4 Tips to Get to Work, Feel Steady Despite Anxiety Attacks
Anxiety can severely limit lives, so much so that it can be difficult to leave the house to go to work (or anywhere else, for that matter). Anxiety symptoms can be crushing and exhausting, and anxiety attacks or panic attacks* can leave you overwhelmed, drained, physically ill, and haunted by strong, negative thoughts and emotions. This makes daily functioning, including going to work, incredibly difficult. While it's not necessarily a quick and easy process, you can break free from the shackles of anxiety, anxiety attacks, or panic attacks and not only get to work but feel steady and actually enjoy life again.
2 Approaches to Getting to Work and Feeling Steady
Anxiety and anxiety attacks are loud, persistent, and demand attention. They want to be in charge. There are two general approaches to stomping down anxiety, walking over the top of it, and doing what you want and need to do, such as getting to work and feeling steady while doing it.
- Turn your attention to something else.
- Be louder and prouder than anxiety.
To be sure, it is hard not to pay attention to anxiety. It takes over thoughts, feelings, the body, and actions. The more we focus on it and all of its symptoms and limits, though, the more we feed it. Concentrating on anxiety, even on how much we hate it, only serves to fuel the fire. What we pay attention to is what grows and flourishes. As difficult as it is to do, especially at first, when we turn our attention to something else, we expand our lives and begin to extinguish anxiety. Without fuel, a fire burns itself out. Without our undivided focus and attention, anxiety also burns itself out (or at least becomes ashes and embers that we can easily step over and otherwise manage).
Anxiety can be loud. It shouts and screams, often in the form of intense anxiety attacks or panic attacks. Consequently, anxiety can come to dominate our thoughts, feelings, and actions. Like standing up to a bully, making your voice louder than anxiety's can cause anxiety to shrink and slink off into the shadows while you carry on with your life.
The following four tips allow you to use both approaches to most effectively break free from anxiety so you can go to work or anyplace else you want or need to be.
4 Tips to Get to Work or Elsewhere and Feel Steady
The first two tips help with turning your attention to something else. The last two allow you to be louder and prouder than anxiety. Be patient with yourself as you develop them, and use them consistently so you can live your life on your terms rather than on anxiety's terms.
- Develop your purpose. Living with meaning is a powerful way to overcome anxiety. Why do you go to work? What does it allow you to do? When work becomes a means to a meaningful end, it becomes easier to persevere despite anxiety.
- Identify one positive thing about your workplace. Is there one person you connect with? Maybe there's a location that makes you feel comfortable. What is one aspect of the atmosphere that you like? Perhaps you have an object in your own workspace that you like, and that can become a focus object. Having even one person, thing, or situation at work can be very centering and help you feel safer and more secure. Identifying and using support and resources is a powerful coping skill.
- Know your whole self. You know anxiety's nature because anxiety makes itself loud and clear. Anxiety is not you. It's not even part of who you are. It's an experience, something you deal with. Thinking of anxiety as one of your personality traits zaps self-confidence and makes it very hard to move forward. It's hard to go to work when you think of anxiety as part of yourself because wherever you go, that anxious part of you will be there, too. Sure, some of us have a tendency to experience anxious thoughts and feelings. Sometimes anxiety affects behavior (such as keeping you home from work or away from certain situations). But those aren't integral components of your self. Start to reflect, perhaps in a journal, on who you really are. What are your strengths, skills, and talents? What is important to you? Reflect on your true qualities daily to own them.
- Celebrate your successes. Every little action taken, even if it's just getting dressed and walking toward the door, is a step away from anxiety and something to be celebrated. Overcoming anxiety isn't an all-or-nothing endeavor. Set small goals for getting to work and feeling steady enough to stay there and celebrate each and every positive step. Active celebrations can be small, such as listening to (and maybe even dancing) to your favorite song, having a favorite healthy beverage or snack, or giving yourself some time to do something you enjoy. Celebrations reinforce your positive actions and accomplishments by activating your brain's reward center. Feel-good hormones replace stress hormones, leaving you wanting more of this positive, free feeling. Your brain remembers this and is encouraged to do more of what works in the future. You also teach yourself that you are indeed stronger than anxiety.
In searching for information on how to make it to work, stay there, and even feel steady, secure, and calm despite living with debilitating anxiety, you have already taken steps toward meeting your goal and reclaiming your life. You have hope, motivation, and inner strength. All of these are positive qualities that show that no matter how strong your anxiety is, you are stronger. Anxiety has plenty of tricks up its sleeve to restrict your life. These four tools are strategies you can put up your own sleeve to overpower anxiety, anxiety attacks, and panic attacks. You can once again get to work consistently and enjoy it.
* A brief note on anxiety attacks and panic attacks: These are two distinct experiences. While it's a bit more complex than this, it helps to think of these attacks as having similar symptoms and lingering effects but different causes. Anxiety attacks have an obvious cause or trigger [an anxiety-provoking situation or thoughts about a situation], while panic attacks often have no readily obvious cause other than, perhaps, the fear of having one.
Peterson, T. (2021, April 15). 4 Tips to Get to Work, Feel Steady Despite Anxiety Attacks, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2022, August 17 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/anxiety-schmanxiety/2021/4/4-tips-to-get-to-work-feel-steady-despite-anxiety-attacks