social anxiety in the workplaceThose struggling with social anxiety know that this crippling disorder rears its ugly head in a wide variety of social situations, regardless of whether these situations are voluntary. Take the workplace for example; Ottawa counselling professionals know that people must regularly face, and function socially within their place of employment. One really cannot avoid going to work (at least not for long, or without negative consequences), and besides, working is an important component of a person’s self-esteem; it makes up part of one’s social identity.

Unfortunately, in Ottawa, counselling professionals see all too often how social anxiety erodes people’s self-esteem and positive self-regard; in fact, according to the Anxiety Disorders Association of Canada (ADAC), 12% of Canadians suffer from some form of anxiety disorder at any given time. Whether mild or debilitating, “on the job” social anxiety has been identified as being rampant in the workplace. While it is normal to feel anxious, awkward or stressed from time to time—there will always be those intimidating meetings, or upcoming presentations—it becomes a problem when anxiety becomes all-consuming.

Workplace “triggers” for social anxiety include fear of speaking in public, facing “higher ups” or other authority figures, facing new challenges, and the pressures of perfectionism. Fortunately, as the ADAC and other Ottawa counselling professionals assure, anxiety disorders are highly treatable. Sufferers can take control of overwhelming or spiralling anxious thoughts, and not risk derailing their careers! But where should you start?

1. Face your fears: Social anxiety will not go away if you avoid the people or activities that trigger it. Actually, it will probably get worse, since your mind will run rampant with all of the negative things that you believe may happen.
2. Get physical: One of the most practical ways to start facing mental health issues to take care of your physical health—eat well, get enough sleep, and exercise.
3. Re-direct anxious thoughts: When the sweaty palms, racing pulse and sleepless nights rear their ugly head, use these physical cues to direct your thinking to more rational, calming thoughts. Ottawa counselling professionals often recommend breathing slowly and deeply, and trying to replace a negative thought with a more realistic one.
4. Don’t Bully Yourself: Be kind to yourself. People who struggle with social anxiety are notorious for self-bullying. Imagine what you’d say to someone else who needed calming or comforting—a child, a sibling, or a close friend—and repeat those words to yourself.
5. See a professional: There are many professionals in the Ottawa area offering counselling services, who know that social anxiety in the workplace need not be the epidemic it’s become!