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Work-Related Anxiety & Panic Attacks? 3 Things To Keep In Mind

Tapish works as a management consultant at a multinational company with long-working hours and cut-throat competition. Many a time he has found himself getting anxiety attacks over an important project or a never ending assignment. He also misses his hobbies that he once held dear but now are nowhere to be seen in his life.

As the competition to get a job is increasing over time, more and more people are now willing to give up their personal life to build a professional one! This means that almost everyone is working around people who are overworked, exhausted, and on the cusp of ranting to their HR or managers! Statistically, an ever-increasing number of employees globally have been complaining about not just physical issues like back pain caused due to sitting at a single spot for 8-12 hours, but also mental issues like anxiety, depression, and panic attacks! Let’s try to figure out some ways in which you can work and not get worked up!

Recognising the problem and accepting it

The first step in solving any problem is accepting that you have one! No, you’re not lazy as others may call it, you’re not “not used to the pressure of working in a fast-paced environment”, but you’re overwhelmed with what all has been thrown your way in the past few months or years! One of the reasons why most people’s depression, anxiety, and panic attacks go uncured is because they go undiagnosed. A good line to draw on the scale of ‘I can treat it myself’ and ‘I have to meet a doctor’ is when your problem begins to take a toll on your physical or mental health/well-being, or you feel overwhelmed, or simply when the problem has been troubling you for more than 30 days. Asking for some help might help you put on a better battle in the long run! 

After you realise that there is something troubling you, you must move on to the next step- which is, what exactly is troubling you? Is it the work timings? Is it the workload? Is it some toxic co-workers or is it your boss? For Tapish, the majority of his problems were because of the disrupted work-life balance. Once you’re able to narrow down your cause of concern, it is quite possible that you’re able to find a solution to it after you calm down, take a deep breath and get some coffee for yourself. 

The Three Mantras of the Working Professional

There are three golden work stress mantras that can save you from your next heart attack. So, while you sit in your cubicle, wondering “Am I being paid enough for this?” 

  1. “Is my worrying adding anything to my deliverable?”: Think about this. You’ve been worrying more than you’ve been working and that’s the reason why you’re all stressed out. Worrying won’t add any actual value to your work. In fact, it will decrease it. You will not be able to put your mind to your work or put the best work on the table. Therefore, drop the worrying! How you ask? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered in the next section of this article! But don’t get impatient, read all of this thoroughly! Remember, if there’s anything you can do about this problem, then why worry about it? And if you can’t do anything about this problem, why even worry about it? Applying this will surely help Tapish when the next “important project” comes along.
  1. “Once I enter my home, it’s no longer work time”: Imagine a line drawn across your home’s main door! Once you set your foot inside your house, you have to leave all of your office baggage-worries, stress, and anxieties outside and only take the good memories with you inside the home! Share dinner with your kids, and ask them over dinner how their day went. This will help you zoom out of your own life for a second and see the world from their perspective, experience the world once again, as a child! Have a robust family life, your kid’s innocent childhood wouldn’t come back for anything. Enjoy their little musings, their silly (and sometimes, not-so-silly-after-all) questions, try to read them a story before bed, and make sure that you’re present for them! They would not remember how much money their parents made while they were growing up, but they will surely remember how much time they spent with them while they were growing up! And this can affect many years of their lives! 
  1. “No”: Ah, the golden word of a stress-free life! ‘No’ is a magical word that stops other people in this world from crossing the boundaries that you have set for yourself! If there’s a colleague of yours who ditches you at the last moment and you have to often cover for him, this is the perfect time to start to learn the art of saying ‘no’. 

You’d be amazed by the wonders this one simple word can bring into your life. A simple ‘no’ would put boundaries in action and would prevent people from treating them like doormats. It is often the crossing of boundaries (read, working on weekends, working after shift hours, etc) that cause a person to burn out and bring less to the table! Having established boundaries in his life, Tapish finds it easy to communicate to his superiors when they are crossing one.

What are some actionable steps you can take to eliminate panic attacks and work-related anxiety?

Now, you must be thinking, all that is good and great but what can I do in practical life to improve my well-being and take less work related stress? Do not worry, we have your back with some practical steps to eliminate stress from your professional life. Here are the top ones:

  1. Delegate your work to co-workers and juniors to create a more equal workload: Sometimes, we try to do all the work ourselves. Now, this means that you’re not leveraging the benefit you have from having other smart colleagues and subordinates, taking up the burden of all the work upon your own shoulders. This turns you into an irritable boss and lowers the quality of your work as well. Instead, try to delegate the work- see what perspective others see the problem from and how they decide to solve it. The diversity of thought might even bring you some unexpected benefits. You can keep fortnightly or weekly updates to make sure that the work is being done and in a manner that you approve of. 
  1. Meditate a bit: We’ve all heard of the nursery proverb “All work and no play makes Johnny a dull boy”. Take your time off work as no time off work because you both- bored as well as boring! Now, the best way to take your mind off work is meditation. Research has found that people who meditate tend to be happier and live a longer, more stress-free life. You don’t need to be in the Himalayas with a fancy stream of water pouring down your head to be able to meditate. All you need is a silent place. And sometimes, not even that. If you’re someone who has trouble fixing their minds to a task, you can try these wonders called “guided meditations”, many of which are available for free on YouTube. You can even consider putting on music of water flowing or rain pouring or forest background music to aid your focus. 
  1. Have a talk with your HR or Manager: Now, if nothing above seems to be working out for you, you can also consider talking to your boss about this as well! Most corporations have counsellors and therapists who are especially employed to train you about effective ways to manage stress or lessen your workload by employing a person or two! Believe it or not, this is not a fight between you vs your boss, but a 3-way fight between you, your boss vs stress. If you’re happier, the entire office would function smoothly and would do better. It is proven through research that firms that take care of their employees have higher employee retention rates and are better able to make profits than other firms! Make sure you put this point ahead and plan this talk in your mind! Even practice it, if you need to! Tapish sought help from a friend who helped him practice before he talked to his Manager about the problems he has been facing.

Final Words

Life is already too stressful for you to also be carrying out work-related stress. Therefore, it becomes essential that you learn to manage stress and panic attacks, even consider taking professional help, if needed. Take your family and friends as your support system for enduring the same! You can either fight or flight! What do you choose to do? There are no right or wrong answers, make the choice depending on your own circumstances


One of my colleagues is super toxic. They try to take credit for my work and cut me off while I’m speaking. I can't deal with the office politics of it all.

These are petty situations that we all face and get stuck in! Office is the new jungle, so when something goes wrong, we usually fight or flight. But you can also rise above it! Be so good at what you do that you become absolutely irreplaceable, even for the colleagues themselves.

My workload is a lot. I can’t possibly handle all this. What should I do?

Have a one-to-one honest conversation with your HR manager! They can provide you with possible solutions for this. You can even expect some interesting workshops on handling stress and heavy workloads. Or they could even hire someone new to help you out with some work. Or they can have a conversation with your manager and reduce your workload.

How do I tell my boss that I am feeling overwhelmed with the amount of work I’ve been doing?

Just like you’ll tell anyone else! But make sure to back whatever you’re saying with data and evidence. If you say you have a lot of work, try to list what all work you have. Also, back it up with the work you’ve done in the past to highlight that you’re not being lazy and that this is a genuine issue. Do your research, find out if other colleagues are feeling the same way. You don’t need a fancy PPT, but you do need to be convincing. Do try to practice this conversation with friends or family and try to answer their counter questions, if any. All the very best!


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