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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    How can I cope with anxiety during stressful work situations?

    I encounter big deadlines with my job as a business consultant and often give presentations. I'm fairly new to the job (began working for the company 4 weeks ago) and still experience a LOT of anxiety when it comes to finishing and doing a good job. How do I cope/manage the anxiety?
  • Find a professional to answer your question

  • 1


    Dr Louise Shepherd

    Clinical Psychologist, Psychologist

    I am a clinical psychologist with 15 years experience working with all sorts of goals and issues. I love working with people, helping them to … View Profile

    Firstly I'd say that it is very early days - I think it often takes me several months to “feel” confident. And the funny thing about confidence is that we want and expect and hope it will come immediately but the reality is that we only feel confident once we have done something over and over and hence are practised in it. 

    On the one hand there are practical things that you are probably well aware of and doing - good time management / organisational skills being the main one. Lists, prioritising, realistic deadlines (not always in our control obviously) and so on.

    And then the other side is how we handle the stuff going on inside…..our scary thoughts, physical sensations and feelings of worry, anxiety, frustration, annoyance and so on. There are no magic bullets here - if there were you would have discovered them. There are, however, fairly reliable techniques that will, with practice, change the way you approach stressful situations. We can learn to change how we relate to anxious thoughts and feelings…..not getting so caught up in it so to speak, not believing everything our mind tries to sell us. Think of your mind like a dodgey sales rep selling you bad products some days……some of it is blah blah and may need to be just treated as such. 

    Mindfulness skills would also be well worth considering. Learning to stay in the moment and focus on what matters right now can save us lots of time and energy wasted on living in the past or future. 

    I'd recommend either doing some reading and learn mindfulness skils by listening to CDs etc - or get along to see a clinical psycholgist who deals with this sort of stuff all the time. A book I'd recommend is “The confidence gap” by Dr Russ Harris. He also has mindfulness CDs. For some people books and CDs are all they need - for others it is more helpful to sit down with someone who can coach you through that process. 

    Good luck with the job……and I imagine each week you will be more practiced and skilled with the role….which may well naturally help the anxiety and confidence.

  • Renee Mill

    Clinical Psychologist, Psychologist

    Empowering people is my passion and life work. I have been working as a Clinical Psychologist in private practice for over thirty years. I have … View Profile

    There are a number of factors here that are at play. One is that it is a new job and it can take up to 3 months to feel settled in a new job. Two is that there are deadlines and presentations which can be stress inducing depending on your personality and strengths. I would observe yourself over the next year and see if the stress reduces. Be honest. Over time you may feel the job is not a good fit. Three relates to the external things you can change like improve your work habits, or assert yourself more. Maybe your manager has a wiiling horse and you coukd reduce your work load by saying "no" occassionally. Four pertains to your inner world. What are you telling yourself? Can you change any thoughts to feel less stressed? In my experience, it can take time to unpack these things. Sometimes it is too subjective to do alone and talking to a psychologist will make a huge difference.

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