How to Deal with Panic Attacks In The Workplace
This week we are wrapping up our series on anxiety and the workplace. And for the final episode I wanted to discuss the topic panic attacks because it is a question I get frequently. Panic attacks are the highest level of anxiety a person can experience. On a scale of discomfort ranging from 1-10, panic attacks are a very clear 10! And for people who struggle with panic attacks one of the scariest things about them is they can happen at any time, often for no apparent reason. You could be watching a movie, out grabbing a bite to eat, or even sitting at your desk and bam it strikes without warning.
When panic symptoms arise it's very natural to resist them and avoid whatever situation might be triggering the response. But as you will see in the episode, when we resist panic symptoms and avoid things that trigger us it often makes things much worse. As the old sayin’ goes, “what we resist, persist.” So in this episode, I want to discuss what to do when a panic attack surfaces at work so you feel equipped to handle it, if and when it arises.
Have a great week,
Speaker 1 (00:05):
All right. Hey there. And welcome to another episode of the restored mind show. My name's Matt Codde. And on this episode, we're going to be talking about the, this idea of panic attacks in the workplace or panic attacks about unemployment, right? So panic attacks, you know, for those of you that have never experienced them, it is probably the highest form of anxiety. One can experience. I mean, if you had to rate a continuum, you know, from one to 10 of, okay, well, you know, if, if one is, well, you know, I'm not sure about this, you know, this test that I've been studying for tomorrow. Right. And I feel a little anxious about it. 10 is like, okay, I'm, I'm I think my heart's about to explode outside of my chest, right? Like that's a, that's a panic attack, right? It's this huge surge of energy.
Speaker 1 (00:55):
And, um, you know, it, it is incredibly uncomfortable, you know, I myself, uh, have experienced a panic attacks and, um, and I, I can attest, and I've also been with many clients and worked with many clients that, um, struggle with panic attacks. Now, panic attacks are usually a, you know, I mean, you know, there's been people that report that they happen, you know, frequently. Um, but a lot of times what happens is panic attacks are attached to another form of anxiety, right? So someone might have social anxiety and get a panic attack when they're in a social situation or, you know, someone might have, um, you know, panic attacks and then become a Gore phobic because they don't want to have another panic attack. Right. Um, but when we talk about panic attacks in the workplace, um, specifically what I'm talking about is this idea that, you know, you, you could either be afraid or have had a panic attack at work.
Speaker 1 (01:51):
And in which case, you know, work can become scary because you're afraid of having another panic attack. Right. That's usually, um, you know, when I talk with people, that's, that's kind of the fear is that, um, or the anxiety is this idea of having another panic attack at work, or maybe you've had panic attacks elsewhere. Right. And, um, at that point, you know, you're afraid that it could happen at work. Right. So there's, let's talk about that first. Um, and the, the, the trick with panic attacks, right. Is that the more there's this phrase that I, you know, I constantly say, and, and again, um, I want to definitely say here, right. And this, this idea that what you resist persists. Right. And it's just so true when it comes to feelings in panic attacks. Right. In, in what happens with panic attacks is that we become afraid of experiencing that kind of energy again.
Speaker 1 (02:47):
And what happens is then we try to control our environment to make sure that that doesn't happen. The problem is, is that when we do that, you know, it becomes, um, you know, our, our lives become more and more limited, right? So oftentimes I've seen people quit jobs, right. Because they're afraid they might have a panic attack and they'll take a job. They necessarily don't want just because they don't want to have a panic attack. And, you know, some people might argue that that's a good solution, right. Me, um, on the other hand, because, you know, I've had having lived, you know, through, um, a time of anxiety in my life where it really was damaging my life. Um, you know, I don't agree with that. You know, I take the full stance that like, we can not let anxiety control or limit any part of our life.
Speaker 1 (03:35):
Right. And that's really what the battle of anxiety is. Right. A lot of us think anxiety is a battle, um, or OCD and anxiety is a battle when w when it comes to thoughts or feelings, but the battle really is, is who's really in control of your life. Is it the fear, or is it you right? And if you're allowing the fear to dictate your life, you're not in control. Right. And that's just the hard reality. And, and a lot of us, you know, many people live their entire lives like that. You know, they're just always living according to fear. Right. And that's, uh, and that leads to, you know, a very limited way of living. And so the, when it comes to the idea of having a fear about having panic attacks at work, even if you've had one,
Speaker 2 (04:23):
The trick to it is, is to go to
Speaker 1 (04:26):
The complete opposite route. And I know this is going to sound a little crazy, but this is really, you know, my, my experience of how you overcome and how you get through a panic attack.
Speaker 2 (04:35):
Is that okay?
Speaker 1 (04:38):
You can't be afraid of having one. Now you, you have to be willing to face that fear of, okay. You know, what maybe that will happen. Right. And really, really be willing to meet it head on. Right. And, and that's, you know, one of the things, you know, that's why, like, in my, um, you know, when I work with anyone, right? It's like we teach an aggressive approach about dealing with fear and anxiety, because there can only be one real, you know, um, one Willard, real aggressor in this fight, you know, you're either going to be the one taking the fight to, or, you know, getting the fight brought on you. And when it comes to panic attacks, you have to be willing to say, okay, you know, what, if it happens, it happens and go do it anyway. Right. If you're afraid of having a panic attack at work, okay.
Speaker 1 (05:20):
You know what I'm going to go to work. And if it happens, it happens right. And be willing to entertain that uncertainty and go through your day. Anyway. Now, if the panic symptoms come on, one of the worst things we can do is try to push those symptoms way, try to suppress them. Right. Cause because essentially what happens, it's like taking a big beach ball and stuffing it under water. Well, what's going to happen. Right. It's just going to shoot up to the surface. And in that case, in the same, same way with panic attacks is that we have to be willing to let them come on, realize that they're temporary, right. There, there is no feeling you've ever felt that that's been permanent. Feelings are always temporary and that it will pass with time. You will not, it cannot hurt you. Right. You know, that, that willingness to stand there and feel it fully is a very, very critical part of, um, you know, of that, of that conquering when the panic attack surfaces.
Speaker 1 (06:11):
So at work, you know, yeah. You might be in a meeting and you might feel the symptoms come on. And the best thing you can do is just to stay in, not, and not try to do anything, not run out of the office, but to stay calm, stay present, observe the feelings, realize that they're not you, there's something that you are experiencing, right. They're separate of you and that they will pass in time. And that willingness to separate yourself from your feelings and feel them head on is just, is just so, so critical to your success when it comes to navigating panic attacks. Now in the second thing I want to talk about is having panic attacks, um, you know, about being unemployed. Right. And I know that a lot of people right now are in that situation, right. A lot of people lost jobs unexpectedly suddenly.
Speaker 1 (06:55):
And what happens is, is that like I was, like I was talking about last week is that the, the mind just runs with that. Right. I mean, and then it creates all these other problems, right. So, you know, if you currently are unemployed or in looking for a job, and I even, I don't even like to say that I like to say just in transition, right. Because you're just in this space between your old job and your new job, that's, that's it. Right. And, and in many ways, I, I try to encourage people to enjoy that space because oftentimes it's, it's very short lived and people will look back on times where they're unemployed and be like, man, I wish I would've done this, this, this, this, the, the courage, the courageous thing to do is actually enjoy that time and trust that good things are coming and that the next door will open.
Speaker 1 (07:39):
And if you actually have that trust in that, you can actually enjoy this time that you have. Right. Um, but sometimes, you know, these panic attacks will arise. And, you know, in, in this situation specifically, my, my thought is, is that panic is oftentimes like, um, just this buildup of energy. Right. You know, and I mean, and it kind of starts with little thoughts that are just going, and then all of a sudden, you know, it kind of feeds and then it grows and grows and grows. And then it's just like this volcano erupts. Now, one of the things is, is panic attacks can come on very sudden, you know, you could be driving, you could be feeling fine. You could be sitting there watching movie. And all of a sudden these symptoms and these sensations can just start kind of onsetting out of nowhere.
Speaker 1 (08:22):
And it can be very scary. Right. I mean, you know, if we think about it, it's the same. It is the same exact response that you would have if there was something, you know, life threatening right in front of you, if a lion was running at you, right. That stress response is the same response you're feeling. And you're feeling it like a level 10. Right. When I, like, when I talked about panic, right? It's like, it's a level 10 experience. So, but, but again, when you can look around and evaluate and say, okay, there's, there's nothing wrong. That's what part of what makes panic attacks so scary for people is because that same energy, if saw a threat in front of you, you would use that energy to, you know, fight or flee, you know, a threat. So if a lion was coming at you you'd use that, that surge of energy, your body would use it to run faster, to fight harder and all this stuff to survive.
Speaker 1 (09:09):
But with panic attacks, what happens is that onset of energy happens and there is no threat. And therefore, like there's nothing to do, right. So your body's like, well, what's going on? What do I do? And just like in the same, um, the same way though, the trick with panic attacks is to not, not do anything to suppress or get rid of the feelings, but instead to allow them surface. And again, I know that sounds counterintuitive. And we explain this in, in depth and really go into depth on this, in our, um, in our program at restored minds, with overcoming OCD and anxiety, you know, we have a whole section on panic attacks and, and many people who've successfully use those tools to navigate panic attacks to the point where they're able to go through them in it and eventually get to the point where, you know, they, they subside and they don't happen because if you experienced them correctly, that's, that's how your body, your body knows what to do with that energy, if you trust it.
Speaker 1 (10:01):
And that is again, part of, you know, the same part of anxiety that always happens is that a lot of our problem comes from this idea that we try to control something that can't be controlled, whether it's the future, whether it's our thoughts, whether it's our feelings and the more we try to control something, they can't be controlled. Can't be controlled the more, um, the more turmoil we get into right. With ourself. And so, um, the key thing that I really want to just make sure we drive home in this episode is that when those feelings of panic onset to move with them and towards them, not away from them, because if you move away from them, what you resist persists, it will get worse. And that's what happens with panic attacks. And so, and then also, um, if you're afraid of having them, right, and we'll probably talk about this in another episode.
Speaker 1 (10:50):
Um, it's so, so imperative that you don't go into avoidance behaviors because you're afraid of having one, because that just reinforces the idea that you won't be able to handle it and you're getting your life just become more and more limited. So, um, you know, that's all I really want to talk about in this episode. Um, you know, if you found this helpful as always, you know, please subscribe like follow, um, you know, and share this with someone, um, that, you know, might find it helpful. It's always great. Um, for us to get this stuff out to people to help, um, we also have additional resources for you, um, or people, you know, that are struggling over at our site, restored mines.com. And, um, yeah, we just want to thank you for tuning in this week. We hope this helped you a lot. And we look forward to continuing this series next week. Um, as we're probably gonna move in to talk more about panic attacks. So thank you. And I hope you have a great day.