What to do when you or others face anxiety attacks and suffocation at workplace | Health - Hindustan Times
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What to do when you or someone else face anxiety attacks and suffocation at workplace

ByZarafshan Shiraz, New Delhi
Sep 16, 2023 12:20 PM IST

Sometimes, people face anxiety attacks and suffocation at their workplace. Mental health experts reveal what you should do in such a situation

Anxiety attack usually involves a fear of some specific occurrence or problem that could happen and when having an anxiety attack, an individual may feel impending doom, shortness of breath, chest pain or a rapid, fluttering or pounding heart (heart palpitations). Common triggers at work include public speaking, conflict, an important meeting, a major transition such as a promotion or a big project, or a work-related social event such as a meeting with a key client or after-work drinks.

What to do when you or someone else face anxiety attacks and suffocation at workplace (Photo by Khwanchai Phanthong on Pexels)
What to do when you or someone else face anxiety attacks and suffocation at workplace (Photo by Khwanchai Phanthong on Pexels)

In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Simran Kaur, Counselling Psychologist at Lissun, talked about how to manage anxiety attacks and suffocation at the workplace and suggested, “Firstly, start by tracking the events that make you feel anxious. Maybe there are some trends, when you are looking at the beginning of the day everything that's due or maybe by the end of the day what all you have on your plate. All we have to take care is be more realistic rather than being catastrophic.” She recommended a few tips to manage:

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  1. Be organised: Clearing your work tasks is not the top priority but being more organised will do wonders and help in managing your work tasks as well.
  2. Communicate: Communication is key. Ask for help or guidance wherever required
  3. Prepare and plan: Prepare well in advance if you have any major projects planned. Set mini goals rather than setting up big goals. Divide your major tasks into small tasks as they help you reach your targets smoothly and efficiently.
  4. Take adequate breaks: If you’re feeling too worked up or feel stressed take breaks in between. Try deep breathing or take a walk to clear your head. Once you’re back you will feel more refreshed.
  5. Time management: Use your time management skills wisely as this will help you alleviate stress. Try making a to-do list and prioritising your tasks.
  6. Practice mindfulness: Mindfulness can help ground you in the reality of what’s around you. Since panic attacks can cause a feeling of detachment or separation from reality, this can combat your panic attack as it’s approaching or actually happening.

Mindfulness involves:

  • focusing your attention on the present
  • recognizing the emotional state, you’re in
  • meditating to reduce stress and help you relax.

The mental health expert shared, “Worrying or experiencing anxiety at work is a mental health condition you have no control over. It is natural for you to get overwhelmed with something that might bother you, and opening up about it and not hiding it is one of the best ways to deal with it. While the self-helping strategy can be effective, it can be challenging to break away from your thoughts and anxiety altogether alone. Suppose you are experiencing severe anxiety attacks at work or impacting your ability to work or carry out your daily task. In that case, seeking mental health professionals for help is best.”

Sumit Bhasin, Vice President - Human Resources att EyeQ Super Speciality Eye Hospitals, asserted, “In modern workplaces, it’s essential to acknowledge that some individuals may grapple with anxiety attacks and feelings of suffocation. To safeguard the well-being of employees, creating a setting that promotes open dialogue becomes crucial. This environment encourages individuals to be at ease while expressing their concerns, with an assurance of keeping them confidential, leading to a deeper comprehension of their challenges and needs. Taking pre-emptive actions is equally essential. The introduction of wellness initiatives, mental health support resources, and stress-management seminars can equip employees with effective coping strategies and prevent catastrophe.”

He advised, “Educating managers and co-workers about identifying signs of distress and responding empathetically contributes to a culture of caring. Granting flexibility in work arrangements can prove to be invaluable for those dealing with such issues. Offering possibilities like remote work, adaptable hours, or breaks as needed can help ease off stress and provide individuals with an opportunity to regain their composure. It is crucial to remember that each person’s experience is unique. What holds significance is the commitment towards cultivating an inclusive, caring and understanding environment that not only acknowledges the challenges faced by some but actively works toward relieving them. By embracing this approach, organizations can enhance the well-being of their team members while fostering a more resilient and cohesive workforce.”

Given that it is not uncommon for individuals to experience moments of unease and discomfort in the dynamic environment of modern workplaces, Praveen Tiwari, Co-Founder of Netsol Water, said, “For some, these moments manifest as feelings of uneasiness and breathlessness, impacting their overall well-being. In such situations, consider introducing mindful moments into the workplace routine. Create a designated space where individuals can retreat for a few minutes of calmness when they feel overwhelmed. This could involve a quiet room for breathing exercises, short meditation sessions, or even a calming sensory corner with soothing visuals and textures. Additionally, ensure that the physical workspace is designed to be ergonomic and comfortable.”

He concluded, “Ergonomic furniture, proper lighting, and measures to reduce noise can contribute to a more conducive work environment. Likewise, conduct anonymous surveys to gauge employees’ well-being and gather feedback on workplace practices. Use the results to refine HR strategies. Moreover, deliberate on the effectiveness of implementing a buddy system. Pairing up employees to check in on each other, share thoughts, and provide mutual support can create a network of trust and camaraderie. This approach ensures that everyone has a reliable ally during challenging times. Importantly, recognizing and appreciating employees’ efforts and achievements not only makes them feel valued but also boosts morale and reduces feelings of suffocation.”

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