This guest article from YourTango was written by Dr. Tina Tessina.
There is always something on TV to scare us. Hysterical articles in the media sell papers and attract eyeballs to websites, but usually exaggerate facts. If you listen without evaluating what you’re being told, it’s easy to become frightened. There’s a reason why I don’t usually waste time and energy on panic and drama.
I see the negative results of panic every day. People get upset, they’re afraid of emotional consequences and they overreact, which can actually create the consequences they fear.
Panic is an overreaction to a real (or even imagined) problem. Frightening yourself beyond the real need to deal with a problem puts your body into fight or flight mode as though your life were immediately threatened.
Emotional panic can create a shutdown of feelings, so you’re in a state of shock. You cannot think clearly, make good responses or decisions. In panic, we do not retain information, absorb what we hear or accurately assess the situation. Panic is the worst thing you can do in a real emergency, and if the situation is not dire, panic will make it worse.
Panic is a natural startle reaction that gets exaggerated and becomes prolonged. People often learn to panic because, in early childhood, panic can get us out of responsibilities. Freaking out, crying, throwing temper tantrums, or shutting down are all panic responses small children use which cause some competent adult to take over and become the hero.
This can be okay once in a while, but as this pattern repeats, it becomes rescuing and codependency. Panic creates drama, unnecessary and damaging exaggeration of the problem, which leads to dysfunctional responses and overblown family drama.
We admire people who don’t panic. Our new President is admired for being “no drama Obama” because he retains his ability to think clearly, take his time and make effective decisions even when the people around him are panicking. People who can stay calm usually come out OK, because they think clearly.
So, what do you do in a scary or upsetting situation? Teach yourself how not to panic, so you can think clearly and handle the problem effectively. Practice these techniques to teach yourself to stay calm when the situation is threatening or the people around you are obviously in a panic.
Resolve Your Anxiety Today
To learn to let go, you may find these few steps can help resolve your fear and anxiety.
1. Learn to recognize the signs of your own panic.
If you feel the telltale signs of panic, which include a racing or pounding heartbeat, flushing of the face or body and mental confusion, you are in a state of panic. If you are shouting, saying unreasonable things, or just saying whatever comes out of your mouth, without thinking about consequences, you are also in a state of panic.
2. Take some deep breaths.
Deep breathing will calm your body and burn off the adrenaline that’s been released in the panic. Slow down, count to ten and focus on thinking clearly and factually rather than reacting emotionally.
If you don’t understand how to do deep breathing, you can learn how to do a deep breathing exercise here.
3. Take responsibility to figure out what you’re afraid of.
Unless you’re in immediate, direct danger, what’s scaring or upsetting you is probably not as urgent as you think. Make a list of what you’re afraid of that help you move beyond free-floating anxiety and you will begin to think more clearly.
4. Check the facts.
Is what’s on the news really true? Do we have an epidemic, or only 11 confirmed cases in Calfornia? Does the source you’re listening to have something to gain by putting you in a panic? Are they trying to sell you something, get federal funding, or get elected? Are you reacting to someone else’s panic? Get some facts about whatever is frightening you. Is there a real, immediate threat or is it just wise to be cautious? Is your partner actually going to abandon you, or is he or she just angry about something?
5. Make a decision and take some action tackling each fear.
If it’s a health fear, perhaps better hygiene or a talk with your doctor will resolve it. If it’s a relationship fear, finding out what your partner is really thinking, instead of guessing, will probably make more sense.
Get a flu shot, go for relationship therapy or have a good talk with your partner or family member.
6. Sell yourself on a positive outcome.
Think of all the possible great outcomes of the changes you’re making. Consider what you will learn, and how much better your life and relationships will be without the panic.
With a calmer outlook, you’ll be able to make better decisions and create a more successful outcome. I wish you peace, within yourself, within your family, within the world.
More related content from YourTango:
- Anxious Parenting: Are You Guilty Of It?
- It’s Over! Dealing With The End Of A Relationship
- Relationship Anxiety: Fear Eyes Or Clear Eyes?
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From Psych Central's World of Psychology:
Video: A Real Sufferer Cherry-Picks the Best Anxiety Management Techniques | World of Psychology (7/28/2012)
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 8 Jul 2014
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.
Experts, Y. (2012). Anxious About Everything? 6 Ways to Cope with Anxiety. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 2, 2015, from http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2012/07/25/anxious-about-everything-6-ways-to-cope-with-anxiety/