One of the easiest ways to stop yourself from panicking is to get your mind onto something else.
This is usually easier said than done, because it requires you to find something more interesting to you than the fact that you are terrified and feeling like your world is about to implode upon itself. And that can be a tall order. The usual things like scrolling through your Instagram or watching your favorite YouTube video or TV show don’t always have the power to pull your attention away from your fear.
If you are struggling with calming yourself down, I recommend pulling out the box of photographs in your closet, or going through old scrapbooks to trigger positive memories and sentimentality. Provided you have no history of trauma in your past, directly looking at old photographs and recalling memories from your past can pull your attention to a happier place and decrease the activity in parts of your brain that trigger adrenaline, and increase activity in calmer parts of your brain.
Most people tend to have a very strong interest in their past and love going down memory lane. A box or book full of cards, photos, and other memories can be just the bait our minds need to lure us away from thoughts and feelings of fear.
In addition, according to PsychologyToday, thinking of old memories, especially if they are happy memories, takes the high activity in your brain away from the amygdala, which is where fear originates, and sends it to the hippocampus. The hippocampus then triggers responses from various other parts of the brain that work as a group to put your old memories together, resulting in them playing out in your mind like a old movie.
If you look closely at each old photograph or scrapbook page, and put a strong focus on remembering the sights, sounds and smells around you at the time, it would be really hard to maintain an intense level of fear due to your brain being so occupied with other things. In addition, recalling happy memories can you give you such a pleasant sense of nostalgia that it can activate your para-sympathetic nervous system (PNS) which basically puts a big cuddly blanket over our adrenaline-releasing sympathetic nervous system (SNS) , so we start feeling less anxious and less out of control.
So if you are feeling keyed up or in need of a distraction from the urge to panic, put on your comfy clothes, get a cup of tea, cozy up with your past and lose yourself for a while.
I love this idea Anna Lisa – not something I’d thought of. But I do know how looking back at old photos of me and my two not-so-little-now boys, remembering happy days out at the beach, the park, the pool and visits to family.
I do use visualisation using all the senses, I’d just never thought of using photos. Great idea and thank you. Caz