Keep Calm: 5 Tips for Preventing Panic  cover

Keep Calm: 5 Tips for Preventing Panic

By


Even if you don't have anxiety on a regular basis, you've probably experienced panic at some point in your life -- those moments when your heart is pounding and your mind is racing with ideas (some completely irrational) about what's happening.





NoteStream NoteStream

NoteStreams are readable online but they’re even better in the free App!

The NoteStream™ app is for learning about things that interest you: from music to history, to classic literature or cocktails. NoteStreams are truly easy to read on your smartphone—so you can learn more about the world around you and start a fresh conversation.

For a list of all authors on NoteStream, click here.




Read the NoteStream below, or download the app and read it on the go!

Save to App


Keep Calm: 5 Tips for Preventing Panic

Don’t Panic

As you may have read in previous posts, anxiety is something I struggle with from time to time.

Sometimes it's not so bad -- just a bit of a tickling annoyance at the back of my mind -- and other times it's drive-me-mad frustrating, keeping me from doing things I want to do and preventing me from living the positive, present life I spend so much time writing about. There are a lot of unpleasant aspects of anxiety, but one of the worst parts is feeling panicky.

Familiar Feeling

Image by Positively Present

Familiar Feeling

Even if you don't have anxiety on a regular basis, you've probably experienced panic at some point in your life -- those moments when your heart is pounding and your mind is racing with ideas (some completely irrational) about what's happening.

Never a Good Idea

It's not a pleasant experience and, even if there's something legitimate to feel panicked about, panicking never helps make a situation better.

It only heightens anxious feelings and makes it more difficult to take positive, productive action.

Once panicky feelings start, however, they can be tough to get control over, which is why it's important to try your best prevent the panic before it begins. Of course, sometimes this isn't possible, like if you're sudden, dangerous, actually-life-threatening situation. But, more often than not, things we panic about are a result of the way we're seeing a situation, and don't necessarily reflect what's actually happening.

Learning to Cope

Because April 5 is the second annual International Day of Calm, I wanted to spend some time reflecting on how to keep calm on a regular basis.

This way, if you are presented with a situation that makes you feel panicky, you'll be better equipped to cope with it. Here are five of my best tips for preventing panic...

Tips To Stay Calm

Tips To Stay Calm

©Shutterstock

Try to Find Calm Daily

We usually hear the phrases "keep calm" or "calm down" only when there's already an anxiety-inducing situation right in front of us, but if you want to reduce panicky feelings in the future, it helps to practice calm on a daily basis.

Creating calming routines for yourself (especially at the beginning and end of your day) can be really helpful. Also, taking advantage of calming resources: books like Calm or Stay Positive and apps like Calm are great places to start. Anything you can incorporate into your life on a daily basis to make you feel more peaceful will help add to your state of calm whenever you feel panicky.

Recognize Your Reactions

When it comes to preventing full-blown panic, one essential step is to recognize how you're reacting to a situation so you can understand (and rein in) your emotions before they get to an irrational place.

One of the best ways to do this is to pay close attention to your body. Is your heart beating faster? Are your palms sweaty? Are your muscles tensing? Is your breath coming more quickly? When you're aware of what's happening to you physically, you can put yourself in a better mindset to avoid panic. You can remove yourself from a situation or ask someone else to talk you through what you're experiencing.

What’s Going On?

©Shutterstock

What’s Going On?

One of the most vital steps for preventing panic is to ask yourself, What's actually happening?

Center Yourself in Reality

So much of panic is a result of what we think is going to happen, not what's factually right in front of us.

For example, let's say you're going through a breakup. It's common to start in with panicky thoughts like, I'm going to be alone forever. Oh god, no one is going to date me now. I'm never going to find love again. Those thoughts are all based on the future -- and a very dismal future at that. In the present moment, the only thing that's happening is you're suffering from heartbreak, which you will recover from. Bring your focus to the present and it becomes much more difficult to launch into panic mode.

Accept What’s Happening

Part of panicking is detaching yourself from reality, allowing your mind to spiral into a maze of irrational thoughts.

As unsettling as these thoughts are (usually of the all-or-nothing variety, like, Everything is ruined! No one will ever want me! Nothing will ever be the same!), we often use the panicky thoughts to distract ourselves from the real pain right in front of us: the heartache, the loss, the realization that we've done something wrong.

It's hard to do, but acceptance of the actual situation is key for redirecting panic into a more productive outlet. Yes, you might have lost your job, but thinking, no one will ever hire me now is certainly not going to get you a new one.

What will is accepting the loss and striving to move positively forward by taking action in the present (going to a job fair, applying for new jobs online, etc.).

Find a Self-Soothing Technique

Acceptance is hard, but once you do that, you're in a much better place to prevent panic.

Still, it can creep up on you sometimes, like a stealthy little snake in the grass, and when that happens, it's a good idea to have a self-soothing technique that helps to take your mind to a calmer place. Your self-soothing technique can be anything from taking a few deep breaths to using a mantra (like "keep calm" or, my personal favorite, "you're okay") to calling up a calming friend for a quick chat.

Find Your Clam

©Shutterstock

Find Your Clam

Whatever your calming weapon of choice, make sure it's something you can always have in your holster -- an easily accessible tool that you can whip out whenever you might feel a bit panic-stricken.