to come a time when you have to attend some type of team or workplace meeting, and those are the most significant triggers when you suffer from anxiety. One great tip to keep in mind is showing up to the meeting early when you can. You might not be the only person who shows up first, but it gives you the chance to choose a seat where you’re comfortable, and you can also start speaking with the few people who are already in the room.

Throughout your workday, remember that you are doing your best and you don’t need to be on your game all of the time. Take your time and get to know your colleagues one at a time, and don’t force yourself into situations that you aren’t comfortable in. When you’ve finished with work, give yourself kudos for what you’ve accomplished, and check your energy levels. You’re doing great.

What workplace tips do you have for those who suffer from anxiety? Leave a comment below.


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Mental Health and Business: Managing Social Anxiety in the Work Place

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