Have you ever felt an intense wave of anxiety suddenly creep over you? Well, that's what we call a "panic attack." If you're familiar with the experience, you know how challenging it is to deal with panic attacks, especially if they happen at work.
You may worry that your coworkers, boss, or supervisor will recognize your anxiety and that everyone will know about your "secret." Panic attacks are nothing to be ashamed of, even though they can be frightening at first 😥
For these reasons, we're sharing with you some valuable tips that will help you handle panic attacks better:
Identify your triggers
Recurrent, abrupt, and unexpected panic attacks are part of a panic disorder diagnosis. However, various circumstances can cause anxiety and other symptoms of panic disorder.
Knowing your triggers, fears, and phobias is essential as you'll be able to deal with panic attacks more effectively. The better prepared you are, the better you will be able to respond to them when they occur.
Recognize your symptoms
The symptoms of a panic disorder can be very frightening. A person may feel they are choking, suffocating, or having a heart attack.
Understanding your symptoms requires awareness of how your body feels and your mental patterns as your anxiety increases. For instance, you might notice that you start to shake or experience stomach butterflies when your anxiety levels rise.
By recognizing our symptoms, we can begin to manage them more effectively.
Develop coping techniques
For coping strategies to work, you need to practice them when you are in a relaxed state. Set aside a bit of time each day to experiment with different relaxing methods. Meditation, progressive muscle relaxation, and breathing techniques are typical coping mechanisms.
You will begin to notice which strategies help you relax the most through regular practice. Soon, you'll have the proper tools ready for use when you get anxious at work in the future.
Always plan ahead
Now that you have identified your triggers, understood your symptoms, and practiced your relaxation skills, it is time to put a plan in place for when you're at the office. Having a strategy will reduce your anxiety levels because knowing that you can handle them appropriately will give you some mental peace. You can also work on reducing your stress levels throughout the day to keep your mind at ease.
Your strategy can include techniques such as listening to calming music on the commute to work, finding a quiet spot to meditate during your lunch break, or pausing periodically throughout the day to engage in belly breathing.
Build a support network
You may want to keep your panic attacks secret from coworkers. However, having social support can help relieve the stress and ease the loneliness you may feel when hiding your symptoms.
Managing a panic attack at work
When you start to feel a panic attack coming on, find a quiet, private place to sit until the symptoms subside. If you're in a meeting or another high-pressure situation, ask if you can leave just for a bit to get water or visit the restroom.
In the meantime, text a trusted colleague that you're not feeling well and will be back when you feel better. Once you're in a quiet space, follow the next strategies to manage your symptoms:
Breathe deep and slow
Try to close your eyes, control your breathing, and focus on taking deep and slow breaths. A good technique is inhaling through your nose while mentally counting to four, holding your breath for one second, and then breathing out through your mouth for a count of four. Repeat this several times. Becoming aware of your breath and regulating your breathing will give you a sense of control, reducing the fear that comes with anxiety.
Counter the thought that might be causing or contributing to your panic attack. Remind yourself that you are in a safe place, nothing can hurt you right now, and everything is okay.
Repeat a mantra
If you don't have a mantra or favorite phrase, it's time to choose one! Find an affirmation that works for you, and repeat it as often as needed. Some of our favorite sayings are: "This will pass," "I will be fine," or "I will get through this."
Take a break
If possible, tell your boss you're not feeling well and need to step away. Take a 15-minute break, go outside for a short walk, and drink a cup of herbal tea to soothe your body and calm your mind.
Although it is not always possible to predict when a panic attack will occur, having a plan for when it might happen will help you feel more comfortable and in control.
Finding a peaceful spot and practicing the above techniques can help you pass through a panic attack like a champ 🤗
Of course, please always seek professional support and guidance if needed.