How to manage anxiety in the office
For people that are effected by anxiety disorder, in particular panic disorders, the task of disguising it in an office environment can prove an enormous challenge.
There is nothing worse than being exposed in an open plan office, whilst on the verge of a panic attack!
Feeling the rise of anxiety all day can make it impossible to carry out a normal, professional conversation, whilst you are distressed on the inside. If you manage to achieve this, well done to you!
These are my tips for managing anxiety when not in the comfort of your home. This could really be adapted to any public situation.
Deal with it
If you have been dealing with anxiety for a while, you will start to notice your warning signs. It’s different for everyone, but try to be conscious and objective about what is happening to yourself.
Then deal with it as soon as you can. By worrying about the worrying and letting it build, the situation could quickly escalate. If there is someone you trust in the workplace, tell them you are feeling anxious and need some time to steady yourself.
How to deal with it
This can be trial and error for you, but a wonderful technique is mindfulness. More specifically there is informal mindfulness which can be practised by those of us with busy schedules, who are unable to sit in a formal meditation mindfulness.
It can be used early on to deal with building anxiety and to try to prevent a possible panic attack. When feeling anxious, stop, focus on what you are doing right now, and discuss it in your mind.
For example, you can look out the office window with your cup of tea and tell yourself for example “Doesn’t the view look great, isn’t the cup of tea warm in my hands, I can even hear some birds chirping, or I
can hear the printer in the office”. Ok, it sounds a little silly, but it takes your mind from being ‘worked up’ to being back to the present. The point is to not worry about the future, or dwell on the past; but to simply observe the here and now.
Office workers and caffeine go hand in hand right? Well, not for you anymore. Please cut the caffeine as much as you can.
Caffeine, either in coffee or energy drinks has been found to effect those particularly with panic disorders, and also stress, anxiety and depression. See some findings here
Try decaf or herbal tea. Even try tea with caffeine if you have to, as this has substantially less caffeine than espresso’s. Especially if you are having 2 large lattes a day.
Keep nutrition clean, plenty of water and significantly limit caffeine during the day.
Do you notice when you are anxious that you are breathing high in your chest? Or perhaps not at all! Take long slow belly breathes and feel your shoulders drop, and that lump in your chest subside. Keep this up at various intervals throughout the day. Don’t wait until you have to!
Good luck, keep on top of it and make priority to take time out when you can. Even 5 minutes will help.
Cassandra writes for This Is Wellbeing, a blog with healthy food recipes and tips for wellbeing.