• Cedar Counseling & Wellness

Workplace Anxiety & the COVID-19 Pandemic

Updated: Aug 11

When the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic began, none of us had any idea what to expect. As time has passed, many people are experiencing increased levels of stress and anxiety, and for some, that worry is very closely linked to their work. Whether they are essential workers who have put themselves at risk to help others during the pandemic, they lost their jobs, or they’re in the process of returning to work, workplace anxiety and the COVID-19 pandemic seem to go hand in hand. Keep reading to learn a bit more about this increased stress and how therapy for anxiety may help you reclaim a more fulfilling life by learning skills to manage stress and anxiety in healthier ways.

Essential Worker Stress & Burnout

Essential workers put themselves and their families at risk every day to serve their communities, and these real risks are taking a toll. In June of 2020, behavioral scientists with the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) conducted a poll of individuals, including both essential and nonessential workers. In this study, essential workers showed significantly higher levels of anxiety and burnout though both essential and nonessential workers experienced elevated levels of anxiety. Specifically, essential workers indicated the following response to the COVID-19 pandemic:

  • 42% reported experiencing symptoms of anxiety or depression

  • 11% reported increased substance use

  • 8% reported thoughts of suicide

Anxiety About Returning to the Workplace

Many people who have been able to work from home or who were laid off during the pandemic are now returning to the workplace. This can bring up a lot of fear and stress. In the KFF study, nonessential workers, including those who continued to work remotely, also reported high levels of burnout, anxiety, and stress. Specifically, nonessential workers indicated the following response to the COVID-19 pandemic:

  • 30% reported experiencing symptoms of anxiety or depression

  • 11% reported increased substance use

  • 8% reported thoughts of suicide

It stands to reason that these levels of stress and anxiety will continue to increase as employees are returning to their workplaces.

Tips to Relieve Anxiety & Stress

Managing anxiety and stress can include simple things, like taking time to do things you enjoy or just taking a few deep breaths. You know yourself best. If taking 20 minutes at the end of the day to read a book before bed, getting up and going for a walk, or spending an hour doing yoga makes you feel less stressed, do it! Don’t forget that diet, hydration, exercise, and sleep all play a part in your stress and anxiety levels, so make sure to eat a balanced diet, stay hydrated, exercise regularly, and get plenty of sleep. Some simple ways to relieve stress when it arises include:

  • Find a quiet place and take a few deep, calming breaths

  • Count slowly to ten and continue doing this until you feel more relaxed

  • Take a walk around your house, around the block, wherever you feel safe – just get moving a little

  • Learn to avoid (when possible) situations that trigger or increase your anxiety

  • Talk to a friend or loved one (or therapist) about your stress and worry

Visit Cedar Counseling & Wellness

If you’re interested in making therapy part of your overall health and wellness plan during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond, we would love to see you in our Annapolis therapy practice. Our knowledgeable therapists have years of training and experience we put to use helping our patients learn to manage stress, fear, anxiety, and a full spectrum of emotional concerns. When you’re ready to get started, don’t hesitate to contact us. We look forward to hearing from you.

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