How do you deal with normal work stress, when you’re already strung out with daily life? Eighty percent of workers said they were stressed or extremely stressed in a recent survey – that’s just not sustainable!

You don’t have to have an anxiety disorder to feel overwhelmed at work. So how can you manage work stress and prevent it from coming back?  In short: identify the causes, and then try some tailored solutions.

Coworkers causing anxiety?

More often than not, coworkers are a bigger cause of stress than work, itself. That part of work won’t change, but you can strategize your interactions to deal with the most difficult people.

When interpersonal issues arise, keep perspective. Anxiety inevitably causes cognitive distortions – by nature, it makes us see things as more important than they are. So first, take a second to realistically assess the level of passive aggression or conflict you’re dealing with. You probably aren’t imagining it, but it will help to ‘pick your battles.’

Where that’s not practical, call attention to the issue without putting your coworker on the defensive. Open ended statements diffuse the pressure, like “Here’s what I’ve been thinking. . . What are you thinking?” Increasing opportunities for communication in a nonthreatening way keeps tension at bay, and makes the other person feel heard – this prevents future conflict and helps everyone avoid anxious assumptions.

If issues persist, try strategies targeted toward handling specific types of difficult coworkers, like the toxic manager, drama queen, or office gossip.

Work tasks causing anxiety?

When tasks build up and make you anxious, unplug with a few seconds of deep breathing or discreet desk exercises.

Have a few more minutes? Take a quick run up and down the office stairwell, or a walk around the block. You’ll literally clear out the excess neurotransmitters that are making you feel crummy.

Paralyzed by anxiety and can’t get up?  If you are procrastinating, set a small goal and reward for yourself. 

If you can talk about anxiety-inducing issues at work, go for it – first, get some feedback from trusted coworkers if that’s possible, then present your boss with concerns, as well as some concrete solutions to your problem.  

And if you’re stressed about something you can’t share at work, seek support from friends or counselors, and remember your community of supportive peers are available around the clock.