What to do when you’re panicking

“When in danger or in doubt

Run in circles, scream and shout.”

Amusing, but not very helpful.

I get anxious a lot and sometimes panic. I expect you do too. If you’re starting to feel your heart beat faster, your fingers go numb and your breathing quicken – and your thoughts starting to spiral out of control, here’s how to calm yourself quickly.

1. Take some deep breaths

This will calm you down more quickly and effectively than anything else. If you’re breathing too quickly, not enough oxygen is getting to your brain. Slow down and breathe into your cupped hands if you can.

If you struggle to regulate your breathing (breathing more slowly and deeply), try to count. In for a count of 5, out for a count of 5.

2. Drink a glass of water

Your body can’t work properly when you’re dehydrated, and the act of drinking a glass of water will help centre you.

Cold water will provide a temporary distraction as well.

3. Do a 5-minute meditation

It may not always be practical, but a few minutes of meditation can help you calm down. YouTube has tons of meditations – you can choose one specifically for anxiety or you can choose an almost-silent one. These often have a bell or similar to remind you to re-focus on the present.

4. Remind yourself that this will pass

Yes, panicking feels terrible and it really can feel like the world is ending. But it’s not. And how you’re feeling now won’t last forever.

I know you have got what you need to ride this out, to find what you need to make it better and to get to a place where whatever is happening has passed.

Either what you’re worrying about won’t happen, or it will and you’ll cope. Because that’s what people have been doing for millions of years.

5. Grounding

This is my personal favourite and one you can teach to angry or worried children as well.

Find something you can:

  1. See
  2. Smell
  3. Hear
  4. Touch
  5. Taste

If you can’t find anything to meet any of those senses, you can imagine it. For example, what did your cat feel like when you stroked it this morning? What did your last meal taste like?

This is a really effective way of calming anxiety and you can do it instantly and anywhere.

Do you have any ways of coping with panic or anxiety attacks? Tell me.

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