For the majority of people anxiety is a normal response to a perceived threatening, challenging or dangerous situation. For others, it is a more enduring condition that can fluctuate over time.
In some circumstances, a person may experience anxiety in situations that are not generally perceived as threatening or dangerous – such behaviour may be constant or caused by specific triggers.
- Heart palpitations or ‘heart in throat’
- Tense muscles
- Sweating, dizziness or fainting
- Stomach problems
- Hypersensitivity to noise, smells, taste or touch.
Changes in thought patterns:
- Sudden excitement or marked irritability
- Feeling of time going slowly
- Excessive worrying or anticipating a problem
- Extremely focused thinking
- Experiencing feelings of dread or impending doom.
Changes in behaviour:
- Sudden bursts of energy, speed or strength
- Experiencing shakiness and/or feeling tired
- Being very still or ‘frozen’
- Difficulty concentrating
- Difficulty sleeping.
Potential impact on daily life and employment
- Raised blood pressure
- Avoidance of certain situations
- Low self confidence
- Poor concentration and feeling unable to perform tasks
- Feeling problems are impossible to solve
- Underestimating the ability to cope
- Thoughts becoming increasingly and persistently negative
- Constant worrying or fidgeting.
Support in the workplace
- For a new employee with known anxiety, ensure the welcome and induction process is clear and understood
- Consider additional support in the first few weeks
- Appoint a workplace buddy or mentor to provide personal support
- Find out about the medication they are taking and possible side effects
- Ask the individual to explain how their stress/anxiety manifests itself and ensure you have the individual’s permission to talk about it with others should that be required
- Avoid phrases such as “pull yourself together”, “you’ll get over it”, “it’s not as bad as you think”
- Identify workplace activities that may trigger particular levels of stress or anxiety, and consider temporary or permanent adjustments.
Source; Beyond Blue, 2015.