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Are you concerned about job-related situations such as performance, work environment or leadership? Have you been off work for a while due to vacation, unemployment or parental leave? Here we explain what job anxiety is and how to get help.

What is job anxiety?

Job anxiety is anxiety related to situations at work, such as being off work for a while, having a negative working environment, or just not enjoying your work.

This type of anxiety can manifest itself in different ways and be caused by a variety of factors. People with job anxiety may experience a general feeling of worry, stress or fear directly related to their job.

It is not a diagnosis in itself, but rather anxiety symptoms related to a particular situation and can be helped. Read more below.

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Why do you get job anxiety?

You can get job anxiety from several different situations. Anxiety disorders in general are often due to an interaction of hereditary, biological and environmental factors. In the case of job anxiety, situations are often directly linked to work, both in terms of work tasks and the work environment, also if you have off work for a while due things such as vacation or parental leave. There may also have been changes and reorganisations that make you less happy than before, or you could be unemployed.


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What can cause job anxiety?

Job anxiety can be caused by different things. It can be part of other mental health problems such as stress-related problems, anxiety disorders such as social anxiety or generalised anxiety disorder (GAD), but also cause sleep problems where you develop insomnia. People often have high levels of anxiety related to work, difficulty concentrating, and may be easily irritated. They may also experience physical symptoms such as headaches, stomachaches and tension. Some common causes of job anxiety are:

  1. Workload: Overwhelming amounts of work or the feeling of not being able to keep up with tasks.
  2. Deadline pressure: Tight or unrealistic deadlines.
  3. Job insecurity: Worrying about losing one’s job, especially in an uncertain economic environment.
  4. Work-life balance: Difficulties in balancing work demands with personal needs and family life.
  5. Perfectionism: Setting unrealistically high standards for yourself at work.
  6. New role or tasks: Changes in tasks or taking on new roles.
  7. Poor working environment: Unsupportive leadership can contribute to poor well-being at work and, if bullying is present, it is important to seek help.
  8. Long-term absence: You may feel anxious about returning to work after a vacation, parental leave, or long-term unemployment.

If you are experiencing a lot of anxiety related to your job, you may want to seek help to feel better and improve your quality of life. Our licensed psychologists and therapists can help.


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Managing job anxiety

Dealing with job anxiety can involve both psychotherapy and self-care but also conversations with outsiders such as managers and occupational health services if necessary. Initially, you can try different stress management strategies and try to plan your tasks. It is also important to work on recovery in your free time. You can speak with your manager and, if necessary, occupational health services that can assist with treatment and tripartite discussions. If you are unemployed, you can get help through the NHS.

Ways of managing job anxiety include:

  • Stress management techniques such as recovery through mindfulness.
  • Effective time management and prioritisation of tasks.
  • Seeking support from managers, colleagues, or a professional therapist.
  • Establishing a healthy work/life balance.
  • Seeking help in the case of unemployment.

Addressing job anxiety is important for both mental well-being and performance. In some cases, it may be necessary to seek professional help, especially if the anxiety starts to affect other aspects of life.

Treatment with cognitive behavioural therapy

Through CBT, individuals learn to identify, challenge and change thoughts and behaviours related to different situations. It also involves setting goals and changing behaviors, but can also work on stress management through various tools and exercises. In newer forms of therapy such as Acceptance and Commitment therapy (ACT), you work more with mindfulness to change your approach to your thoughts. It is possible to get help with work-related anxiety and feel better.


12 common questions and answers about job anxiety

What is job anxiety?

Job anxiety is anxiety related to situations where you have been away from work for a while, have a bad working environment, or do not enjoy your work.

What causes job anxiety?

Job anxiety can be caused by several different situations. Anxiety disorders in general are often due to an interaction of hereditary, biological and environmental factors. In job anxiety, the situations are often directly linked to work.

What are the symptoms of job anxiety?

There is often a high level of anxiety related to work, difficulty concentrating and a tendency to become easily irritated. You may also experience physical symptoms such as headaches, stomach pains and tension. Sleep problems are common.

Can job anxiety be related to other mental health problems?

It can be a part of other mental health problems such as stress-related problems, anxiety disorders such as social anxiety or generalised anxiety disorder (GAD), but also cause sleep problems where you develop insomnia.

How to deal with work-related anxiety?

Initially, you can try different stress management strategies and try to plan your tasks. You can also talk to your manager and, if necessary, occupational health services. If you are unemployed, you can get help from the employment service, but you can also seek psychological treatment.

Can job anxiety affect physical health?

Long-term job anxiety can have a physical impact, just like other stress and anxiety. Symptoms can include sleep problems, digestive problems, headaches, and general exhaustion. It is important to take care of your mental and physical health and seek medical attention if necessary.

I don’t feel supported by my manager, what should I do?

Having a supportive manager is important. If you find it difficult to be heard, you can turn to HR or occupational health services, who can also hold tripartite meetings between the manager and employee if necessary.

I have sleep problems and worry about work, what should I do?

It is common to develop sleep problems if you have a lot of work-related anxiety. Feel free to seek help from a licensed psychologist or therapist at Lavendla.

Can physical activity help reduce job anxiety?

Yes, physical activity can be an effective way to reduce symptoms of stress. Regular exercise promotes mental well-being by releasing endorphins, improving sleep quality and reducing stress. Other changes may also be needed.

I am afraid to change jobs, what should I do?

If you experience a lot of uncertainty in deciding whether to change jobs, you can seek help from a licensed psychologist or therapist to help you sort out your choices and how it would affect you in the short and long-term.

Can a change in lifestyle help manage job anxiety?

Sometimes a change in lifestyle can help with job-related anxiety. This can include exercising and getting better sleep, but also working on stress management. Sometimes it may be an idea to change jobs and you can discuss your options with a psychologist or therapist.

Where can I go if I need help?

Through our website, you can book an initial session with a licensed psychologist or therapist to describe your problems and start planning a treatment. We will help you make the hard things easier.

Treating job anxiety with CBT

This section explains how cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) could be used to treat job anxiety. Help is available and here you can get an idea of the treatment:

Assessment of symptoms

The first step is for a licensed psychologist or qualified therapist to help you evaluate your situation and history. They will assess whether your anxiety may also be related to another mental health problem. You may also be asked to complete assessment forms.

Psychoeducation and goals

You will learn about how your thoughts, feelings and behaviours affect you both physically and mentally. They work on analysing situations and setting goals for treatment.

Tools to change behaviours and patterns

You will work on identifying and changing patterns of thought and behaviour with your therapist, using different tools to overcome your problem. You will be given homework to practice between sessions.

Occupational health services and employment services

If you experience difficulties in your work environment, such as reorganisation, bullying or unsupportive leadership, you can contact occupational health services or Acas.

Follow-up and evaluation of progress

You will be supported by your psychologist throughout the process. At the end of the treatment, you will also receive a plan to continue practicing and maintaining your progress over time.

Feel free to book an initial session with one of Lavendla’s licensed psychologists or therapists to see how we can help you. We make the difficult easier.

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Written by dominic

Dominic is a Cape Town-based copywriter and editor with a background in psychology.