I'll never forget the time when I had panic attacks in work.
It wasn't sudden, but a build up of over a few years. One minute I would be fine talking to customers on the phone, the next minute I would be getting very hot under the collar, very clammy, and really panicky at saying the wrong word that could trigger a customer to start getting irate.
I hated it.
It's funny that you can look back at these things years ago and sort off smile…but back then, it wasn't funny. It was deadly serious. But I didn't know what it was.
I sort of knew about panic attacks and extreme stress, but I had no idea of what a burnout was. I was in my mid twenties for crying out loud. Life wasn't meant to be like this. But it was, especially for me. This was my life, and I was supposed to just accept it, not complain about it, deal with it and move on!
So that was it…for a period of about 2 1/2 years, I was constantly clammy, constantly rubbing my hands, constantly sipping water to trying to comfort myself; wandering whether the next customer was going to be nice or mean and wandering why I was panicky, feeling light headed and felt like I was going to pass out. I had know idea that I was able to use little techniques to eliminate a panic, and I certainly had no idea that I could use mindfulness to overcome those feelings of dread. For me, panic attacks at work was a way of life.
I even tried some Bach’s flower remedies to try to relax myself, but even that didn't always work (although sometimes it did). I will say, looking back at it now, that I made the situation 10 times harder than it needed to be.
I should've gotten my sleep, yet at the time, 5 1/2 hours was luxury
I should've used mindfulness meditation, but at the time, I was more into Qi meditation than mindfulness…not a bad meditation to be fair, but it's not going to do much to reduce the effects of an over-stimulated Amygdala.
Panic attacks and anxiety in the workplace is responsible for over $37 billion of the mental health bill, which pretty much means (that at the risk of sounding harsh), if you are not able to cope with and eventually eliminate your condition, not only is it sucking the life and soul out of you, it is also part of the problem that is costing billions.
Yet most of us understand the symptoms of excessive anxiety in the workplace: they range from being unable to focus, to sleep deprivation (including insomnia), from panic attacks to worrying excessively to the point of paranoia, plus much more.
So how do we improve our coping skills so we don't feel our soul being sucked away from our life, and are therefore able to at least enjoy the aspects of the job that we find simple to do?
1 – Practice mindfulness throughout the day
Doing this alone will help reduce your anxiety in a very short space of time and will reduce the onset of a panic attack. Just taking a few minutes when the going gets tough is all that is required to restore a mental clarity and resume focus, so your main work doesn't suffer.
You can achieve being present in various ways, but one of the easiest I have found is to widen your peripheral vision. This alone will help you reduce the mental chit-chatter and will restore a peaceful mind.
2 – Take exercise during break times
Maybe a short walk or even walking your car, whatever it takes to get you outside. This will help, ‘walk off' the anxiety and will allow you to slowly relax, and take your mind of the anxiety or panic attack. Practicing mindfulness while doing this is a great way of getting better at being mindful.
3 -Meditate during your lunchtime
If you can do it, meditating in the privacy of your own car during the lunch break is a good way of reducing the anxiety and help reduce the onset of a future panic attack. I used to do a form of Chakra meditation, where I would visualize a spinning colored flower, the color dependent upon the Chakra that I would like to open and balance, but any kind of meditation should work for you, as long as you can get into a relaxed sitting position in your car.
4 – Practice deep breathing
Doing this will help calm yourself down and will also help reduce a current panic attack. It will also give you a clarity of mind that will help reduce the onset of any future intense anxiety.
Just by taking a minute to breath gently but deeply should allow the current anxiety to slowly subside. If you wish, take a deep belly breath via you nose, hold for 4 seconds, and then slowly release through your mouth. Doing this for a minute will help calm your nerves down.
5 – Get your sleep/power-nap
Getting your sleep is vital for reducing future panic attacks, but admittedly it can be a viscous circle. You can be that stressed at work, that getting your required 7-8 hours can be a huge task. If you find that you cannot switch off when going to bed, and end up getting a poor nights sleep, trying looking into supplements to help you relax, or try Bach Flower remedies.
For the immediate short term, trying getting a power-nap during your break times. Just 10-15 minutes of a nap is enough to keep your energy levels up, and will allow you to have some mental focus back.
6 – Open up your Heart Chakra
I put this one last, because of its spiritualistic nature, but what you can do if you feel panic coming on is to see people as extensions of yourself. I know this may sound weird, but it does strangely open up your Heart Chakra, so you can feel a deep compassion swell and fill your heart.
This has a nice soothing effect, and will even help reduce a future panic episode. Using the combination of opening up your Heart Chakra while being present can be a very powerful duo in combating anxiety attacks and restoring peace of mind.
Try the above and let me know how it goes on. Suffering from panic attacks in the workplace, when you're trying to enjoy life and do work, is not only a terrible thing for a sufferer to go through, it's also a waste of a precious life. By doing the above exercises, you can be sure that a recovery isn't too far away.