Stress or Office Anxiety

Office Anxiety is a name that the media have given to a set of symptoms which basically amount to anxiety that is due to or exacerbated by work stress.

The symptoms tend to be:

  • Fatigue
  • Restlessness
  • Fidgeting
  • Excessive worry
  • Guilt at perceived under achievement
  • Hyperventilation
  • Panic attacks
  • Feelings of low self worth

Psychologists and Psychiatrists have christened some of these symptoms; ADT, Attention Deficit Trait where time management and scheduling become difficult or impossible, as fear rather than time manages a worker’s life.

Of course some of the above symptoms (or arguably all of them!) are quite normal in an office environment, so the introduction of labels is likely to bring out the hypochondriac in some people. Having these symptoms should not be cause for further worry, just some positive action! One expert argued that ADT is just a response to the hyperkinetic environment that today’s offices have become.

In the UK 6.5 million work days are lost to mental ill health induced by workplace stress.

Various factors have contributed to a recent upturn in work related stress.

  • The end of the 9-5 day with the Americanisation of UK work practices.
  • The introduction of new technologies that actually pile on pressure rather than save time.
  • Much less job security.
  • Dependents demand of consumer goods and expensive lifestyles.
  • The over-use of performance targets as a motivational tool.
  • The under-use of praise as a motivational tool.

What’s the outcome?

Well, in Japan, where Office Anxiety and ADT, is more advanced, there are over 1000 suicides a year which are put down to work pressures. That does not mean this is likely in the UK and USA as there are very different work practices in the west. It does, however, mean that there should be more action taken now, to curb this problem.

What can I do about Work Stress or ADT?

Here are some simple suggestions which could go a long way to alleviating your problems.

  • Talk to someone at work! Many good employers are wising up to stress and have programmes that can help.
  • Talk to your family or friends. Don’t suffer in silence. People that know you can often help and advise.
  • Talk to your doctor. If you are over stressed you may get signed off work.
  • Be realistic about your work goals. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and if your manager doesn’t know that then they are a bad manager.
  • Stop those guilty thoughts. Spend some time reaffirming that your life is your own. Do not blindly give your life to your bosses and share holders.
  • Get in shape. Exercise reduces stress.
  • Leave the office earlier. Longer hours equal more stress.
  • Drink less caffeine. Enough said.
  • Join a Union! Yes, I know it’s considered old fashioned but workers need rights more than ever right now.


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