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Is Work-Related Anxiety Making You Sick?


The pandemic caused many to re-evaluate where they live, their life goals and their careers. For those who did choose to remain in their existing jobs, it’s become a matter of how to do so as happily and healthy as possible. 

Whether you work from home or go to an office daily; you are typically working for someone else. Your services, talents, skills and knowledge are being exchanged for money and that means meeting expectations.

It also entails dealing with daily triggers that frustrate us. According to Haley Perlus, Psychology Performance PhD, these triggers build up stress which may negatively impact our personal relationships and physical health.

 We turned to Dr. Perlus for advice on work-related anxiety triggers and what we can do to deal with them.

1. Fear-Based Bosses

Bosses who focus on possibilities and solutions inspire creativity and collaboration. Fear-based bosses aren’t leaders they are energy drainers.

They have quick tempers, focus on problems, complain and threaten. According to Dr. Perlus people make the mistake of remaining in a job for the wrong reasons.

“Being spoken to harshly every day is no way to live. It’s abusive and causes anxiety. My advice, file a complaint with human resources and resign. Your well-being matters first and most.” 

2. Co-Worker Cliques

Some work cultures include gossip, passive-aggressiveness, undercutting, sabotage, and verbal jabs that would rival any high school clique. “If your work is solid, align with others who are focused and keep your eye on the prize.

You have a job to do and your focus will be thrown off by unnecessary cattiness. When you hear a group of co-workers gossiping, politely excuse yourself,” advises Dr. Perlus. 

3. Technology Glitches

We’ve all had instances where we want to throw our computers out the window, stomp on our cell phones and kick a vending machine after it gobbles up our last 2 singles.

“Technology is what led to a higher standard for speed and efficiency. When we can’t get what we want in .005 seconds we get agitated. It’s a conditioning,” she explains.

“Centering is a great technique that helps delay reaction time to stressors. Before pounding on the copy machine, step back count to 5, breathe and pivot to fixing whatever may be wrong or finding someone who can assist.”  

4. Presenting 

You can be the most articulate, outgoing person and still have anxiety when it comes to presenting to a group. It is common for people to experience insomnia, nausea and tension headaches leading up to an important presentation.

Preparation is key. “Allow ample time to gather key points and mentally rehearse your presentation while doing another unrelated activity such as cooking, cleaning, walking or running, to release stress and remain present suggests Dr. Perlus.” 

5. Your Commute

“Once you exceed 30 minutes one-way, your happiness level drops and your stress level rises,” says Dr. Perlus. A coping mechanism she suggests is to use the commute as a time to learn.

If driving, tune off the negative news talk radio and opt for interesting podcasts or audiobooks. If stuck on a bus or train, reading a book, watching a show on the iPad, or getting a head start on email are also ways to make the time fly. 

6. Business Travel

Rushing for airplanes and dealing with weather delays and overbooked flights not to mention navigating an unfamiliar place will stress anyone out.

“Preparation and a solid backup plan is a great way to ease pre-business travel stress. While face-to-face meetings may be optimal, skipping a flight and opting for zoom may be a less stressful option.” 

7. Quotas and Commissions 

While most workers love the self-determined earning potential of a commission-paid job, they still find it stressful when they look at the numbers and fear coming up short.

“Anxiety is caused by excessive worry about future events you believe you cannot control, explains Dr. Perlus.”

Setting easier targets can be helpful. When you set a goal that is just below what you think you are capable of, you still need to exert high energy and you also have a high perception of control.

You want to feel accomplished and not anxious. Just be careful as setting goals that are way too easy creates boredom and that is just as bad as setting unattainable and anxiety-producing goals.

Also, “acknowledge daily wins and break down the effort into smaller chunks of time so you focus on what’s in front of you,” she advises.

Dr. Haley Perlus knows what it takes to overcome barriers and achieve peak performance. As an elite alpine ski racer, she competed and trained with the best in the world, pushing herself to the limits time and time again.

Now, with a PhD in sports psychology, Haley continues to push boundaries and drive peak performance, helping athletes and Fortune 100 executives reach their goals. 

Haley works with individuals and teams to manage and expand their energy capacity while increasing resilience, focus and drive. Dr. Perlus is a highly sought-after keynote speaker, professor, author and consultant to Division I athletes.

She has spoken at many events some of which include VISTAGE, Tec Canada, Elite Fitness and Performance Summit and Trilogy Athletes.

She is an adjunct professor at the University of Colorado lecturing on applied sport and exercise psychology at the graduate level.

She has authored several books including The Ultimate Achievement Journal and The Inside Drive and her articles have been featured in publications such as Thrive Magazine, Fitness Magazine, IDEA Fitness Journal, EpicTimes, Telluride Inside, MyVega and BeachBody®. 

Dr. Perlus earned her PhD at the University of Northern Colorado with an emphasis on social psychology of sport and physical activity, her MS at the University of Florida in sport pedagogy and her bachelor’s degree at the University of Western Ontario in kinesiology.