One of the biggest problems facing today’s American workers is dealing with anxiety and fear in the workplace. Anxiety over performance, anxiety over competition, and anxiety over relationships with bosses and co-workers can all contribute to making your workplace a dreaded environment. Monday mornings suddenly look bleak and foreboding because of anxiety over starting the new work week.
While much has been written about fear and anxiety in the workplace, the underlying cause of that condition is a lack of faith in an omnipotent and loving God. Separation from the Lord leads to anxiety which, in turn, produces actions that sometimes can’t be undone. Those who are suffering from anxiety must remember that Christ expects his people to treat others with both love and kindness. But when you feel stressed or anxious, that’s a tough command to follow. Trust me. I have intimate knowledge with this concept.
There was a time in my life when I couldn’t go more than a few minutes without having an anxiety attack or feeling deep worry about some matter. My first thought each morning was filled with anxiety. Thoughts all throughout the day were filled with anxiety. And my final thought of the day was also filled with anxiety.
The worry about money. The stress of life. The anxiety of the unknown. I tried everything to deal with this and found only one solution: Giving it to God.
2 Timothy 1:7 (NKJV) has become one of my daily verses. It states, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”
It means that the anxiety, worry, and fear is NOT from God.*
Here are the steps I took in my life:
First, I recommend that you develop a healthy and Biblical prayer life. Prayer shouldn’t be a formal petition that you utter in the morning or at night. And it shouldn’t be a laundry list of self-centered needs and selfish complaints.
So what should prayer be?
Thoughtful prayer should be a major part of your day. Prayer should be a continual conversation between you and your Creator. Remember this, too: the things I pray for aren’t always the things I get. Meaning, I need to stop trying to make my plans work for my purposes and I need to rely on God 100%. We must exercise patience. And we need to “wait on the Lord.” For things happen on His time, not ours. Things happen when He knows when it is good for us, and not when we think it is good for us.
Pray without ceasing. The more I did this, the more I started to rely on God. When I received a text, phone call or an email that wasn’t good for me or my business, I used to fly off the handle or my nerves were shot. Now when that happens, it doesn’t rock my world or trigger a meltdown. I have peace in knowing that God is there for me and He is going to help me—always.
Second, find someone to discuss your fears with, like your church pastor or a trusted co-worker. If needed, you can also consult with your doctor. Consider discussing your anxiety or fears with your boss or the owner of the company. Knowing that someone accepts your condition can be comforting, and it may reduce any anticipatory anxiety about having a panic attack at work.
Third, educate yourself by learning to recognize the symptoms of your anxiety or stress disorder and employ methods to handle them if you experience any symptoms at work.
Here are a few more tips that can help with managing stress, fear or anxiety in the workplace:
- Avoid toxic coworkers: Try to ignore negativity and gossip in your workplace.
- Take breaks: A walk around the block or a few minutes of deep breathing can help clear your head.
- Set boundaries: Try not to bring work home with you. Don’t check your work e-mail or voicemail after hours.
- Be realistic: Don’t overcommit yourself or offer to take on projects if you don’t realistically have enough time.
- Communicate: Speak up calmly and diplomatically if you have too much to handle. Your supervisor may not realize that you’re overextended.
When feeling the onslaught of an anxiety attack, find a private place and pray, turning your anxiety to God. But please know that simply praying will NOT fix your circumstances. It’s the best place to start, but then you have to study God’s word and apply His principles to your life. As you start to engage in prayer and apply God’s word, your thoughts and behaviors will start to change as well.
*Disclaimer: Some persons may have a medical condition(s), and it may be necessary to seek the help of a medical doctor or other trained professional.