It’s Time to Panic

Now that I have your attention, it is NOT time to panic in the wake of the now official COVID-19 Pandemic.

Personally, I am witnessing the goofiness of the panic locally. I deftly slipped a shopping cart between two women exchanging punches at Costco over the last package of toilet paper. My case of hand sanitizer came thanks to UPS with the box broken open, all 24 containers stolen, and the smashed box taped back together. For the life of me, how the delivery driver decided to leave the empty smashed box on my porch is beyond me. And, to my amazement, a good deal of the phone calls I have been getting are from clients panic-stricken over the lack of authoritative control. While its challenging, especially for the empaths, to be around all that fear and anxiety laced energy, you can be the calm waters in the swirl of the panic storm. Here are 7 things you can do to stay calm in the swirling waters of a panic storm.

1. Breathe
Breathing is the number one and most effective technique for reducing anger and anxiety quickly. When you’re anxious or angry, you tend to take quick, shallow breaths. This sends a message to your brain, causing a positive feedback loop reinforcing your fight-or-flight response. That’s why taking long, deep calming breaths disrupts that loop and helps you calm down. There are various breathing techniques to help you calm down. One is three-part breathing, and another is four-part breathing. These require you to take one deep breath in and then exhale fully while paying attention to your body, in groups of 3 or 4 breaths.

2. Admit you’re anxious or angry
Allow yourself to say that you’re anxious or angry. When you label how you’re feeling and allow yourself to express it, the anxiety and anger you’re experiencing may decrease.

3. Challenge your thoughts
Part of being anxious or angry is having irrational thoughts that don’t necessarily make sense. Fear based panic thoughts are often the worse-case scenario. When you experience one of these thoughts, stop and ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is this likely to happen?
  • Is this a rational thought?
  • Has this ever happened to me before?
  • What’s the worst that can happen? Can I handle that?

4. Release the anxiety or anger
I like getting the emotional energy out with exercise. Go for a walk or run. Engaging in some physical activity releases serotonin to help you calm down and feel better. However, avoid physical activity that includes the expression of anger, such as punching walls or screaming.

5. Listen to music
The next time you feel your anxiety level cranking up, grab some headphones and tune in to your favorite music. Listening to music can have a very calming effect on your body and mind.

6. Drop your shoulders
If your body is tense, there’s a good chance your posture will suffer. Sit up tall, take a deep breath, and drop your shoulders. To do this, you can focus on bringing your shoulder blades together and then down. This pulls your shoulders down. Take a few deep breaths. You can do this several times a day.

7. Get a centering object
When you’re anxious or angry, so much of your energy is being spent on irrational thoughts. When you’re calm, find a centering object such as a small stuffed animal, a polished rock you keep in your pocket, or a locket you wear around your neck.

Tell yourself that you’re going to touch this object when you’re experiencing anxiety or frustration. This centers you and helps calm your thoughts. For example, if you’re at work and your boss is making you anxious, gently rub the locket around your neck.