Anxiety, according to, is “distress or uneasiness of mind caused by fear of danger or misfortune.” Fear is defined at the same site as “a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, etc., whether the threat is real or imagined.” So anxiety can be defined as “distress or uneasiness of mind caused by a real or imagined threat.” When you see work anxiety in that way, the 4 steps to deal with it practically write themselves.

The four steps to taking control of work anxiety are:
1. Define the threat. Knowing what you are afraid or or should be afraid of many times makes you realize that there is nothing to be afraid of at all. One useful phrase to use at work is “…and that affects me how?” because that defines if it is a threat or if it is just some interesting gossip that is going around.
2. Decide if the threat is real or imagined. Real threats need to be dealt with right now, and worrying about them do nothing productive. Imagined threats can be planned for and worked around. And, more importantly, avoided.
3. Develop a plan to deal with the immediate threat. Decide how much harm this threat will do to you if you do nothing about it. Sometimes you can handle the harm and just roll with it. Maybe all you need to do is minimize the harm. Or maybe you need to make the threat go away, so that you suffer no harm at all.
4. Develop a long-term plan to deal with these kinds of threats. You may have to research the subject. You may have to reach out and develop team to support you. You may have to develop a system to delegate some responses. But you must have a plan to face this threat the next time it pops up.

Let’s use an example for this. You develop work anxiety because your friend in another department told you that management is developing a new way of measuring performance for reviews and raises.
Step 1: define the threat. The threat is that this new measurement will drag your overall scores down and you will not get a raise. So you take action and find out what the new measurement is.
Step 2: decide if the threat is real or imagined. Your investigation reveals that the new measurement is “lifetime value per client.” Well, since your job is computer programmer, this measurement doesn’t apply to you so your anxiety is reduced. But if you work with clients, then you need to consider this as a threat.
Step 3: develop a plan to deal with the immediate threat. The immediate threat is how this new measurement relates to your job. If management simply measures the gross value of each client, then your plan might be to distinguish classes of clients (short term vs. long term, for example), to gain a more accurate measurement of the lifetime value of the clients you work with.
Step 4: Develop a long-term plan to deal with these kinds of threats. In this case, if getting measured by management is always causes anxiety for you, maybe your long-term plan is to develop an informal system of relationships to tell you far ahead of time whenever management makes a change like this. Or to start keeping your own statistics, so that you can present alternate measurements to management that more accurately reflect your performance.

Dealing with work anxiety means dealing with anxiety on two levels. First is the external threat that is causing the anxiety. Second is dealing with your internal reaction to the threat by reacting more positively than simply being anxious.

Author's Bio: 

Rick Carter created STRESS JUDO COACHING, aggressive stress management coaching for maximum personal effectiveness, based on his 17+ years of experience in the courtroom and 25+ years of experience in the dojo (martial arts school). Rick is a certified coach and attorney licensed in 3 states. If you want to develop the mindset of a black belt martial artist toward stressful situations, go to STRESS JUDO COACHING.