Manage anxiety at work

5 Ways to Manage Anxiety At The Workplace (And No, Quitting Isn’t One Of Them)

You know that feeling, right? 

The adrenaline rush of deadlines, the late nights worn like badges of honor, the exhilarating buzz of nailing a presentation, the crisp swoosh of sending out an email at 2 a.m. - well, you get the gist.

That was Sanjana’s life up until last year. Sanjana is a 23-year-old account executive who thrived in the fast-paced (read: the ultimate Big Bad™) world of advertising. But beneath the murky surface (what people like to call the Agency Life), something shifted. The constant hum of ambition slowly morphed into an undercurrent of anxiety, and Sanjana found a weight settling on her chest.

It all started rather subtly.

So subtly, in fact, that the average unsuspecting person wouldn’t even notice it.

The random breathlessness, the occasional bout of sweats, the slightest hint of panic at the thought of going to the office - Sanjana always found herself one step away from speed-typing her symptoms on WebMD (but thankfully, she stopped herself every single time). Worry became a constant companion, and often Sanjana would replay past missteps like a broken record. What if she had done something a different way? What if the email sounded rude? What if the ppt did not work? What if this? What if that?

Every client interaction felt like she was constantly walking on eggshells, emails morphing into potential harbingers of disapproval (and thus, doom). Sleep, once a long cherished pastime, became a battleground of anxious thoughts about looming deadlines and presentations, leaving her drained and exhausted at work. And those physical symptoms from before? Their presence only became more pronounced under the harsh spotlight of presentations.

 The truth, hidden beneath the driven facade, was a debilitating fear of failure that felt like a vice grip around her heart. Every pitch felt like an impossible test, every critique a personal attack. This fear fueled her perfectionism, pushing her to work nights on end, rewriting drafts endlessly, chasing unrealistic expectations. But the harder she pushed, the further away success seemed, trapping her in a suffocating cycle. You know how this story ends because we’ve all seen it play out at some point in our lives.

See, because Sanjana isn’t alone. 

Recognizing these signs was her first step towards breathing again. Knowing that she needed to seek help armed her with (all the right) tools to manage the anxiety that had become her shadow. What helped? Mindfulness practices eased all those anxious thoughts, while therapy challenged her distorted beliefs that were holding her hostage in her head. Sanjana did what she hadn’t done before: she learned to set boundaries, prioritize self-care, and communicate her needs.


Do you see yourself in Sanjana’s story? 

Maybe the agency world isn't yours, but the feeling of anxiety is. That knot in your stomach before a big meeting, the voice whispering doubts in your ear, the exhaustion that feels like a lead weight. You're not alone (and you never, ever will be, okay?). So, the next time you feel that kind of debilitating dread, here are five wholesome steps, not to erase the anxiety, but to help you lighten the weight:


  1. Silence the Inner Critic: Identify the thoughts fueling your anxiety and ask, "Are they true? Are they helpful?". Remind yourself that your worth isn't defined by achievements or external validation. Be kind to yourself, and offer the same compassion you'd give a friend going through a similar situation. It’s so much easier when it’s someone else, isn’t it? 

  2. Embrace Progress, Not Perfection: Aim for improvement, not the impossible. Celebrate small wins and remember, mistakes are stepping stones, not setbacks. Reframe them as learning experiences, and use them as valuable insights to help you grow.

  3. Set Healthy Boundaries: Learn to say no gracefully, and carve out time for activities that nourish your soul. Whether it's exercise, walks in the park, or simply relaxing with loved ones, prioritize what replenishes you - this could be anything that gives you joy. No instruction manual can tell you otherwise. Set clear boundaries at work, leave on time, and don't be afraid to say no when your plate is full. It’s the least you can do for yourself.

  4. Nurture Your Body And Mind: They're interconnected. Aim for quality sleep, nourish your body with healthy, tasty food, and avoid the anxiety-inducing sugar crash (yes, even if it seems like the brownie is personally calling out to you). Move your body, even if it's just a walk. Exercise releases endorphins, natural mood boosters that fight anxiety. Go make the most of it.

  5. Seek Support: You don't have to walk this path alone. Talk to a trusted friend, family member, therapist, or counselor. Sharing your struggles can ease the burden and offer valuable guidance. Consider joining a support group, and connecting with others who understand your journey. When in doubt, remember this: vulnerability isn't weakness, it's the first step towards healing.

Remember, Sanjana’s story isn't unique. Many young professionals carry this weight. If you resonate with her experience, take these steps to prioritize your well-being. The world needs your passion and dedication, but not at the cost of your mental health. Be kind to yourself, prioritize your well-being, and remember, you are worthy, just as you are.

That’s half the battle won.

Back to blog

Meet the authors...

Our team is constantly learning, discussing and understanding human behaviour. We love understanding what makes people tick and identifying useful strategies to help them during sticky times.