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Use these tips to overcome work anxiety and start being productive again!
7 Ways to Overcome Work Anxiety and Keep Yourself Motivated
The problem with anxiety is that it’s irrational. You know you shouldn’t have fear or nervousness about a particular thing, and yet it’s there anyway, often preventing you from reaching your full potential.
Work anxiety isn’t any different. You determine that you want to start a project or something you have to do for your job, and then you realize that you can’t. You can make a hundred excuses for it, but the fact is, you’re terrified about doing something that needs to be done.
Luckily, if work anxiety is getting in the way of your productivity, you’re not hopeless. There are things you can do to help overcome those negative feelings.
What is Work Anxiety?
Work anxiety is the general fear or nervousness you experience about working on something. That something can be either work for your job, your side hustle, or just a creative pursuit.
When you get work anxiety, you may feel unmotivated to work, no matter what you try. You may also question whether doing the work will even make a difference.
Obviously you know that doing the work will make you feel better, and will improve your situation, but you can’t force yourself to do it.
What Causes Work Anxiety?
Work anxiety usually results from a lack of confidence. A distorted feeling of self-worth can easily translate into whatever work you produce. If you feel like you’re not worth anything, how can your work amount to anything?
This often leads to procrastination, which only worsens the situation. You start to feel guilty and even more worthless because you haven’t worked. And just because life is unfair, this has the contradictory effect of making you even less able to overcome your anxiety.
It becomes a cycle, where you can’t work because you lack confidence, which causes you to lose even more confidence, and further prevents you from working. The key to getting motivated and moving on from your work anxiety, is to break the cycle of those negative feelings.
7 Ways to Overcome Work Anxiety
- Forget about everyone else: One of the ways you may lose confidence is if you’re constantly thinking about who will read or see you’re work. Obviously, for a job or even for side hustles, you’re going to encounter an audience at some point. Other people will have to judge your work, and you’ll have to make sure it meets their standards. However, thinking about that while working can often lead to unhealthy levels of perfectionism. When you’re working, focus on meeting your own standard of a good job first. Save your concerns about everyone else for editing.
- Remind yourself of why you want to work in the first place: you have a reason for what you’re doing, even if that reason is just to make money. With side hustle and creative pursuits, you wanted to start because it was fun, or because you had something you wanted to contribute to the world. Remember that! It’s easy to get caught up in negativity. By focusing on what you like about your work, you can find a more positive perspective.
- Start small: Sometimes, looking at the big picture can make you feel overwhelmed. You get stuck thinking about how much work you have to do, and how little you got done. At that point, it seems like there isn’t even a point in starting, because it’s not like you’ll be able to finish anyways. When things feel too daunting, pick a small task to start first. Focus on little tasks that you need to get out of the way. Make a schedule, or send an email, or write an introduction. Even making a to-do list will help you see your work as a set of manageable tasks, rather than one huge unmanageable project.
- Ignore your procrastination guilt. One reason we feel anxious and procrastinate more, is because we feel guilty for procrastinating. This is ridiculous. You shouldn’t berate yourself for procrastinating, especially if it’s going to prevent you from finally getting to work. Remind yourself that it’s ridiculous. Guilt can be difficult to ignore outright, so focus on doing small tasks that you enjoy. Move onto the creative part of your work, or spend some time organizing materials and content.
- Remember that your work and you are separate: sometimes negative feelings of self-worth can cause work anxiety because we make it too personal. One important thing to remember with your job and your personal projects, is that your work is not a stand-in for you as a person. If something fails, or doesn’t turn out how you wanted, that doesn’t mean that you’re a bad person, or a failure yourself. It just means that you made some mistakes, or that circumstances were out of your control. Don’t equate your work with your self-worth.
- Give yourself a reward: If you can’t move past your mental block, you can always give yourself a little extra motivation. Tell yourself that you can grab a favorite snack, or watch a show, or whatever else appeals to you, after you get some work done. And be generous with yourself! It’s okay if you can’t get that much done. The point is to do what you can, and reward yourself afterwards. This will help you have more positive feelings about your work overall.
- Turn on the television: If all else fails, try the distraction technique. Put on a show or a movie that you enjoy, and get to work. You may not work that efficiently, but having something enjoyable to distract you will help ease your anxiety. You’ll feel less pressure than you would if you sat down in silence, in a serious environment. After all, you’re not really working, you’re just there to watch a show!
You Can Get Work Done!
Work anxiety doesn’t have to keep preventing you from reaching your potential. If you’re experiencing work anxiety, try some of the things on the list above. They can help you stay motivated, and focus on your work.
Remember though, that a common root cause of work anxiety is a lack of confidence. You need to encourage your sense of self-worth, and understand that you are capable, and can produce things worth contributing.
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