How Do I Cope with an Anxiety Attack When I Am at Work?

If you have been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder or you find yourself struggling with the occasional anxiety attack, you know that it has an impact on your work situation. There are a lot of job stresses, and dealing with problems, managing personal relationships, setting deadlines and meeting them, making presentations, participating in meetings, and managing others can all create a level anxiety that triggers an attack. These can cause you to miss work, make excuses to avoid events with your co-workers, and compromise your ability to meet deadlines.


The following discussion should give you some tips to follow when you feel an anxiety attack coming. Being able to manage the situation can help you to feel more confident and comfortable at work.

Recognize the Symptoms of an Oncoming Attack

Anxiety attacks don’t go from 0 to 100; they build. A study of attacks that were considered spontaneous or unexpected revealed that there were significant respiratory and nervous system irregularities that preceded the attack by up to an hour. That’s a good thing to know because it means you can get prepared before you are mid-panic.

The following are signs associated with an approaching panic attack:

  • Numbness
  • Racing pulse
  • Choking
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Tightness of chest
  • Trembling
  • Hot flashes or a cold chill
  • Breathing difficulty
  • Tingling in extremities

Be mindful if you feel these symptoms coming on. Also, when you have panic attacks, try backtracking to determine the signs you were given by your body. This will allow you to begin addressing the attack as soon as possible and you might be able to head it off entirely.

Take Action

Some therapists subscribe to a process called TIP, which is an acronym for temperature, intense exercise, progressive breathing. All steps should be followed in order.

Temperature (cold): When you start to panic, you trigger your body’s fight or flight response and that leads to tensing of the blood vessels, which increases body temperature quickly. The body often responds by perspiring, which can cause hot flashes to become chills. Yu are also more sensitive to temperature when you are having an attack and that can lead you to be more aware you are heating up. By applying something cold to your body, you can begin to calm down because you are countering these responses.

While you are at work, you can go to the bathroom and run cold water over your wrists or place a cold paper towel on the back of your neck. You can also step outside the building if it is cold outside. Consider keeping an ice pack in the freezer if you work somewhere with a kitchen. Drinking cold water can also help.

Intense exercise: Both before and during a panic attack, you can begin to ease your anxiety by exercising. Anxiety sensitivity is a risk factor for developing anxiety and associated disorders. Research indicates it is a less influential factor when a person routinely exercises. Exercise also affects mood by combating depression, anxiety, and general stress. It is also a great outlet for releasing feelings of panic.

While you are at work, you will need to know where you can safely be active without calling attention to yourself or disturbing others. If you can’t leave the premises, try activities like running in place, stretching, and jumping jacks. If you can leave, try going for a brisk walk or a jog.

Progressive breathing: This type of breathing is associated with both yoga and meditation and is often called a cleansing breath. Inhale through your nose for five seconds, hold that breath for five seconds, and exhale through your mouth for five seconds. Take deep diaphragm breaths. Keep one hand on your abdomen and make sure you feel it expanding with each breath.  
Jill Turner is a writer and therapist who works with a wide variety of patients, many of whom suffer from anxiety attacks. She also write about the link of depression to addiction. The methods recommended in this post have proven very effective among her clients. You can also check this website for those who suffer such illness.

Jessica JonesHow Do I Cope with an Anxiety Attack When I Am at Work?

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