“First aid kit” for anxiety and panic

Five effective tips for immediate action

Author: Saskia John

Category: Psychology, Fear

Issue: No. 97

We are all familiar with anxiety. Whether it’s existential fear, fear of loss, performance anxiety or fear of rejection, most people experience these or similar fears in their lives. In such situations, it’s good to know where the fears come from and to have the right tools and methods at hand to resolve them. In this article, Saskia John provides the reader with specific tips that can help precisely when you find yourself in an anxiety spiral.

A racing heart, shortness of breath, nausea: anxiety has many faces. More than twelve million people in Germany suffer from an anxiety disorder. Women are affected significantly more often than men. It is often crises and external conflicts that trigger our repressed fears. In addition, our present is characterized by uncertainty and complexity. This brings personal and collective existential fears to the surface, the origin of which we are often unaware of. As a result, life in the here and now has become exhausting and stressful for many people.

In my practice, I see many people struggling with their fears and worries – and sometimes being completely consumed by them.

This ranges from the fear of being alone or no longer having enough money or being socially relegated to a conversation with the boss, which can trigger panic. It is generally advisable to resolve the cause of the anxiety and not just “fight” the anxiety on the surface. It can be useful to seek professional help here.

What you can do specifically: five first aid measures

There are five specific things you can do in the short term if you find yourself in an anxiety spiral. They will help you to calm down and relax again.

1. stop thinking:

interrupt the carousel of thoughts and stabilize yourself. Anxiety always starts with thoughts. If your thoughts start to revolve around anxiety and you notice your heart racing or find it difficult to breathe, then consciously confront them. Say “stop” loudly and clearly. Then consciously redirect your thoughts to another topic – to something that is good for you, something that allows you to relax and take a deep breath. When your thoughts start to circle again, repeat the “stop” with even more determination and clarity. The conscious change of thought stabilizes you and prevents you from slipping further and further into the spiral of fear and panic.

2. reality check – how to bring yourself back to the present:

After you have interrupted your negative stream of thoughts, start to consciously perceive your surroundings. Look around the room you are in. Say your name out loud or quietly, how old you are and where you live. Name everything you see. For example, there is a picture of a tree on the wall, there is a reading lamp next to the bedside table and the curtains are dark blue.

In this way, you consciously perceive the reality around you. This is helpful when anxiety blocks out reality and signals a danger that, in the vast majority of cases, is not real but only exists in your head: in thoughts that relate to the past or future. By consciously perceiving your surroundings, you bring your consciousness back to the present and the energy back into your body. You come back down to earth.

3. ground yourself with the walking meditation:

stand upright and feel into your body. Focus your attention on your feet. Begin to feel the ground beneath your feet and the space between the sole of your foot and the ground. As soon as you are aware of this, start walking slowly. Continue to feel the ground under your feet as you walk mindfully. Feel the muscles in your body moving as you walk. Notice how your balance shifts with every millimeter. Walk consciously and very slowly, as if in slow motion. Feel your posture as you walk, feel how the ground gives you support, how it carries you, how it allows you to stand securely. You can find an example of this in the video “Walking mediation” on my YouTube channel.

4. Talking to fear:

a cushion as a symbol. If the fear continues to have a firm grip on you and you can no longer think clearly, take a cushion in your hand. The pillow represents your fear. You remember that you are an adult, look at the fear and talk to the pillow as if it were a small child. Why is that? Because fear usually makes us feel very small. You talk to your inner child, so to speak, and give it a hug. You can say to it: “I see and feel that you are very scared. I am here.” Repeat these simple sentences over and over again like a mantra. “I see your fear. I feel your fear. I am here.” The moment you turn your attention to your fear and come into emotional contact with it, it subsides and doesn’t derail any further. I have explained the process on my YouTube channel.

Combine this exercise with the thought stop, reality check and walking meditation as necessary.


If you don’t want to pick up the cushion, place it two to three meters in front of you on the floor or on a chair (or even further away, depending on how you feel). This creates more space between you and the anxiety and allows you to talk to the anxiety from a safe distance. Use the same calming phrases as above. If the fear is very strong, you can continue to walk. Walk consciously and slowly around the pillow and continue to talk as you would to an anxious child. You need to try out which of the two options is more helpful for you.

You can find out which is the fifth measure the author suggests, and what not to say to yourself under any circumstances, in the full article published in Tattva Viveka 97.

About the author:

Saskia John is a therapist and consciousness researcher specializing in trauma healing and inner child work. As an alternative practitioner and author, she has been supporting people on their personal path to healing and spiritual growth in her practice for more than 20 years. Her healing work is always about the three levels of body, mind and soul coming into harmony and speaking one language.

YouTube: Saskia John

This article was originally published on the German website: »Erste-Hilfe-Koffer« bei Angst und Panik

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