What to do if you experience a panic attack at work
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While conversations around mental health are improving, people often still shy away from talking about how it affects their work life. There is undoubtedly a perceived ‘weakness’ and fragility surrounding those working with mental health issues, hence, many of us don’t feel comfortable enough to disclose it to our bosses. Yet, a YouGov study has shown that 1 in 4 students suffer. So, what do you do if you experience anxiety or a panic attack whilst you’re working? I have recently begun a summer job, and, being completely new to working in a bar, I have expectedly made a few mistakes. However, after a long, tiresome and busy shift, I forgot to print a drinks ticket, leading to feelings of guilt and personal shaming by some of the management. As an advocate for cathartic crying, I tried to get it out of my system, but the more I tried to suppress my anxiety to continue serving customers, the worse it became. I ended up having a panic attack in the storeroom, becoming increasingly worked up because I was worried about how I would be thought of for reacting in such a way. After getting myself into such a state I couldn’t continue to work, but luckily received support from my co-workers, who said that they experienced a lot of anxiety and took criticism more personally in their first jobs as well. Experiencing a panic attack is never nice, especially if it happens when you're at work. So, here’s what you can do to try and lessen the effect of anxiety and panic disorder at work: 1. Acknowledge the existence of your anxiety, and letting it take its course Our bodies work in a funny way; the more we tell ourselves to stop crying, or the more we tell ourselves to stop wanting that chocolate cake, the more we do. Whether it’s because you’ve made a mistake, or it’s stressfully busy - excuse yourself to a quiet place. Taking a few moments to implement breathing techniques to feel calmer will stop the anxiety from festering, you’ll be less aware of it, and less prone to making mistakes. This may stop it from spiralling into a bigger panic attack which takes a lot longer to recover from.
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