“There is no panic you can’t allay, no problem you can’t solve.” – Lauren Weisberger
Work can sometimes be stressful. This work stress, piled on top of any other daily stressors, can sometimes become overwhelming. Even when we think we have our whole lives under control, the stress can get too big for us to handle. That is when panic starts to set it. Panic is the brain’s fight-or-flight response to overwhelming stimuli.
It’s a primal part of the brain, and it’s used to help us know when something life-threatening is happening. Unfortunately, panic doesn’t discriminate between real and imagined danger. Work can be one of the worst places to experience a panic response. Oftentimes, when you’re in the office, there is an understanding that you’re to leave your outside life at the door. This can’t always happen, and is rarely the case for many people.
Panic can happen to both employees and leaders. It can be a physical response to stimuli, or it can be an emotional response to a problem that arises. Panic manifests itself in different ways, and it’s important to understand where it stems from so that it can be best combated. Why do people panic and what can be done to prevent it?
5 REASONS WHY PEOPLE PANIC AND HOW TO AVOID THEM
1. FEAR OF FAILURE
Nobody likes failure, especially in a work environment. Doing well at work means you get to keep your job. Doing poorly can mean losing it. Losing your job can mean losing your livelihood and your lifestyle. It’s an incredibly valid fear, and one that, once ignited, can cause workers to panic. Instead of focusing on all the ways something can fail or go wrong, focus on the positive outcomes. Be confident in your abilities. You didn’t get to your position by happenstance! Remind yourself of all the things you’re capable of.
2. OVERWHELMING WORK
Sometimes, work hands us more than we can handle. When you have three deadlines to meet and you’ve just been handed three more, the workload can be more than you can handle. This doesn’t reflect poorly on you. People work at different paces, and sometimes the people delegating the work don’t have a good enough grasp of how much things take to get done. When stress becomes overwhelming, it can cause a panic response. An easy way to alleviate the panic of overwhelming work is to communicate with your leadership team, and see if deadlines can be extended or work can be delegated.
3. OUTSIDE STRESS
Bringing your problems with you to the office can’t always be avoided. Oftentimes, when stress at home hits hard, it can be difficult to leave that at the door when you go to work. If there is an overwhelming amount of stress at home, it will carry over into the stressors at work, which can result in panic. Finding someone to talk to can help make sure your outside or internal stress isn’t brought into the workplace to make your job harder. A friend, family member, or therapist can help manage your personal and professional stress.
4. FINANCIAL DECLINE
Leadership can experience panic, too. Unexpected financial decline can cause an immediate panic mode. When leadership panics, it can manifest much differently than when someone is not in a leadership position. After all, there’s much more at stake for someone in a leadership role. When a company experiences financial decline, it can put more stress and expectation on leaders and managers. To prevent panic responses, finding the cause of the issue can make the next steps that should be taken crystal clear.
5. ASSOCIATING CERTAIN ACTIONS WITH BAD OUTCOMES
This can happen in our day-to-day lives, and it can also happen in our work environments as well. If a new process was implemented and it caused an unfavorable outcome, it can be easy to associate that process itself with the bad outcome, rather than the actions that lead to the bad outcome in the first place. Perhaps the process wasn’t properly implemented, or there weren’t enough steps taken to make it a success. Figure out what the issue was, and work to fix it rather than assume what the problem was.
4 WAYS TO PREVENT AND DEAL WITH PANIC RESPONSES
1. LOOK AT THE BIGGER PICTURE
Whether you’re in a leadership role or you’re an employee who is overwhelmed with work, taking a step back and looking at the bigger picture can help minimize a panic response. Whether the reason is a fear of failure or a decline in numbers, taking a moment to pause and consider the whole situation can help make your next course of action logical, rather than made in a panicked state.
2. EVERYTHING IS TEMPORARY
If you are experiencing the physical symptoms of a panic attack – tight chest, dizziness, trouble breathing, racing heart – there are things you can do to alleviate the feeling. First, know that it will pass and that you’re not going to die. Even though it may feel life-threatening, panic attacks tend to last for only a few minutes before they’re over. Find a quiet place where you can focus on breathing and getting yourself to calm down.
3. BE A GOOD LEADER
If you are a leader and one of your employees is experiencing the beginnings of panic symptoms, or you suspect that they may be on the verge of a panic response, allow them to go somewhere to calm themselves down. Panic attacks can often be alleviated by simply removing the person from the situation that is causing the panic. Be understanding and sympathetic. Panic responses are involuntary.
4. FIND THE ROOT CAUSE OF THE ISSUE
When panic rears its ugly head, it can be tempting to just deal with the symptoms and move on. The best way to prevent panic is to find the cause and deal with it directly. This is true for both internal stress, as well as situations at work that can cause a company panic, such as dropping numbers or lost clients. Once you are able to identify the reason, it will be easier to rectify, which means your brain will no longer panic when an unforeseeable circumstance happens.
Panic in the workplace can be prevented, for both leaders and employees. Recognizing the signs and reasons to why panic happens in the first place is a major step in the right direction to minimizing the panic that all employees feel. Minimizing a panic response helps both the company and the employees, by helping the company run more logically and efficiently without rash decisions made in panic, as well as giving workers a more stress-free environment.