How to handle anxiety as a tech professional
In an ever-changing, fast paced industry, stress is inevitable as a tech professional. Here’s how to handle it.
With technology constantly changing and evolving, the tech industry is one of the most stressful industries to be in, with many tech professionals generating anxiety from the fear of falling behind on the latest trends. However, due to the technical nature of that enterprise, these stressors often aren’t discussed.
“Technology is moving and changing so quickly, and technology professionals need to constantly be evolving and learning to stay current,” said Jenna Spathis, team lead of technology recruiting at LaSalle Network. “The pace of the industry can be stressful to keep up with.”
And failing to keep up with tech trends can have detrimental effects on an organization, which only adds to an employee’s anxiety.
“It can be stressful to keep up with doing your day-to-day job while also keeping abreast of the trends and new advancements that are going on in the industry to ensure you don’t become stagnant,” Spathis said. “This is key, because you are accountable for making recommendations in order for your company to evolve, improve and stay current. If you become stagnant, and do the same thing daily without stepping out of your role to help the company improve, you and the organization will fall behind.”
SEE: How imposter syndrome is infecting the workplace (free PDF) (TechRepublic)
Anxiety is the most common form of mental health issues in the US, impacting 40 million adults every year, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. While anxiety disorders are very treatable, that doesn’t make them any easier to handle, especially in the workplace.
Handling anxiety in daily life is difficult enough, but is even more challenging when attempting to be productive in a formal working environment. Work-induced stress is one of the leading causes of anxiety disorders, the Mayo Clinic found. This anxiety can have a major impact on an employee’s performance, oftentimes resulting in burnout.
More than half of US employees (55%) experience burnout at work, a recent University of Phoenix study reported, and anxiety (67%) was cited as the no.1 cause. Negative work environments and task overload can make completing assignments unbearable, causing many employees to quit.
These stressors are sometimes even deeper for tech professionals in non-technical organizations, said Nina LaRosa, marketing director of workplace safety, health and HR online training company Moxie Media.
“Business owners and executives often don’t understand what goes into a tech professional’s work,” LaRosa noted. “They may want certain features or fixes without having any idea of the time or effort they would take—or even if they’re actually possible or feasible. This can lead to high and sometimes unrealistic demands on tech professionals without proper expectations, support, or recognition.”
While managers should help reduce these feelings—by recommending stress-relieving activities, easing workload, or promoting work-life balance—sometimes it is difficult for them to focus on their own work, and help those under them, Spathis said.
How tech professionals can help manage their own anxiety
1. Create a routine
Forming a schedule or routine can be extremely soothing for those with anxiety. Start from the moment you wake up, suggested business coach Holly Knoll. Start the day off with meditation or writing down three things you are thankful for—something that grounds you, she said.
A routine is even more important during the chaos of a work day. Try and carve out specific times during the day to do certain things, that way you still feel in control of your tasks. For example, “If you’re responsible for system upkeep, start every day out by checking for updates and make that a daily routine,” Spathis said.
2. Step outside
“Sometimes you might have to eat lunch at your desk, either way, find time to get outside even for five to 10 minutes,” Knoll noted. “The fresh air will clear your head, is scientifically proven to lower your blood pressure and the outdoors has a great way of making us feel like everything is going to be a-ok.”
Exercise creates a natural release of endorphins, so a quick walk outside or stretch break can do wonders for a stressful workday, LaRosa said.
3. Have a colleague support system
Toxic work environments can have detrimental effects on an employee’s mental health. Employees should try a support system in the office, even if it’s just one or two people, Knoll suggested.
“Make a point to build relationships with colleagues that ‘get you’ and truly support and appreciate the work you do,” Knoll said. “Grab a coffee with them, and step away from your stress—positive work colleagues are great for providing perspective in tough times.”
For more, check out Top 5: Ways to help employees with anxiety issues on TechRepublic.