How Anxiety & Stress Can Reduce Your Productivity

I want to tell you about a friend of mine who is the Director of Operations at a mid-sized company in the United States. He has a very successful career in a thriving business. He works long hours, six or seven days a week, and yet he is regularly in a panic about his increasing to-do list. My friend suffers from a problem that many other people experience, letting anxiety and stress take over and interfere with their day-to-day life. In fact, according to some research, 3 out of 4 employees find their work stressful.

It’s not that my friend has more work than he could handle; rather, he spends so much of his time worrying and being preoccupied over potential problems that don’t actually exist, that he leaves very little time in the workday to do his actual job. This, in turn, creates even more pressure and stress on him, which reinforces the negative cycle.

Anxiety and stress don’t just impact your workplace productivity. Work stressors can carry over into your off time as well, affecting your relationships with friends and family. A little stress is not always a bad thing. In fact, it can be a motivator. Stress can signal that you’re growing and are challenged in your role. It can keep us interested and engaged in the work we do. But the wrong kind of stress can cause real damage.

Not only can stress and anxiety reduce your productivity, but they lower your work performance as well. I’ve seen it happen many times. A talented young employee has prepared a presentation or project, but their self-doubt means they don’t have confidence in their work, essentially sabotaging themselves before they really begin.

If this sounds familiar, there are a few steps you can take. The first thing you need to do is recognize the physical and emotional effects stress and anxiety have on you. Then, you can stop the feedback loop before it gets any further. Do you become agitated or moody? Fixate nonstop on certain issues, neglecting your work? Lose sleep or appetite? My friend, the Director of Operations, would wake up regularly in the middle of the night with his mind running over all the things he needed to complete the next day.

Whatever your physical manifestation of stress is, acknowledge it and then consider the cause. Is the stressor rooted in reality? For my friend, the answer was no. He was doing his job well, and the business was not crumbling down around him. Instead, he was consumed by little details, to the detriment of his personal and professional lives. Sometimes, simply recognizing that the stressor isn’t based in reality can cause it to go away. Don’t give yourself the chance to fixate on the anxiety. If your mind wanders into negative what-if territory, turn your attention right back to your work. And of course, sometimes professional help is necessary to develop ways to channel those stressors into productivity.

Learn how to turn off the anxiety switch and make stress work for you. Go here to reach out for a personal consultation.