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5 Ways To Deal With Anxiety Attack At Work

9 min read
Last Updated on 23 April, 2024

Worrying a lot does not necessarily indicate an anxiety disorder. You may feel anxious because of an overly demanding schedule, hectic work-life, lack of exercise or sleep, pressure at work, or even too much caffeine. Work-life can get unhealthy and stressful, making you more prone to anxiety —whether or not you have an anxiety disorder.

Anxiety is one of the most common mental health issues at work, which is often overlooked. Most employees today struggle with anxiety at work; although the stigma around mental health is slowly breaking, many feel the urge to keep it under the desk or avoid talking about it.

Workplace anxiety attacks can happen to anyone, regardless of their profession or work environment. Anxiety attacks are particularly challenging during work hours as they can make it difficult for you to concentrate on your work or even stay calm.

This article will explore what an anxiety attack is and how it can manifest in the workplace, and how to manage it. The article discusses five effective coping strategies to implement in the workplace to reduce or minimize the impact of anxiety attacks.

What Is An Anxiety Attack?


Anxiety in the workplace is one of the most common yet overlooked mental health conditions that most of you might go through daily. Feeling anxious about specific situations or work-related stuff like meeting deadlines or lack of work-life balance is expected; however, getting an anxiety attack is not.

To understand anxiety attacks in detail, let's first understand what they are and how they are often confused with panic attacks. Although anxiety and panic attacks share a few symptoms, they are different. Anxiety can result from stress or a specific situation, but panic can happen without warning.

“The best use of creativity is imagination. The worst use of creativity is anxiety.” – Deepak Chopra

The Diagnostics and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) has no specific definition for anxiety attacks. It is more subjective, and the symptoms can vary from one person to another.

An Anxiety attack is a sudden and intense fear or panic that comes unexpectedly. It is an anxiety disorder characterized by various physical and emotional symptoms. It can sometimes be triggered by various reasons or even for no apparent reason. It typically lasts several minutes, but sometimes it can prolong for even an hour.

A panic attack is a symptom and can occur during various anxiety disorders. People with generalized anxiety disorder can experience panic attacks more frequently than those who don't.

Symptoms Of An Anxiety Attack


Anxiety attacks have both physical and emotional symptoms. Anxiety attacks that occur in higher degrees can cause strong emotional reactions.

Physical Symptoms

  • Trouble breathing or shortness of breath

  • Feeling light-headed or dizzy

  • Excessive sweating, trembling, or shaking

  • Heart palpitations

  • Chest pain, hot flashes, or sudden chills

  • Feeling nauseous

  • A churning feeling in the stomach

  • Restlessness

Emotional Symptoms

  • Feeling overwhelmed

  • Tendency to breakdown or cry

  • A feeling of losing control

  • Irritability

  • Intense feelings of apprehension or dread

  • Anticipating the worst

  • Trouble concentrating

  • Feeling like you're detached from the present

Workplace Anxiety Attacks: How Can You Support Your Employees?


Work can be stressful, and experiencing anxiety is not surprising, yet it might add to your stress at work. Dealing with work anxiety or managing anxiety attacks can be challenging and distressing for those experiencing them.

As a manager or a leader in your organization, you can make a difference by knowing how to help or support your employees or colleagues who are experiencing anxiety attacks at work.

Since experiencing an anxiety attack at work can be stressful and embarrassing, your colleagues or employees can often go to great lengths to keep it a secret or hide it. It can further worsen the symptoms or conditions as they might not get the help or support they need.

Anxiety attacks at work are challenging for those experiencing them and those trying to provide aid. But it is not impossible; with some awareness of the conditions and basic coping strategies, you can manage anxiety at work and support those in need.

Here are a few steps you can take to support and help your employees or colleagues with anxiety attacks in the workplace -

1. Create A More Open Environment.

Creating a more open environment is the first step when you want your employees or colleagues to feel safe to talk or share about their struggles with mental health problems.
Although a lot of mental health stigma is breaking, many more issues are still kept under the rock or often overlooked.

A healthy work environment can help those experiencing anxiety attacks or other mental health conditions feel less embarrassed or free to disclose their concerns without fear of losing their jobs.

You can achieve this by promoting more open and honest communication about mental health in the workplace. You can encourage your employees to talk or share what they are struggling with or what triggers their anxiety at work.

2. Provide A Good Signpost.

Not every organization has the capacity to provide professional support for their employees' mental health. Neither is it possible for everyone to be an expert in dealing with stress and anxiety. However, on the brighter side, you can help and support your employees by signposting the best places for your struggling employees or colleagues at work.

Providing these services through employee assistance programs EAP, or employee wellness programs is possible. Priority should be given to ensuring the mental health of your employees.

3. Flexibility At Work Should Be Implemented.

Even though anxiety attacks are short-lived, the after-effects are not. It can take some time to wear off, making you or your employees mentally exhausted.

Hence, implementing flexible and reasonable workplace adjustments for your employees' mental health issues should be a core part of your wellness program.
You can do this by -

Allowing time for them to recover and not asking them to get back to work immediately.

  • Providing them mental health leave or day off.

  • Providing them the space to discuss with them how you can adjust the work environment to reduce their anxiety.

  • Allowing them to work from home or implementing a panic room at work.

Suggested Read: 8 Ways To Create And Nurture A Culture Of Wellness In The Workplace

5 Ways To Manage Anxiety Attacks At Work

Anxiety attacks at work can be distressing and challenging to manage. It is often difficult to know how to manage or deal with the experience or make it less uncomfortable. Workplace stress can be overwhelming, and an anxiety attack at work can worsen things.

If you are feeling anxious or finding it difficult to breathe before a meeting or a deadline at work, you should begin by getting some fresh air and water. Then follow these strategies to prevent them from recurring or minimize their effects:

1. Practice Relaxation Techniques


“Anxiety happens when you think you have to figure it all at once. Breathe. You’re strong. You got this. Take it day by day.” – Karen Salmansohn

A wide variety of coping strategies and techniques are available to help you relax and reduce your anxiety levels. You can try relaxation techniques like breathing, meditation, or even progressive muscle relaxation. Practicing this technique will help you stay calm and reduce your anxiety levels at work.

  • Try to take a deep and slow breath; it will help to lower your heart rate and counteract the feeling of dizziness. It also gives you a sense of control and further helps to reduce your sense of fear.

  • You can also try mindfulness meditation at work as one of your coping strategies. When you are in a heightened emotional state, you allow yourself to take things slow and focus on the present rather than worrying about the future.

  • You can use a wellness app that offers mindfulness features ranging from 5 minutes of mental stability meditation to an intense 18-minute breathing session to manage distractions at work.

2. Try To Take A Break.


If you are not feeling well and need to step away, you should try to take a break. Working continuously can have a tangible effect on your mental and physical health. A sedentary lifestyle can worsen your anxiety, so it is best to take regular breaks throughout the day to give yourself time to recharge and refocus.

You can take a quick walk outside, do some light stretching, or listen to music if it helps you stay calm. If you need more time to refocus before returning to work, ask your manager for extra time.

Suggested Read: 12 Fantastic Ways To Relax At Work And Let Go

3. Manage Your Time And Prioritize Your Tasks.


One of the most common factors behind anxiety attacks at work is a lack of time management skills or feeling overwhelmed with pending tasks or meeting deadlines at work. Try to prioritize your tasks into smaller ones and start by focusing on the most important ones. Breaking down your task list into smaller and more manageable ones will help reduce your anxiety and make you feel less overwhelmed.

Again. Time management plays a crucial role in dealing with anxiety at work. You can use time-management strategies to stay organized and on track. You can even make a to-do list so that you don't panic at the last moment and do not miss deadlines or important meetings.

4. Keep A Healthy Lifestyle And Limit Your Caffeine Intake.


Maintaining a healthy lifestyle can benefit your health both physically and mentally. Because of your busy lifestyle, most of your eating habits or sleep patterns are unhealthy, leading to more health issues and mental health issues like anxiety and stress due to lack of sleep, proper nutrition, or excessive caffeine intake.

Leading a healthy lifestyle is the best way to reduce stress and anxiety. You can boost your endorphin levels and improve your mood by exercising regularly. Limiting caffeine intake at work or after work can help you feel less anxious.

Although it may seem like cigarettes are calming, nicotine is a powerful stimulant that leads to higher, not lower, anxiety levels. It only makes your anxiety worse.

5. Know Your Triggers.


Although most of the time, anxiety attacks might come out of the blue, and a few common situations or factors can trigger your anxiety. Recognizing or trying to identify what triggers your anxiety can help you take effective steps and coping techniques to prevent them as much as possible.

Recognizing your triggers can help you formulate an effective strategy to manage your anxiety levels. Again, when you recognize your symptoms, you can respond quickly when you feel you might be getting an anxiety attack.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What Can Trigger Anxiety Attacks At Work?

Anxiety attacks at work can be triggered by a lot of factors including a stressful environment, unrealistic deadlines, lack of work-life balance, or even conflicts with colleagues or managers at work.

2. What Treatments Are Available For Anxiety Attacks?

Treatment options for anxiety attacks may include therapy, medication, or a combination of both. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) can be particularly effective in helping individuals learn coping skills and manage symptoms of anxiety.

Summing It Up

Worrying or experiencing anxiety at work is a mental health condition you have no control over. It is natural for you to get overwhelmed with something that might bother you, and opening up about it and not hiding it is one of the best ways to deal with it.

While the self-helping strategy can be effective, it can be challenging to break away from your thoughts and anxiety altogether alone. Suppose you are experiencing severe anxiety attacks at work or impacting your ability to work or carry out your daily task. In that case, seeking mental health professionals for help is best.

I hope this article helped you better understand anxiety attacks and how to manage them at work.

This article is written by Neha Yasmin who is a content marketer at Vantage Circle. A selenophile with a penchant for discovering great meals and drinks. Is a self-proclaimed binge racer with a knack for cooking in her spare time. For queries, reach out to editor@vantagecircle.com

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