The art of remaining calm

Panic disrupts order. It creates fear and replaces logical thinking with clumsy gaffes. Humans are designed to fall into panic every now and then. It is partly due to biological nature. 

You may have heard the story about the man who fell frantic after realizing his invaluable glasses were lost. With only half his vision available, his temperature rose as he ran in circles in an attempt to find them. Fear set in when he realized that it would be impossible to have the frames replaced since they were passed down from three generations. As he rose his hands to rub his head in despair, he found the glasses resting on his head all along.

Panic episodes are natural occurrences and are an inevitable part of life. But they can be controlled. It is a skill that astronauts are trained on before they head into space, and it is taught to soldiers before they head to war. Keeping one’s composure has prevented deadly catastrophes and careless mistakes, and the good news is, it is not an innate quality. Anyone can learn. It takes practice, but once mastered, it will become one of the greatest life hacks you ever adopted.

So how do you learn? Well, you learn when you’re having a panic episode. My first test came when my friend Jaide and I were standing in the backyard of a friend’s home. Out of nowhere, three large, barking bulldogs ran towards us. We attempted to get inside the house, but the patio door was locked.

“Breathe, Zaina. Just breathe,” I said to myself. I already knew that an animal’s reaction to humans is based on what they sense from us. So I stood there, let my arms hang loose on my sides, took deep, silent breaths, and remained calm as I looked into the bulldogs’ eyes. Moments later, the dogs stopped barking. When the patio door finally opened, they stood in silence as we walked back inside.

The art of remaining calm is just that: an art – and a science, too. What is the first step in mastering it? Breathe.