Whether it’s a big project or a new role that’s stressing you out, job performance anxiety can make your 9 to 5 a total nightmare. Try these ideas the next time you’re overwhelmed at the office.
Maybe it’s imposter syndrome—you know, that nagging feeling that despite the incredible promotion you just got, you don’t deserve it. Maybe it’s a Mt. Everest sized pile of work. Perhaps it’s your coworkers, your boss, or something you can’t even put your finger on.
Whatever the cause, overcoming performance anxiety at work is something everyone needs to do sometimes. No matter how long you’ve been in your job, how dope your office wardrobe is, or how many times you high five your own reflection for motivation (admit it; you’ve done it), work worries can zap your productivity and bleed into your personal life.
Don’t worry. You’ve got this. And we’ve got advice to overcome even the scariest of work Scaries.
Overcoming performance anxiety at work rule #1: get better at planning
Getting better at planning is possible even for people who are bad at planning. And one way to deal with performance anxiety, especially if you’ve got a big project that’s causing stress, is to work on your organization and time management skills.
You can get better at planning by finding a process that works for you, such as to-do lists, a really cool day planner, or calendar reminders.
Not sure what works? Experiment. Try different things until you find a planning method that fits your vibe.
2. Set realistic deadlines
“Yeah, sure; I can get that done by Wednesday.”
Sound familiar? If you’re constantly committing to insane deadlines—whether self-imposed or from your manager—see if it’s possible to ease up a bit. Choosing a date that doesn't cause panic, or a simple "hey, is there any flexibility on this deadline" email will make your work life way more chill.
3. Say yes to squad goals
Overcoming performance anxiety at work can be a team effort, y’all. Why? Because we all struggle with it. Yep, even your totally composed coworker.
Resolve to be less scared about asking for help when you need it, and your stress levels will lower. As a wise chorus of teens in a long-ago Disney channel original movie once sang, we're all in this together.
4. Try the Pomodoro Technique
If your workload feels insurmountable, give the Pomodoro Technique a shot. This productivity hack breaks projects into smaller, more manageable chunks and keeps you on task.
Here's how it works: You set an alarm for 25 minutes, focus exclusively on the task at hand (no Twitter breaks!!!!), and then you take a five-minute break. Repeat the process with longer breaks every hour or so.
5. Get some cardio
Performance anxiety comes with lots and lots of nervous energy, doesn’t it? Do something positive with that energy by getting some exercise.
Exercise is a stress-release activity that creates endorphins (you know, those chemicals in your brain that make you feel like you’re on a beach in Hawaii instead of in a cubicle in Cleveland). Go for a run in the morning, hit the gym on your lunch break, or at least take a walk when you’re feeling swamped.
6. Choose foods that help with stress
De-stressing starts from the inside. Before a high-pressure day at work, fuel up with a breakfast that’s loaded with anxiety-fighting foods. And then continue to snack on these items for lunch and dinner.
Anxiety-fighting foods can include whole grains, oranges (vitamin C lowers cortisol levels—who knew!), leafy greens, fish, tea, avocados, and nuts. Check out this blog for more!
7. Stay hydrated
Being hydrated can help you function better. And functioning better means more productivity … and less anxiety surrounding that big project you totally don't want to dive into. Yep, overcoming performance anxiety at work can be as simple as getting some high-quality H20.
8. What’s the point of overcoming performance anxiety at work without a reward?
When dealing with acute stress at work, like a dreaded performance review, a project with a tight deadline, or a trade show you really don’t want to attend, it helps to have something you love on the horizon.
Whether it's a promise to binge watch that true crime show you're psyched about on Netflix, a big pepperoni pie from your favorite pizza place, cocktails with coworkers, or even just a long nap, have a reward planned for yourself, and remind yourself of it often when you feel super stressed.
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