When Anxiety Attacks At Work – What To Do

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“Panic attacks can be both bewildering and terrifying, but they’re not unusual. An estimated 2.4 million people experience one every year. It may begin as tightness in the chest, shortness of breath or a galloping heartbeat,” according to Darby Saxbe Ph.D.

Panic attacks due to anxiety can happen anytime and anywhere. Thus, if you have this disorder for quite some time already, you must then prepare yourself for the possibility of its occurrence. With this, below are some tips on how to handle your panic attack especially when you’re in the office.

Always have a copy of this blog on your mobile device, at your work table or any place where you usually stay so that you will have something to guide you in case of an attack.

  1. If the attack is starting, vacate your work station.
  2. Go to a place where you can have some privacy. It can be the office restroom, pantry or an abandoned room.
  3. Breathe. Take deep breaths throughout the episode. Continue until the symptoms subside.
  4. Bear in mind that this situation is not and will never be your fault.
  5. Disregard the thoughts that can trigger your panic attacks.
  6. Remember that you have overcome the previous attacks and you can still do it now.
  7. Focus on your breathing.
  8. Repeat tip 4 to 8. Take time and do not rush.
  9. If you think you need to take a break, don’t hesitate to ask permission to take an early break and go home.
  10. When it’s already handled, congratulate yourself.

These tips are pretty simple; thus, you will not have a hard time doing it on your own when the time comes.

To add, “Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a type of psychotherapy that has been shown to be very effective for the treatment of panic attacks and anxiety disorders in general. Working with a CBT-trained therapist may provide better or more rapid results, particularly for those with more severe anxiety disorders,” according to Jason E. Schiffman MD, MA, MBA.

Ways On How To Manage Your Panic Episodes

“When you first start feeling panic sensations, don’t try to avoid them. Instead, imagine each sensation is a wave that you ride all the way to the shoreline. Watch as the wave passes and crests, becoming smaller and smaller as it nears the shoreline. Though you might fear drowning under the waves, remind yourself that you know how to swim,” a suggestion from Chuck Schaeffer Ph.D.

Here are steps on handling panic attacks. You can do customization according to your choice and situation.

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How To Know When An Attack Is “Coming”

Panic attacks don’t occur just suddenly. It gives out signals an hour or so before. You will feel the symptoms bit by bit. Thus, at the early stage, know what you have to do to prevent it from going to a full blown attack. But first, understand the symptoms when you’re about to have a panic attack.

  • Dizzy spells
  • Breathing difficulty
  • Numbness
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Hot flashes
  • Chest pain
  • Choking
  • Shaking
  • Nausea

If you experience either one of these symptoms, then, it is time for you to have some checking and do what you have to do.

Advanced Way In Handling Panic Attacks

This advanced method is also known as the TIP.

T For Cold Temperature

Apply something cold into your body. The simplest you could use is a wet towel.  Place it in your neck and to any part of your body that would help you calm down.

I or Intense Exercise

Do some exercise routine when you feel like an attack is coming up. Do this in a place where it won’t disrupt your officemates.

P or Progressive Breathing

Breathing always help relax. Breathe through your nose and make sure that your stomach is expanded so that the air could circulate appropriately inside your body. This will help you get the relaxation you need.

Progressive Muscle Relaxation

This is another way that could help you out with your panic attack. This has to do in relaxing your muscles and eventually your state of mind. Here’s how to properly do it:

  • Squeeze your fists hard.
  • Keep it squeezed.
  • Inhale with the use of your nose.
  • Hold your breath.
  • Exhale. Then repeat the process.


Experts also recommend drinking water when you feel like you’re about to have an attack. Water has this way of relaxing people. Aside from drinking, you can also splash some to your face. Cold water is good for keeping people off their panic attack.

Carry A Conversation

Since panic attack can happen anytime, most likely you need to inform your boss and co-workers about it. Merely explain your condition and ask for their understanding. For sure, some of them could relate because having panic attacks is somehow common these days already. Also, orient them what usually happens and how they could be of help if the said attack takes place.

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Know Your Triggers

Identify the things, the situations, and scenarios that can trigger your attack. Take note and as much as possible, avoid it.

How To Calm Down

Some things can help you calm down. Take it with you all the time. Or if someone can help you calm down, make sure your phone is always ready to reach that person.

Places To Go When You Feel An Attack Coming

Know which areas will help you feel calm. Identify them in your office and make sure that you are accessible to those if the time comes.

Game Plan

Once you see the attack coming, make sure you know what to do. And make sure that you can still do it on your own.

Having these panic attacks can be an inconvenience. But no one can tell when it will come. Thus, make sure that you are ready for it.

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