How To Avoid Performance Anxiety At Work? 

performance anxiety

Do you often feel overwhelmed and anxious at work? Do you find yourself avoiding tasks and feeling anxious about upcoming projects? If so, you’re not alone! Performance anxiety is a common issue in the workplace, but it doesn’t have to be an obstacle.

In this article, we’ll discuss how to identify and address performance anxiety so that you can get back on track with your work life

What is performance anxiety at work?

Performance anxiety at work is a condition in which an employee becomes overwhelmed and stressed as a result of their job responsibilities. It can arise when an individual feels pressure to meet certain expectations or goals, or when they are in a highly competitive environment. 

Symptoms may include difficulty concentrating, feeling overwhelmed by tasks, poor time management skills, difficulty sleeping, low self-esteem or self-confidence, physical signs such as sweating and shaking; emotional signs such as fear of failure or judgment from colleagues; mental signs such as decreased motivation and lack of focus. Performance anxiety can have serious consequences for both employers and employees if it isn’t managed properly. 

Employers should strive to create an environment where employees feel comfortable expressing their fears without fear of retribution or consequence. Individuals suffering from performance anxiety may also consider introducing stress-reducing activities into the workplace, providing ongoing training and support for employees to help them develop new skills and build confidence levels.

Finally, employers should provide emotional support and encourage open communication between staff members in order to prevent performance anxiety at work from escalating further.

Reasons why it can be challenging to avoid performance anxiety at work 

  1. Unrealistic Expectations: It may seem like expectations in the workplace are constantly increasing which increases the pressure to succeed and leaves room for doubt about one’s own capabilities. When there is a lack of trust from bosses or superiors it becomes even harder for individuals to remain confident in their abilities and perform well on tasks assigned. 
  2. Fear of Failure: With more responsibility comes more fear because there is no room for error when delivering high-quality, expected results in a short amount of time under stress-filled conditions – all of which greatly contribute to feelings of performance anxiety over time.
  3. Perfectionism: Perfectionists often put an extremely high value on flawlessness and may catastrophize errors or mistakes they make along their journey towards completing tasks efficiently and effectively – this often leads to intrusive thoughts that lead back down an anxious road leading up to task completion. 
  4. Limited Resources/Experience: In positions where learning is required, such as new job roles or promotions requiring additional skill sets, performance anxiety can spike as learning processes take place and deadlines draw near– creating feelings of incompetence or feelings that confidence won’t catch up fast enough with experience levels needed for successful performances on certain tasks given by employers/superiors.

Causes of Performance Anxiety

1. Fear of Failure

The fear of failure is a common cause of performance anxiety. This can be especially true when it comes to speaking in public or performing in front of an audience or peers. Those that struggle with this fear often worry about not being able to perform the task perfectly or making mistakes, which can lead to feelings of shame and embarrassment. 

People who experience performance anxiety as a result of their fear of failure are likely to feel overwhelmed and anxious before an event, unable to focus on the task at hand, and struggle with self-doubt throughout.

They may also be overly critical of themselves, further intensifying the pressure they impose on their performance capabilities. Over time this fear can become debilitating, preventing people from engaging in rewarding activities they would otherwise enjoy. 

Fortunately, there are several strategies people suffering from this fear-based anxiety can use to take back control and master any challenge life throws at them.

2. Perfectionism

Perfectionism is a personality trait characterized by setting high standards and striving for excellence. While it can be a valuable quality to possess, perfectionism can also cause debilitating performance anxiety. Perfectionists often pressure themselves to reach unrealistic goals, creating an oppressive inner world of self-doubt and disappointment when these goals are not met.

This can paralyze their ability to perform and lead them to give up easily in the face of challenges due to fear of failure. In addition, perfectionists may have difficulty setting boundaries or taking risks because they are afraid of making mistakes that could tarnish their perfect image.

3. Fear of Judgment

Performance anxiety is a common issue that can be caused by fear of judgment. It occurs when individuals become overwhelmed with feelings of self-doubt, nervousness, and worry before or during an important performance, such as giving a speech or playing a big game. People who experience performance anxiety are much more likely to feel pressure from their peers and may worry excessively about what other people think of them if they don’t do well. 

This fear of judgment can lead to individuals avoiding certain tasks completely out of fear that they will fail and be embarrassed in front of others. Symptoms often include difficulty concentrating, sweating, heart racing, dry mouth, and trembling. Individuals suffering from performance anxiety might also struggle with a lack of confidence, irritability, or moodiness which can impact their ability to perform at the highest level possible. 

Severe cases might even lead to avoidance behaviors like skipping practice or using drugs/alcohol to attempt to cope with the stress associated with a particular event which often leads to further negative consequences down the road.

4. Job not done properly

In the case of a job not being done, this can cause significant work performance anxiety because the person may feel that they are not meeting their own or others’ expectations.

There are several ways that not completing a job can cause performance anxiety:

Fear of failure: When a job is not done, there is a risk of failure associated with it. The fear of failing to complete the task or failing to meet expectations can cause work anxiety.

Uncertainty: Not completing a job can leave a person feeling uncertain about what they need to do next. This uncertainty can cause anxiety at work and make it difficult for them to focus on other tasks.
Guilt: If the job not done is essential, a person may feel guilty for not completing it. This guilt can cause work performance anxiety and make it difficult for them to focus on other tasks.

Stress Vs Work Anxiety: What’s the Difference?

Stress and work anxiety are both feelings that can arise in response to work-related situations, but they are not the same thing.

Stress is a physical and emotional response to perceived demands or pressures, and it can be caused by a variety of factors, including work. Stress can be acute, meaning it is a short-term response to a specific situation, or chronic, meaning it is ongoing and persistent.

Work anxiety, on the other hand, is a specific type of anxiety that is related to work. It is characterized by feelings of worry, fear, or unease about work-related situations, such as job performance, job security, or interpersonal relationships at work.

One key difference between stress and work anxiety is the source of the feeling. Stress can be caused by any number of factors, whereas work anxiety is specifically related to work. 

While stress and work anxiety are not the same things, they can be related. 

For example, ongoing stress at work can lead to work anxiety or work anxiety can contribute to overall stress levels. It’s important to address both stress and work anxiety in order to maintain a healthy work-life balance and prevent burnout. 

This can include strategies such as time management, setting boundaries, seeking support from colleagues or a mental health professional, and engaging in stress-reducing activities like exercise or mindfulness.

Strategies to Avoid Performance Anxiety

  1. Prepare: One of the best ways to avoid performance anxiety is to prepare for your performance in advance. Develop a practice routine that includes learning the material, rehearsing, and then performing it multiple times in front of a group or an audience. Building confidence through practice will reduce any feelings of inadequacy and help you feel more comfortable on stage. 
  2. Visualize: Before your performance, take some time to visualize yourself doing well and succeeding on stage. This can work wonders for helping you to be confident when you step out into the spotlight physically as well as mentally. Visualizing success can help boost your self-confidence and motivate you throughout the performance so that you can put on a great show! 
  3. Take Deep Breaths: A few minutes before getting up onstage, take some deep breaths while remaining calm and focused on your goal – making it through your performance without panicking! Taking long, slow breaths helps reduce adrenaline levels which prevents panic attacks or other extreme reactions that may hinder optimal performances during competitions or important events. 
  4. Positive Self-talk: Talk positively to yourself throughout the days leading up to a big event or performance instead of dwelling on negative thoughts that could increase stress levels and make things worse when it comes time for your presentation! Avoid putting too much pressure on yourself by focusing on staying relaxed, having fun with what you’re doing, remembering any tips from previous experiences, and reminding yourself that everyone makes mistakes sometimes – even professionals! 
  5. Reach Out To Someone: If everything else fails, reach out for help from someone who has experience dealing with performance anxiety such as a coach or counselor who specializes in this area of expertise and might be able to provide valuable guidance needed during these stressful times before taking center stage!

Identify the Source of Your Anxiety


1. Reflect on when it started

Reflecting on the source of your anxiety at work can be an important step to addressing it. Some common causes of workplace anxiety include fear of failing or not meeting expectations, feeling overwhelmed by workloads, lacking confidence in one’s abilities, dealing with difficult coworkers and superiors, lack of job security or stability, and feeling unsupported in one’s role. It is essential to identify which sources are causing your particular feelings of anxiety so that you can develop strategies to manage them accordingly. 

Start by reflecting back on when your workplace anxieties began – consider if there have been any changes recently that could be influencing how you feel. If a particular individual has been making it harder for you at work, look into ways to stand up for yourself or engage with them differently. 

2. Analyze your work environment

Analyzing your work environment can help you identify the source of your anxiety. Take a moment to reflect on the physical layout and atmosphere at your job. Are there any factors that could be causing stress or making you feel uncomfortable? Think about issues such as overcrowding, poor lighting or ventilation, disruptive noise levels, lack of privacy, and inadequate equipment or resources for doing your job properly and efficiently. 

Additionally, consider how communication typically occurs in the workplace. Is it respectful and constructive? Or does it involve competition for recognition and favoritism with superiors?

The social dynamics among co-workers can also impact our mental health in significant ways. Does everyone get along harmoniously? Or is the office culture built around gossip and rumor-mongering? It’s important to recognize if we are in an environment that could potentially put us in distress by having a hostile culture or triggering conflicts between different departments due to hierarchy issues. 

3. Assess your current workload

An effective way to identify the source of your anxiety is by assessing your current workload. Identifying the source of your anxiety can be a difficult task, but once you begin to assess the amount and type of work you are currently dealing with, it will become much easier. 

To get started, take a few moments and write down everything that you have on your plate right now. Include all professional obligations like meetings, deadlines, presentations, etc., as well as any household tasks or personal obligations. Once you know what’s on your plate in terms of workload, it’s time to weigh them against each other to determine which one may be putting additional strain on you.  

Create a Plan to Reduce Stress 

1. Prioritize tasks

Prioritizing tasks can be a helpful way of reducing stress in our lives. First, break down all the tasks that you need to complete into smaller manageable chunks. This helps with seeing everything that needs to get done and understanding what each task entails. After breaking them down, prioritize which tasks are most important and should be completed first. Once you have an organized list you can start tackling the items one at a time in order of importance. 

Focusing on one task at a time allows us to keep our minds focused on completing it instead of being overwhelmed with too many things happening at once. It is also important to take regular breaks throughout each day as this will allow us to stay refreshed and clear our minds so we can move forward feeling productive towards reaching our goals quicker.

Finally, delegating tasks or seeking help from others is something easy that we can do if needed in order for us to feel less stressed out about what still needs completing.

2. Take regular breaks

One of the best ways to reduce stress is by taking regular breaks from work and other activities. Breaks can help you to reset your mind and physical body, allowing for more focus during intense periods of work or study.

Taking a brief break can also improve concentration, boost creativity, increase motivation, and reduce fatigue that comes with long hours of sitting in one place or doing repetitive tasks. 

It’s important to take enough breaks throughout the day so that you don’t become overwhelmed with whatever task needs to be done. 

Regularly scheduled breaks can give you something concrete to look forward to in between longer stretches of productivity while allowing yourself time away from it all. This could include anything from going outside for some exercise or having lunch with friends; to anything that gets your mind off work while still being structured around your normal daily activities. 

Doing this has been proven scientifically to relieve stress as well as improve productivity when returning back into focus mode after a short break period ends.

3. Delegate tasks

Reducing stress is an important part of leading a balanced life and staying healthy. One way to reduce stress is by delegating tasks. Delegating tasks means assigning responsibilities to team members and allowing them the autonomy to complete them in their own way. When you delegate, you free up your time to focus on what’s important or do things that bring you joy. It also allows other people the opportunity to take ownership of something and use their skills or knowledge in new ways. 

To be successful when delegating tasks, start by clearly defining the goals for each task, provide resources as needed, check in regularly but allow some autonomy for completion, and finally recognize those who have completed their work with gratitude. By using this strategy of delegation, you can successfully reduce your own stress while allowing others to experience growth opportunities along the way!

Reframe Your Mindset 

1. Reassure yourself

Reminding yourself that reframing your mindset is a positive and possible step to take when facing obstacles can help give you the confidence and motivation to continue. Reframing involves looking at a situation from different angles, playing with the facts or perspective, and finding a new way of thinking about it. It’s about taking the negative in your life or situation and turning it into something positive by changing how you think about it. 

Reframing doesn’t discount difficult emotions or experiences; rather, it helps you find coping skills to deal with them more effectively. For example, if you’re feeling anxious before an upcoming test, reframe this by telling yourself that while there may be bumps along the way–you are well prepared for this test and have done all of your studying–and therefore can handle whatever outcome comes.

2. Develop positive self-talk 

Having positive self-talk can help us to reframe our mindset and stay focused on the bigger picture. It gives us the ability to remain confident, and resilient and has better control over our thoughts and feelings during difficult times. Positive self-talk is essentially having an inner dialogue with yourself that has a positive focus. This internal dialogue helps to motivate yourself and build resilience in moments of difficulty. 

Engaging in positive self-talk allows us to recognize our strengths, values, and uniqueness instead of counting all the things that might be going wrong or not in our favor at any given moment. 

Allowing ourselves to reset with this small act can do wonders for shifting our outlook toward the brighter side of life. Being kinder and gentler with your words can also create space for more patience when dealing with challenging situations without feeling overwhelmed or anxious in the process. Implementing positive self-talk as part of your daily routine will undoubtedly lead you into reframing your mindset from feeling stuck or defeated into a more empowered perspective filled with growth potential!

3. Consider the bigger picture

In order to avoid performance anxiety, you should focus on the bigger picture of the goals set for you to achieve. When you don’t have an eye on the target, then anxiety/fear may develop, hence affecting your performance at work adversely.

Keep a roadmap of the personal and organizational goals you set for yourself. This helps you keep tracking goals with the targets set, and help boost motivation to achieve it.

4. Get Rid of Analysis Paralysis 

Analysis paralysis is a common challenge that can lead to anxiety at work. This occurs when a person is faced with a decision or problem and becomes so overwhelmed with options and information that they are unable to take action. 

Here are some strategies to help combat analysis paralysis and reduce anxiety at work:

Set a deadline: Give yourself a specific time frame to make a decision or solve a problem. This can help you stay focused and avoid getting lost in endless research or analysis.

Prioritize: Identify the most important factors or criteria for making a decision or solving a problem, and focus your analysis on those areas. This can help you narrow down your options and make a more informed decision.

Break it down: If the problem or decision feels too large or complex, break it down into smaller, more manageable pieces. This can help you tackle each piece individually and avoid feeling overwhelmed.

Seek input: Don’t be afraid to seek input from others. Sometimes getting a fresh perspective or hearing someone else’s ideas can help you break out of analysis paralysis and move forward with a decision.

Embrace imperfection: Remember that no decision or solution is ever perfect. Accept that there may be risks or downsides to any choice, and focus on making the best decision with the information you have.

By setting deadlines, prioritizing, breaking down complex problems, seeking input, embracing imperfection, and taking action, you can overcome analysis paralysis and reduce anxiety at work.

Seek Professional Help 

1. Talk to HR

Talking to your Human Resources (HR) department can help provide guidance when dealing with tough workplace issues. Even if the issue doesn’t strictly fall under their purview, they still have a wealth of knowledge and experience that can be beneficial. 

Before engaging with HR, take some time to reflect on what you want from the conversation, so you don’t waste any of their valuable time. For example, is it advice about a particular situation or assistance in understanding an organizational policy? 

Once you have formulated your thoughts, approach HR with respect and humility as they may have insight into solutions that are unavailable to other perspectives. Be prepared to answer any additional questions they might have while staying open-minded as well. If needed, request a follow-up meeting or further resources tailored toward your specific needs. 

2. Seek out a mental health professional 

If you are struggling with any mental health issues or concerns, seeking out a mental health professional is an important step in taking care of your overall well-being. A great starting point when looking to find the right mental health professional for you is talking to your HR department at work. 

Your HR representative will be able to provide advice and information about different types of mental health professionals that are available to you and can help guide you in choosing the one that best fits your needs. They will also have knowledge about which specific services may be offered through your employer’s insurance policy, as well as other resources that may be helpful in finding the support you need. 

Additionally, they can provide guidance on how to make an appointment with a mental health provider, what type of insurance coverage is provided by employers if relevant, and answer any questions or concerns that come up during the process.


Performance anxiety at work can be a challenging obstacle to overcome, but with the right strategies and techniques, it is possible to navigate this difficult terrain and find success. 

By understanding your own anxieties and taking proactive steps such as setting goals, practicing mindfulness, getting organized, and seeking help when needed, you can gain the confidence to perform well in any workplace environment.

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