The workplace is often fast-paced and filled with ever-increasing demands making it a prime place for stress to spike. And when it does, and you become stressed and anxious, merely telling yourself to stop being nervous is a bit like telling yourself to fall asleep when you have insomnia—it doesn’t work. So, what do you do? Well, I believe if you learn these five simple anxiety attack coping skills, you will be better prepared to calm your anxiety the next time you begin to feel the pressure of stress.
Whether it’s a tight deadline, dealing with office gossip and politics or unrealistic expectation by supervisors, etc., if you don’t manage your anxiety, it has the potential to affect your job performance negatively and even ruin your career.
SYMPTOMS OF ANXIETY
- Unrealistic or excessive worry
- Racing or pounding heart
- Exaggerated startle reactions
- Trouble concentrating or inability to finish tasks
- Muscle tension
- Sleeping difficulties such as insomnia
- You call in sick to work frequently
Is Anxiety Holding You Back?
Let’s say you recognize some of the above symptoms of anxiety. In that case, know that it can easily translate into such things as difficulty working with clients, co-workers, trouble concentrating, and turning down assignments because of the fear of failure.
Having dealt with anxiety over the years myself, I will tell you about something that happened to me many years ago. It seems absurd now in todays world but it has always stuck in my memory because I’ve often wondered about how it hindered me in my early career.
I think I was around 20 years old, and a former boss and a former co-worker from a previous job called me and asked if I would like to come work with them at their current place of employment. We made a date for me to check the new site out and see if I was interested. I showed up, and everything was going great until I found out I would be working with a computer system.
I know this dates me, but this was in the early ’80s, and office computers were still relatively new. Well, I’m embarrassed to admit it, but I panicked and made some flimsy excuse why I couldn’t accept the job.
My anxiety was real back then, and I allowed it to get the best of me. You see, my fear of failure or fear that I would be found incompetent in doing the job made me turn it down.
Fortunately, I was young and soon realized that computers were here to stay and that many people were on a learning curve. My point in telling you my little story is that despite the details of my experience being different from yours, anxiety results remain the same. And they could be holding you back from reaching your full potential in the workplace.
Anxiety Attack Coping Skills
The good news is, you do not have to succumb to anxiety and let it hold you back from success and satisfaction. Let’s look at some anxiety attack coping skills I believe will help you.
1. Calm your breathing pattern.
When you’re anxious, you tend to breathe in your upper lungs with rapid, shallow breaths. Instead, try breathing into your lower lungs, expanding your abdomen.
- Take a long, slow breath in through your nose, filling your lower lungs first and then your upper lungs.
- Hold your breath for a count of “three.”
- Exhale slowly through pursed lips as you relax the muscles in your face, jaw, shoulders, and stomach.
To become familiar and comfortable with this breathing technique, practice it throughout the day for a couple of weeks. That way, you will be ready to use it whenever you begin to feel anxiety building and want to experience a sense of calmness.
2. Use positive self-talk.
Constantly reminding yourself how nervous you are and telling yourself you can’t handle anything more amplifies the anxiety and will ultimately paralyze you. Instead, when anxiety wants to rear its ugly head, try telling yourself the following:
- This feeling will pass.
- I am going to be okay.
- I can get through this.
- When overwhelmed with a project, tell yourself. “I will work on it for 20 minutes and check to see how I’m feeling.”
3. Get up and move around.
Many people are stuck behind a computer all day, barely blinking, let alone moving around. If you can, take short breaks throughout the day to release pent-up energy. Other things to try:
- Go outside and take a quick walk in the fresh air.
- Run some cool water over your pulse points.
- Find a private place to do some jumping jacks or running in place.
- For times you can’t leave your desk or work area, do stretches or tense and relax different muscle groups to help calm your mind and body.
4. Separate large tasks into more manageable time frames.
Instead of looking at your entire day’s schedule as a whole and getting overwhelmed, prioritize what needs to get done. Break the tasks down and give yourself a certain amount of time to finish them.
For example, set a goal of working on tasks on a thirty-minute or hourly basis. When you complete a couple of tasks, you can re-evaluate your schedule. After completing a couple of hours, take a break and praise yourself for getting through those hours of work.
5. Reach out to a friend or people around you.
There are times when stress and anxiety build to a point where you feel you will explode if you don’t do something about it. For those times, it’s good to have a friend or co-worker you can go to so you can express what you are feeling.
Just being able to email or talk to someone who will give you validation, comfort, and reassurance that you are capable of getting through the situation can help relieve the amount of pressure needed to help you get through the day.
“Sometimes the most important thing in a whole day is the rest taken between two deep breaths.” – Etty Hillesum
It’s unrealistic to think you can eliminate all stress from your job. However, you can be prepared when anxiety hits by practicing these five anxiety attack coping skills I’ve shared with you today. And if you would like to develop more coping skills to help you manage job stress and be more successful in the workplace, working with an anxiety coach is a great way to go.
Hi, I’m Kris Henderson, LPC. I want you to know that I am here to help. The easiest way to start taking control of your anxiety is to take the FREE 5-Day Anxiety Detox Challenge. If you would like more personalized support, I invite you to contact me or make an appointment online. There are numerous coping skills to combat anxiety that are helpful but not always one best way to proceed.Together we will figure out which anxiety attack coping skills are likely to work best for you in your situation.