Jobs for People with Generalized Anxiety Disorder
Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) doesn't have to be a barrier to success in the workplace. Many people with GAD have rewarding and satisfying careers.
Many famous people have a diagnosis of generalized anxiety disorder. These include the singer LeAnn Rimes and the musician Brian Wilson. This shows it is possible to succeed in a dream job role while coping with anxiety.
This article focuses on GAD and how it might affect you in the workplace.
You will find helpful tips to manage your condition, as well as suggestions for the best jobs to protect your mental health.
Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is a common anxiety-related condition. It is characterized by persistent and excessive worry.
Worrying occurs on most days and lasts over a period of at least six months.
Worry is common, particularly during stressful events such as exams or job interviews.
These are ordinary feelings that pass in time, but GAD is more extreme.
For those with GAD, negative worries are persistent throughout the day. They will ruminate over future events and imagine possible outcomes. These intense thoughts and worries cause continuous stress that interferes with daily life.
Generalized anxiety is distinct from other types of anxiety disorder.
For example, social anxiety is triggered by worries about interaction and communication with others. Sufferers fear how they are perceived in public so try to avoid talking to people.
Phobias are another type of anxiety. Anxiety symptoms are triggered by an irrational fear of objects, places or specific situations. For example, fear of needles, heights or open spaces.
Panic attack disorder is when a person experiences repeated panic attacks. This is a sudden, intense and overwhelming fear. These panic attacks are often unexpected and the triggers are unknown.
It is difficult for GAD sufferers to pinpoint the exact cause of their worries.
The severity of the condition varies, but common symptoms include:
- Panic attacks
- Fast heartbeat and palpitations
- Feeling restless and agitated
- Nausea and stomach aches
- Difficulty making decisions
- Sense of dread
- Excessive sweating
- Fatigue and trouble sleeping
- Muscle aches and tension
- Shortness of breath
All these symptoms can impact your life and affect your choice of career.
Looking for a suitable job can be particularly stressful. It involves concentration, focus and dealing with setbacks. If you have GAD, these stresses are heightened.
Researching the role and the company you are applying for can alleviate some of this stress.
Think about how your anxiety symptoms might impact you in the role and how you can manage them.
The symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder can impact you directly and indirectly in the workplace.
Direct effects of GAD in the workplace include:
- Catastrophizing about the outcome of projects
- Doubting your ability to get through the day
- Feeling overwhelmed and unable to concentrate on tasks
- Dreading going in to work the next day
- Feelings of anxiousness not tied to any particular event
- Struggling with the commute (for example, driving or getting on a train)
Indirect effects include poor sleep, headaches, stomach aches and panic attacks.
This might lead to an increase in sick days or taking time off work to manage your symptoms.
Some tasks could be more difficult for those with GAD.
- Participating in staff meetings
- Team building activities
- Asking for a promotion
- Concentrating on tasks
- Meeting deadlines
A job that doesn’t create any excess triggers for stress is the ideal solution. This would help with the day-to-day management of symptoms.
This might not be the most practical solution if it means giving up on your dream role. A diagnosis of GAD should not affect your ability to succeed in any career.
If you want to cope better in your current role, there are a variety of techniques you can use in the workplace to help you cope.
Top Tips for Managing GAD at Work
It is important to strike the right balance. Try to keep yourself occupied without overloading yourself. Then you can keep on top of anxiety symptoms without exacerbating them.
You can be happy and successful at work if you educate yourself about your condition. This means you will be aware of your triggers.
This understanding can help you take proactive steps. You can help yourself and manage your symptoms in the workplace.
Here are some general tips for managing your anxiety in the workplace:
Set yourself mini-deadlines to break up larger tasks or delegate work to other staff.
This will prevent you feeling overwhelmed and allow you to prioritize your workload.
Plan your day and the order in which you will complete tasks so you don't leave things to the last minute.
This will help you to feel in control and reduce worries about not meeting deadlines.
Speak to your supervisor about any concerns you have. If they are aware of how you are feeling, they can offer suggestions to accommodate your anxiety and improve your working life.
Find a trusted co-worker you can share your feelings with. When you aren't coping well at work, you will have someone to rely on who understands you and can provide support.
Try to set yourself small goals to achieve each day or week. Recognize any fear you have but aim towards your target.
Succeeding at tasks that are out of your comfort zone will help to build your confidence.
Over time, you will increase your skills and feel proud of your accomplishments.
Avoid drinking excessive amounts of caffeine. Too much caffeine can disrupt sleeping patterns and increase anxiety symptoms.
Choose healthy food options so you can maintain your physical health.
Setting up an exercise routine can also help reduce feelings of stress and tension.
Mindfulness techniques can help you to reconnect with the present moment. If you are losing focus and concentration, using some simple techniques can help.
Breathing exercises and listening to guided meditations help calm your nervous system.
Taking a short break for a walk outdoors helps ground you, refocuses your thoughts and reduces stress.
Although the tips above can help in any job, it might be better to change careers if you really feel your job is contributing negatively to your mental health.
Focus your job search on roles that play to your strengths. Consider what type of work has interested you in the past and what key skills and abilities those roles used.
Suitable jobs are can be ones that allow you to work independently. They have might have flexibility in terms of work location and keep you occupied throughout the day.
Unsuitable jobs are usually those with high demands. They involve lots of responsibility and pressure, and have a fast-paced working environment.
Volunteering in a role first could give you an idea of the demands of the job. You might also consider freelance or remote working if you prefer to have more control over your work day.
Remember, you can get a job when you have severe anxiety. There are many jobs that provide the opportunity for you to thrive in the workplace.
Here are 9 options to consider when choosing a career:
Average salary: $33,000
Working outside with plants and nature can calm anxiety and depression symptoms.
The job involves implementing an architect’s landscaping plans. You will maintain public grounds or residential gardens.
Working with your hands is very helpful for managing anxiety and calming nerves.
Entry routes vary to this role. Starting out as a gardener could lead to positions in landscape gardening as well as more formal routes, such as a degree.
Average salary: $91,000
A career in computer programming makes good use of your analytical skills.
The job involves designing and developing computer programs. You will need proficiency with computer coding languages and the ability to solve problems.
A bachelor’s degree in computer science or a related discipline is often required, although there may be opportunities for alternative entry routes.
Check these with the company you apply to.
Average salary: $55,000
If you enjoy the written word, there are many different types of writing jobs to choose from. These include copywriting, technical writing and content writing.
With so much variety, the salary can vary dramatically.
Freelance writing involves limited interaction with other people. This makes it an ideal choice for introverts with anxiety.
A bachelor’s degree in English or a related subject is recommended. However, many writers have had successful careers with limited education.
Develop your writing skills and pursue opportunities to increase your success.
Average salary: $57,000
Reading books rather than writing them might be more suited to your interests. A job as a librarian will provide you with a peaceful, low-stress working environment.
A librarian catalogs books, monitors stock and organizes collections. This includes electronic resources.
This career makes use of your excellent organizational skills and love of learning.
With extra training, you can become a senior librarian. This will increase your salary.
Average salary: $60,000+
If you prefer working with numbers rather than words, accountancy is a popular choice.
You will analyze, evaluate and make projections with account transactions. Working with numerical data will keep your mind occupied and your anxieties at bay.
Setting up an accountancy business from home is an option. This enables you to create an organized working environment and work flexibly. This means you can feel in control and relaxed.
Average salary: $34,000 (depending on skills and experience)
Regular exercise is recommended for those with GAD. Keeping fit can improve your mood and help to relieve tension. Working as a fitness trainer could be your ideal job.
The job involves guiding others to use gym equipment and creating fitness training plans. Working as a fitness instructor encourages you to maintain your fitness levels and promote healthy living.
Average salary: $71,000
Take advantage of your analytical and detailed thinking by taking a job as a researcher.
There are various types of researcher roles including legal, medical, scientific or academic.
A researcher collects information, analyzes data and prepares reports. This type of work keeps you focused and minimizes worries.
Average salary: $31,000
Animals can have a calming and healing influence on sufferers of GAD. If you have an affinity with pets, working with animals could be very beneficial.
There are a wide range of options in the field of animal care. Job roles include dog walking, pet sitting and grooming or zookeeping.
Dog walking offers flexibility with working patterns that suits anxiety sufferers.
There are opportunities to progress and diversify. Qualifying as a dog trainer or dog groomer could increase your salary.
Average salary: $43,000
A career as a lab technician involves following standard laboratory procedures and collecting results.
This methodical work can calm and occupy an overthinking brain. This makes it a good choice for those with a scientific and analytical mind.
You will be operating and maintaining laboratory equipment and instruments. A bachelor’s degree in a science-related subject is required.
Other entry routes may be available at different companies.
Having generalized anxiety disorder doesn't mean you have to limit your life choices. It also doesn't mean you have to avoid working altogether.
There are plenty of options for suitable jobs. Having a job with GAD will boost your self-esteem and increase your self-confidence.
Alongside these nine jobs, there are other roles that may suit your skills and interests. Approach your career search with an open mind and consider all opportunities.
Find a job that would be a good fit for you and consider how your symptoms might affect your performance.
Taking a volunteer or part-time role could be helpful. It will give you an insight into whether a particular job is suitable for you.
Optimizing your approach will ensure your happiness and success. When your anxiety symptoms are managed in your job, you will feel in control and empowered to succeed.
If you find it difficult to cope in your current role, it could be time for a change of profession.
Ultimately, only you can make the best choice for both your career and your health.