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Workplace Anxiety and Covid19

Photo Cred: Canva

Written by Jessy Pucker LMSW

January 24th 2022

Anxiety in the workplace is something many people experience today and have experienced in the past. The nature of this anxiety has changed immeasurably in the past two years. With questions of indefinite remote work, the constantly changing state of Covid19, and the impact of the pandemic on the economy, our anxiety levels have risen exponentially. In June 2020, three months into the Pandemic, the CDC found that “40% of adults reported struggling with mental health or substance abuse.” If you have experienced a rise in feelings of depression or anxiety in the past two years, you are not alone. Both employers and employees are struggling to adapt to safety precautions and weighing public health against the economic impact of the Pandemic.

Symptoms of work anxiety can mirror general anxiety symptoms; these can be excessive worry, trouble sleeping, racing heartbeat, etc. The differentiating factor with workplace anxiety is that it can also cause disproportionate emotional reactions at work, trouble focusing, and burnout.

As the lines between work and home become blurred through remote work, it can be hard to leave workplace anxiety at work. One way to combat this is to create solid boundaries between each facet of your life. You can create a dedicated space in your home for work. When the workday is over, leave that space and do not return until the next day. It is important to create that spatial separation, because it signifies the boundary between work and home.

Creating separation between work and home does not always have to be physical. Pick a song to play at the end of your workday. This will come to signify that it is time to log off and close your computer. Creating connections between the song and the end of the day can create a symbolic boundary.

Another good way to quell work anxiety is to move around. Take a walk between meetings. Do a quick midday exercise class; anything to keep your body moving. Exercise (which includes walking) has been shown to lower levels of stress and anxiety.

All of this is to say that the Covid19 pandemic has completely changed the way we work. Workplace anxiety is not uncommon, and should not be stigmatized. In the past two years we have all adapted and created our own coping mechanisms. The more we talk about this anxiety, the more we can share our solutions and tools.