how to deal with work anxiety

Just started as a first-year analyst. Wondering how other ppl deal with raging anxiety every-time their work phone goes off/see an email from Associate, VP, ect. This has been affecting my sleep since I'm too scared to turn my phone off, and I get random pings at 3-4 am (sometime not from work, just random newsletter subscriptions). The pings wake up me in a panic, and I need to check if its from my associate/whoever. I try to spend time away from my desk on weekends, but the random emails asking me to turn comments sends me racing back to my computer. I could be a 10 min drive away from home, and I recklessly speed home to make a 5 min edit. 

Also wondering how other ppl deal with their own attitude problems. I get conflicting advice from 2nd years and associates telling me best practices, then get a "I already told you once before" when I use different advice. Internally, I just think F U to everyone but I know this isn't the right mindset and I'm trying to just be decently not miserable during this job. 

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Comments (27)

  • VP in IB - Gen
Oct 3, 2021 - 8:44pm

I'm having flashbacks to my analyst days reading this... very similar experience. Back then, we had firm issued Blackberrys and we called the new email light the "red blinking light of death" - always prayed to Odin it was a Google alert. To this day, I now always keep my phone face down (even though the iPhone doesn't have that blinking light). This improved quite a bit for me when my firm instituted the Saturday policy in my third year that is now common at many banks. If your firm doesn't utilize a Saturday / weekend policy, I would strongly encourage you to evaluate lateral opportunities when the time is right for you.

Sorry you are experiencing this and totally get it... hang in and stash some bread until you are ready to transition.

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Cov
Oct 3, 2021 - 8:51pm

Hey i'm not OP but I'm in a similar boat as him. Just started as an analyst and any email notification makes me panic. How have you managed to survive all these years in IB? Tomorrow is Monday and I feel like I'm not looking forward to it. To be honest, I actually want to cry right now. I rarely cry but right now I feel like I should. Looking forward to any insights you may have.

Most Helpful
  • VP in IB - Gen
Oct 4, 2021 - 3:31pm

Can empathize with this and share your sentiment more often than I would care to admit. Candidly, the enjoyment and excitement of this job oscillates in waves... some periods are quite fun and not overly demanding while others have you entrenched in a perpetual state of panic and helplessness. It definitely becomes more manageable with time / experience, but it never goes away completely. We are also in a pretty unique market from an activity standpoint, so stress levels of teammates, clients, management teams are all elevated... driving more tension than "normal state."

P.S. - nothing wrong with a good cry every once and a while

  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A
Oct 3, 2021 - 8:51pm

Thanks a lot for this. Makes me feel better that someone more senior can relate. We have a Saturday policy, but the pings still get to me. Even thought I might not be expected to turn comments on a Saturday, I still get emails that stress me out.

Still coming to terms with the fact this is just part of the job, and I will be suffering for at least the next year. 

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  • VP in IB - Gen
Oct 4, 2021 - 3:28pm

Delighted to hear about the Saturday policy. Honestly, there's no "quick fix" - you'll start having a better handle on what is / isn't urgent as you get some more time with your team. Once you get into the "flow," the anxiety subsides quite a bit and you naturally learn what windows tend to work best for going out and about rather than being glued to the laptop / phone. I would also recommend asking your associate / VP about turnaround times for deliverables so that you can plan accordingly - just make sure to convey in the appropriate tone so they don't misinterpret your intent.

Oct 3, 2021 - 8:49pm

It will get better as you spend more time getting familiar with the typical requests that are asked from you.

Hang in there and always show a positive attitude (no matter how much you want to yell at them to fuck off).

You got this

"Whatever needs to happen, always does." - Black Jack Foley
  • 1
Oct 3, 2021 - 8:49pm

Deleted (duplicate)

"Whatever needs to happen, always does." - Black Jack Foley
  • VP in IB-M&A
Oct 3, 2021 - 9:46pm

Helps to get an understanding of the team you're working with and their expectations. A lot of the work is the same so once you've done it a few times it all gets easier.

Having a good relationship with Associates / VPs so you feel comfortable saying "I am out can I turn this later tonight or tomorrow morning" helps a ton.

All this comes with time in the job and putting in the work up front to develop those relationships with the people around you. You'll get there.

Oct 3, 2021 - 10:03pm

if you are having trouble sleeping, just check in with all your associates before you go to bed. "do you need anything else from me tonight?" If they say no, and you go to bed, even if they send you an email at 4am telling you to do something, they won't be made when you respond in the morning (or at least they'd have no right to be mad). This is a good practice in general. You don't say "can I go to bed" you just say "do we have anything else to do tonight" or something similar. Always good to check in and will help you sleep better knowing they aren't expecting anything more from you. if you just go to bed without checking in, you'll be worried they were expecting you to be around.

Oct 4, 2021 - 10:42am

Managing expectations was big for me through my first year. I just expected that I was going to work till midnight everyday, even on the weekends. So when I got time off, it felt like a blessing. Rationalizing is key. I've had a few buddies in the marines that legit work 24/7, and they're getting paid much less than we are, so if they can do it, we can too. It'll all payoff- you'll get much faster at your job and it gets better. 

  • Associate 3 in IB-M&A
Oct 4, 2021 - 10:46am

Turn the email notifications off.

You end up checking your email app more, but being in control of when you see them is life changing instead of just getting attacked by the ping. No more waking up in the middle of the night to emails, check them on your own time. And you shouldn't be racing home on weekends - responding "thanks, noted, I'm out at the moment but will get this to you in a few hours" is absolutely fine if it's not immediately urgent.

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Gen
Oct 4, 2021 - 12:33pm

I'm a first year too in the same boat. I also get nervous whenever I get a notification because I don't know how to even start and have so many questions. One thing that I think will be true (and someone more experienced correct me if I'm wrong) is that the job in a few months will start to become more tedious and less stressful because you will know how to do what is quicker and know how to find or start on something in general. It seems there are a lot of these questions recently from new analysts so you are not the only one.

Oct 4, 2021 - 2:16pm

Just go night mode - no ring, no vibrate, from 11pm (or whatever you prefer) to 6-7am. You should know if you're supposed to be up late and working - if you have already gone to bed its because you know that nothing should be coming. If on the rare occasion it does, so what. I get that this can be stressful and you want to be a people pleaser but this is pretty basic. You're not going to get fired or not get a good bonus due to a one off here or there that you miss a 3am email - if that even happens. 

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Gen
Oct 4, 2021 - 5:42pm

This is painfully relatable. I can't fall asleep at night cuz I'm thinking about excel and if I messed up or xyz. And I also get conflicting advice from associates/VPs so I don't know what to do...or if someone higher up makes a mistake but I get talked to because of it even though I was just following their instruction or not even involved...all I can say is you're not alone. I'll race home on a saturday when I get an email to update something or turn comments...usually i just end up bringing my laptop with me...everywhere lol

  • Analyst 2 in IB - Cov
Oct 4, 2021 - 10:47pm

If there is no life or death situation meaning live deal or pitch is tomorrow or someone waiting on you, I always put my phone into don't disturb mode when I go to bed and I wake up early, take a shower try to have coffee or do something for 30 minutes then look at my phone. Now that's not always possible but you have to do it on days you are not expecting much.

I have been in banking two years and some time I still can't breathe from anxiety but routine always helps. Small stuff. You are not expected to turn stuff on the weekend asap or you can say comments received I will turn in the next couple hours if that works because im driving. Talk to people who are still juniors about time expectations. The more experienced you are, you will get the hang of it and know how urgent things are. A good associate or analyst should never leave you guessing about timeline.

Banking is about the long game. It doesn't matter if you turned these comments quickly but ruined your weekend and end up fucking up the following week. I personally like to take the weekend and wake up very early on Monday and get stuff done before anyone starts working. Find what works you. Rest is not a luxury it is a necessity and everyone who has 2% brain cells knows this.

For conflicting advice- different people have preferences and they all think they are correct, I do three things: separately save emails that include these specific comments (how they like docs to be called or how many decimals or which font), write them down so you don't forget and check them one by one, and before you turn stuff look at a pitch or deck you know this person ran point on. Always look for reference materials done by your associate or senior analyst to see what they like.

  • Associate 1 in IB - Restr
Oct 4, 2021 - 11:00pm

There are ways to mitigate it, but unless you've checked out, anxiety is part of the job.  The biggest thing that you can do to mitigate the stress/anxiety is to make an effort to work w/ non-toxic Assocs/VPs/MDs.  Early on as an analyst, I figured out who the best and least toxic Assocs/VPs in my group were (by good I mean knowing wtf they're doing and being able to run a clear & efficient process w/out creating unnecessary BS work), volunteered for staffings w/ them, and worked my way to being the analyst they'd ask to use on projects.  Once I was their go to guy, I could tell the VPs who suck to work w/ that I wasn't available to work w/ them and have the VPs that I was working w/ do the same. 

Of course, you can do all of that and still get staffed on an engagement w/ an incredibly toxic management team and wake up every 2 hours w/ intense stress dreams for months on end...

  • Analyst 2 in IB - Cov
Oct 4, 2021 - 11:00pm

I haven't read through any of the comments so sorry if someone already said this. I personally create rules for subscriptions / news / recurring random emails so that they go to separate folders and I never get the notifications. I also turn my phone on vibrate when I sleep so that notifications don't wake me up. If, for some reason, I do wake up in the middle of the night and decide to check my emails, there either aren't any because all of the random ones have been filtered to other folders or it's something that needs to be top of my inbox in the morning (in which case I can mentally prepare for it).

To be completely honest though, there's no solution for this and I still get anxiety whenever I have days with 500-600+ emails. If anything, I really suggest trying the above because it'll alleviate some of the anxiety and help you sleep a little better.

Oct 5, 2021 - 1:10am

Jerk off at your desk. No I'm not kidding. When it's late and your bored at work, go open up anything (Facebook for example ) and start jerking off, and don't worry about cumming in your pants.  Grab an extra pair of pants for the day in your backpack. 

Oct 5, 2021 - 10:34pm

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