Job and Career Anxiety Explained
What is Job Anxiety?
Job anxiety is characterised by feelings of unease, apprehension, worry and insecurity about life associated with work. It is normal for people, at some period in their lives, to worry about certain aspects of their job, regardless of their occupation or role. Such worries may include:
- Worrying about money – income, expenses, bills, childcare, luxuries, debt.
- Meeting deadlines – feeling the pressure of meeting targets and deadlines on a time scale.
- Job security – fear of losing job, being made redundant, contract not being renewed, disciplinaries.
- Relationships – fractious relationship with colleagues, fear of your boss, bullying, uncomfortable social environment.
- Social Anxiety – unable to communicate with others, an overpowering shyness, lack of confidence, difficulties communicating concerns or requirements.
Worries may also span beyond the job environment and focus more on overall career prospects. Anxiety can stem from being unhappy within an occupation, or perhaps there are doubts and concerns over career choices. Furthermore, some careers are more emotionally and physically demanding than others, therefore this may lead to the possibility of people carrying extra emotions – such as stress and anxiety – into their personal lives. Some examples of career stress are:
- Worrying if this certain career was the ‘wrong’ choice.
- Increasing and exponential workload “my to-do list is piling up!”
- Self-doubt in career choice and feeling it has been a ‘waste of time’.
- Concerns of being stuck in a career with limited opportunity for progression.
- Fears of going back into education.
- The challenge of being exposed to emotional events.
- Feeling like we’re not spending enough time with loved ones or for ourselves.
- Acting in a negative way towards people either during or outside of work, e.g. your partner.
There are many reasons why anxiety can be linked to our occupation and careers. Sometimes this can be hard to distinguish and often goes unnoticed until anxiety has taken its toll. Many jobs can be very demanding and life consuming. Sometimes this can be healthy depending on the individual’s personality, however it is important to note that people sometimes work in order to ‘ignore’ feelings of anxiety without addressing them.
When does Job Anxiety become a problem?
Anxiety associated with a job and career becomes a problem when it starts to negatively influence aspects of a person’s life. Any person being subjected to factors that are negatively affecting their mental health should take time to address these problems with the aid of their employers. In the UK alone, almost a quarter of people have taken time off due to stress related illnesses. This huge proportion of the workforce highlights the need for people in work to be looked after and nurtured during times of stress.
It is not only work that anxiety and stress can affect. Unfortunately, it is quite common for the symptoms of anxiety to surface at home and affect relationships. Some of the symptoms of job-related anxiety include:
- Tiredness and Lethargy
- Panic Attacks and Anxiety Attacks
- Breakdown in relationships
- Displaced emotions such as anger at loved ones
- Lack of enthusiasm for things once enjoyed
- An anxious response at the prospect of going to work
- Decreased productivity and procrastination
- Physical symptoms of anxiety which can be found here.
Sometimes it is not always obvious to the person that their job and career worries are affecting their lives. It is common for people around them – such as families – to notice it first. If you feel that you can relate to this, or have job worries and concerns of your own, then it may be of benefit to speak to your boss, your loved ones and a medical professional to see how these stresses can be alleviated.
Why people do not seek help for job stress
Despite many large scale campaigns that raise awareness for mental health, there still lies a societal stigma around people coming forward with problems relating to anxiety. People may fear how they will be perceived, have concerns about losing their job or perhaps will feel that an anxiety condition may affect their chances of career progression. On some scale these are quite rational fears, as society has got quite a long way to go in order to fully accept mental health issues with the same compassion as any other physical illness. However, there are dangers around keeping quiet and not seeking help when it is needed.
Furthermore, denial plays a huge part in someone making the decision to seek help with their job stress and anxiety. Ultimately, the person who is suffering from stress and anxiety needs to make the decision to seek help, regardless of what people around them suggest. Unfortunately, large parts of society still perceive having mental health problems as a form of ‘weakness’. This is a negative externality that arises from skewed social conditioning, as well as a general inability for people to empathise with something that they cannot see, or have not been through themselves. This stigma is still one of the main hindering factors in why people don’t seek help – particularly amongst males, but not exclusive to.
Education also plays a large part as to why people do not seek help. Firstly, if someone is struggling, they may not know the help that is available to them. Too often we are resigned to visiting our General Practitioner for advice and guidance, only to be offered pills and be placed on a long waiting list. This arduous and non-pragmatic process is sometimes regarded as too much for the person who needs help, where waiting and taking brain-altering drugs only adds to the already present fear. Therefore, people often decide to ‘wait it out’ or just ‘get on with it’.
Secondly, people are not educated about anxiety as a whole. It is a commonly used term, but it is clear that widespread understanding of the biological components of anxiety are scarce. This serves to add confusion to the condition.
Counselling for Job and Career Anxiety
Here at The Panic Room, Joshua works with many clients who endure the symptoms of anxiety where work seems to be at the core of the problem. The Panic Room is a private counselling practice set up specifically to address anxiety and the issues that surround it, i.e. occupation and careers.
For more information, please feel free to browse the rest of the site, or alternatively, you could contact The Panic Room via our Contact Us page.