Registered to Alec Deacon
Coping with negative feelings: Anxiety, Panic and Fear
These three powerful emotions — anxiety, panic and fear — are common during any disaster or crisis and act just like the pieces of a domino.
First, anxiety sets in. It’s like a dark premonition of what is bound to happen. If the premonition turns out to be true, panic is next to take over. It’s a normal state in case of emergency situation, but if you don’t control it, it can easily turn into fear. And more often than not, fear leads to deadly mistakes that endanger your life and your whole family,
So let’s take these negative emotions one by one and see what you can do to avoid the “domino syndrome”:
Anxiety is a universal human reaction, usually caused by major changes. Most people are resistant to change, as it threatens a habitat we’ve already grown accustomed to. It can also be translated into “fear of the unknown”.
Many people have troubles identifying the cause of their anxiety. This is the main difference between anxiety and fear. The latter is a stronger reaction to a specific, known cause. However, in times of disaster or crisis, causes of anxiety are usually obvious. But that’s not necessarily a good thing, as it can more easily turn into panic and then fear.
So what can you do to prevent panic from setting in? At the first sign of anxiety, take a moment to clearly identify the cause. After doing so, think of a way to eliminate the cause, step-by-step. Visualise yourself taking every step successfully. Then get to action and take every step of the way to eliminate the cause of your anxiety.
If your anxiety does turn to panic, however, you must work harder on reducing this overwhelming feeling. Otherwise, you might just end up endangering your life or your family’s because you acted out of sheer panic.
So when you feel panic taking over, the first thing to do is sit down (in a safe place) and breathe deeply for 10 seconds. Try not to think of anything, just clear your head, it will help you focus. Then remember the basic survival techniques you’ve read or heard of that can save your life in that specific situation (an earthquake, an attack, a riot etc).
Breathe deeply at all times, unless you’re under a chemical or biological attack or you might choke on smoke. Breathing deeply and rhythmically will keep you calm and help you focus on your mission: survival.
The difference between panic and fear lies in their intensity. Panic is a feeling that first takes control of your mind and then leads to a physical reaction. Fear is such a strong feeling that your mind immediately sends a stimuli to your body, forcing it to act irrationally.
This is not necessarily a bad thing. A lot of people were saved due to their instant reactions to danger. However, when it comes to an emergency situation you’ve never experienced before, your mind does not know how to react. So it usually forces your body either to run, or to freeze. And if you’re dealing with an earthquake, a flood or a terrorist attack, neither of these two will do you any good.
So what you can do is GET INFORMED! Read everything about the most common disasters in your area, but also about situations that may occur anywhere in the world: chemical and biological attacks, nuclear attacks and fallout or how to survive a violent mob and keep looters out of your home.
Every weekend, have an emergency drill with your family. One week, it can be for earthquakes, the next one for burglaries and so on. It may seem a bit crazy to your neighbors and even to some members of your family, but remember this: when a disaster does strike, you’ll be so familiar with these survival techniques, they’ll come naturally. And this means you can use fear to your advantage and save your family, while the ones who laughed at you will be making dangerous mistakes every 10 seconds.
I’ll get back with more tested techniques to prepare your mind for disasters and crises next week. Until then, you can work on controlling your emotions using the methods above. Stay safe!
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