It’s perfectly human to feel anxious in demanding or uncomfortable situations, but it’s important to have some tools to help you stay calm when they do happen. And for people with anxiety disorders, it takes effort to stay calm in pretty much any type of situation. So here’s how to regain control and center yourself in stressful situations when you can’t even do that in relaxing situations.
Take deep breaths.
Running late for a job interview because of a train delay? There’s nothing you can do to make that train come faster, so focus instead on what you can control, which is your own reaction to the situation. Inhale and exhale. You are present in this moment, just like you’re present when you’re lying in bed at night, not running late to anything, and have nothing to do but rest your weary head on your little pillow, yet you’re still freaking the fuck out. Maybe if you can breathe through running late you can also breathe through laying vertically on a soft surface in the dark.
Remind yourself that everything will be okay.
In a stressful situation, it’s easy to feel like it’s the end of the world, but remember that you are going to get through whatever lies ahead, and once you do, everything will be fine. If you’re dealing with a breakup from a partner, know that regardless of the intensity of emotion you currently feel, this is not a catastrophe. You will be okay. If you’re hanging out with a group of friends who all love you and you’re watching a movie and laughing when suddenly you’re overwhelmed by a sense of dread and panic, then everything actually will be okay but we really can’t help you.
Ground yourself in your senses.
It’s important to feel in your body when you’re distressed. Whether you’re on a plane experiencing turbulence or about to publicly speak, get out of your head and into the moment by identifying things you can feel, see, smell, touch. But if you had a panic attack the one time you got a massage because you felt claustrophobic not being able to leave the table, overwhelmed by the scent of essential oils in the room, and for some reason guilty that the masseuse was touching you, then…good luck.
Use these tips to remain calm in times of stress even though you can’t remain calm in times of complete relaxation! Or freak out during times of stress and just be grateful that you at least have a reason.