“When I think about leaving him–his anger, the financial disaster, the friends–I just panic. I can’t breathe. I can’t think. I can’t function.” That sense of out-of-control panic can be one of the most devastating consequences for those going through a divorce. While they can generally get through their days, there come those moments when panic hits. Life stops. Everything shuts down.
There is help.
A simple five step routine reorients thinking, offers calm, and returns function. Just remember the senses.
Whenever the panic strikes–look around and name:
- Five things you can see
- Four things you can hear
- Three things you can touch
- Two things you can smell
- One thing you can taste
Panic comes as the body’s response to a tangible threat. Upon sensing a threat, the brain instinctively sends the majority of blood flow to the flight-or-fight center of the brain–and away from the rational thinking areas. In a flash–the brain floods muscles to either flee as fast as possible or to fight valiantly. The one goal is to defeat danger and live.
This perfect response to an attacking army or approaching tornado doesn’t help when the threat is more mental than physical. Yet, when the reality of the money shortage sets in or the child’s nightly cries inspire dread, the threat feels just as dangerous as the raging tiger. So, the brain defaults to panic. Individuals caught in this cycle need a way to short circuit the instinctive response.
Using the five senses to focus on the concrete reality around them forces the brain to re-calibrate. As the person concentrates on naming objects that can be touched or tasted, the blood returns to the reasoning portions of the brain. This grounding enables people to refocus and engage in the layered thought they need to address this kind of threat.
Less panic. More control. Better decisions.