Dealing with Workplace Anxiety: 4 Strategies Towards a Growth Mindset

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Dealing with Workplace Anxiety: 4 Strategies Towards a Growth Mindset

There is no shortage of things to worry about in the world today. Even something as seemingly straightforward as going to work can trigger feelings of uneasiness and anxiety.

Over 80% of employees surveyed reported feeling emotionally drained from work, with many also suffering from workplace stress significant enough to affect their mental health.

 Fortunately, even in the most challenging work environments, we have the power to transform our performance. By expanding our emotional toolkit and taking an active leadership role in our lives, we can reduce our anxiety and feel more confident about our performance. 

At Psych Options NYC in Manhattan, Ann Green, NPhas helped people navigate the complexities of work-related stress and anxiety, improve their relationships with managers and colleagues, do something different with their reactiveness, and if the environment feels too toxic, helped them with the hard decision as to whether this is the job for them.  Through individual and group therapy, and sometimes with the option of psychiatric medications, Ann can help you respond to workplace challenges with resilience.

While therapy is personal and tailored to each individual's unique situation, here are two common scenarios we’ve encountered, followed by four strategies toward a growth mindset rather than a fixed mindset that can keep us stuck:

Dealing With Workplace Culture

Workplace culture is intricately shaped by both explicit and implicit expectations, communication styles, and social norms. It's not uncommon to feel a sense of alienation or to experience anxiety when a company’s cultural elements are misaligned with your own. Challenges women face in male-dominated fields or people of color who experience biases or overt exclusion, are examples. Or perhaps you find yourself in a situation where the company's mission deeply conflicts with your personal values, creating a chasm between what you do and what you believe in. Being out of sync in these ways or experiencing a lack of social support often causes dread and anxiety.

If you find yourself in conflict with your work culture, exploring new strategies for engaging with your work environment in innovative ways will be necessary. This includes developing a new performance that allows you to navigate these spaces more effectively while holding true to your values and beliefs. This process is not about conforming but about performing and engaging in ways that foster your growth, understanding, and ultimately, transformation. It's important to recognize that some environments will resist change, regardless of your effort or creativity. In these cases, we're faced with difficult choices. Going through this process and developing new tools is emotionally challenging and hard. It requires social support.

Social therapy, as practiced at Psych Options, is a therapeutic journey perfectly suited to help people address these kinds of workplace challenges and to engage the emotional conflicts, negative thoughts and anxiety they provoke. Through this process, we work to empower people and support them in transforming their work performance and make choices that best support their development and mental health.

Performance Pressure and the Expectation to be Perfect

The need to be perfect can seriously contribute to anxiety and panic at work, whether the expectation comes from within oneself, the work culture, a manager, or some combination. The overwhelming pressure to meet unattainable standards stifles our creativity and our ability to act and make decisions. For many, it can lead to agonizing self-blame, avoiding risks and paralysis. 

We need to come to terms with the fact that perfection is impossible. Mistakes and setbacks are not only unavoidable but inherent aspects of learning and growth.  

This perspective is supported by such leading business authorities as the Harvard Business Review and Forbes.  They have each advocated in several articles that corporations adopt a new, enlightened approach to mistakes and failures if they are to improve their culture and unlock the full potential of their workforce. To date, many companies and managers have yet to embrace this approach.  However, even if your work environment does not support such a mindset, you can learn to embrace it. Doing so would allow you to be more creative, be more open to taking risks and even learn to celebrate your mistakes and failures.  You can discover so much from your mistakes and their consequences.  You can grow, rather than relating to them as a final judgment on your capabilities or worth. 

Strategies for Developing a Growth Mindset

Carol S. Dweck, a psychologist and professor at Stanford University, has been widely acknowledged for her pioneering research on the growth mindset, specifically its role in motivation, personality, and development. Her influential work is showcased in Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. At Psych Options, our practice of social therapy certainly resonates with aspects of Dr. Dweck's findings, while also relying on its own discoveries and unique perspective on growth and development. We cultivate an environment for personal and social transformation by dismantling not only a fixed mindset but breaking out of fixed roles and social expectations and paving the way for growth. Here are 4 strategies that synthesize the two perspectives:

Strategy 1: Believing You Can Grow

It’s actually more than a belief or a mindset.  It’s living every aspect of our lives, relating to everything we experience, as opportunities to grow.  It involves confronting the prevailing way we relate to ourselves as static, determined by our childhood or our chemistry and as unchangeable. 

Strategy 2: Embracing Challenges

Facing challenges can be daunting, and avoiding them simply exacerbates anxiety.  It’s critical to embrace challenges, however, it is especially daunting when we face them alone. It is not a sign of weakness to ask for help, in fact it is a critical component to moving forward as well as reducing anxiety. 

Strategy 3: Persistence in the Face of Setbacks

Meeting weekly in your social therapy group, you have the opportunity to build relationships that can support you to persist through difficulties. Instead of succumbing to the discouragement of obstacles, individuals learn to embrace mistakes, setbacks, and failures as opportunities for learning and growth, celebrating these experiences as integral to their development journey.

Strategy 4: Learning from Criticism

A fundamental aspect of growth is being open to feedback and criticism.  Rather than being defensive, inviting and processing feedback is important to growing.

If you're struggling with anxiety at work and want help with growing and developing, we can help by providing you the tools to become more empowered and be a leader in your life and career. Contact our New York City office in Manhattan’s Garment District (near Penn Station) to schedule an in-person or virtual consultation.