I Feel Anxious About Being Productive

March 30, 2023 Rizza Bermio-Gonzalez

An area of my anxiety that has been difficult to overcome has been productivity anxiety. Since I was young, I've held myself to high standards that I've found unreachable. When I was younger, these standards meant getting good grades and succeeding in school. As I got older, these standards extended to every other area of life. The problem with constantly chasing standards like this is that they get bigger, higher, and seemingly less realistic, to the point that trying to get there becomes a source of stress and anxiety. In my experience, this has looked like the need to be constantly productive. But the anxiety I experience about productivity means it always feels like what I do is never enough.

What It's Like to Feel Productivity Anxiety

One of the main aspects I have noticed about experiencing productivity anxiety is the frequent feeling that I "should" be doing more than what I am doing, even though, many times, I couldn't even define what that looks like. This results in sometimes working more than I know I really need to or convincing myself that I need to stay busy even though it's not necessary at the moment. In the past, this has looked like always finding a task to complete, being constantly in front of a computer, or finding somewhere to go.

These days, I feel less inclined to work continuously; however, this does not mean that I haven't experienced burnout in the past. I am no stranger to fatigue, lack of enthusiasm, and decreased productivity, all of which are often related to burnout. But, because I recognized this in the past, and I've always talked about the importance of self-care, I've worked on this in a number of ways, including pursuing work that I am passionate about.

However, the anxiety that I experience about productivity constantly creeps in. There are times I feel guilty for taking a break and relaxing, and I need to remind myself that taking breaks is okay and, in fact, necessary to do.

There are times that I am not working, and I feel restless, to the point that I recognize the cognitive symptoms of anxiety, such as irritability, racing thoughts, and worry. This sometimes leads to behaviors like obsessively checking my emails, making lists, and sometimes even avoiding tasks that I feel are too overwhelming.

How I Cope with Productivity Anxiety

This is an area that I am continuously working on, and I know that focusing on coping strategies will be increasingly helpful for me. What I've found helpful is:

  1. I remind myself that I need to take time to relax. I teach others about the importance of this, so I must recognize the importance of it for myself as well.
  2. I remind myself that I don't always have to be busy to be in control of my situation. I can be productive without feeling like I always need to stay busy.
  3. Lastly, I remind myself that I am worthy and that I am enough. I've found self-affirmations to be extremely helpful for this.

Do you experience productivity anxiety? What coping strategies do you use? Share them in the comments below.

APA Reference
Bermio-Gonzalez, R. (2023, March 30). I Feel Anxious About Being Productive, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, June 14 from

Author: Rizza Bermio-Gonzalez

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