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Anxiety and Stress This forum is for seeking advice on anxiety and stress related issues.

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Everglow. Offline
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Managing sudden anxiety - March 21st 2021, 11:12 PM

As of late my anxiety has been very up and down due to a number of things going on in my life. I'm usually quite good at managing it and it's not something I'm ever shy about talking about with people, but I had an experience the other day which I feel like I could use some advice on.

How do people deal with sudden onset anxiety/panic/dissociation when there's no opportunity to escape the situation? For example, I work in customer service, and sometimes it's not possible to stop serving a customer, and the work I do requires me to be able to think and concentrate on what I am doing or what they are saying to me. In these situations, how can I manage sudden anxiety or panic without drawing attention to myself? The goal is to be able to manage until I'm at a point where I can leave and calm down again.

Thank you for any suggestions.

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Re: Managing sudden anxiety - March 22nd 2021, 04:31 PM

In today's world it's so difficult to relax. We're always finding ourselves jumping from one situation to another or being unable to have 5 minutes to ourselves just to recharge. Sometimes when I'm working at the gym for 10 hours a day, I'm constantly bombarded with people and during a small break I head to the staff room and take 5 minutes. But for people like yourself this isn't always possible. One thing I can suggest is that you look into cued relaxation. In fact, the NHS has a very good PDF on Relaxation and additional information on cued relaxation can be found at the end of page 6. You can find the article here.

In short, cued relaxation is the use of an object or the activation of one of our senses to remind us to relax. For example, you're in the middle of serving a customer when somebody else starts cutting the queue asking you about refunds, suddenly you start feeling anxious, maybe a bit overwhelmed by everything going on... you then look at the # button on your till and you scrunch your toes as hard as you can for a few seconds and let them go. Viewing the # is your reminder to relax, you then use whatever relaxation technique you feel may help in that situation (besides the obvious of dashing off to the staff room and taking a thousand breaths).

There's a lot of different ways to relax whilst behind the counter, but the toe scrunching one is quite discreet. Others can include pushing one of your feet into the floor as hard as you can for a moment, and then letting the muscles relax. Or breathing in heavily and holding your breath for a few seconds before letting it all out. Ultimately it's up to you how you do it, but having a sort of cue, or reminder, to relax, is a great way to help when you're stuck in a position where you can't just walk off.

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