How to Press Pause on Panic

woman scratching head looking at laptop sitting in quiet room
by Helena Popovic


When I was a medical student, the first thing we were taught to do in an emergency was to take our own pulse, NOT the patient’s. 


To calm ourselves down so that we could think rationally. 

How does this work? Taking your own pulse grounds you. It brings your focus to the here and now and engages the thinking part of your brain – rather than the emotional part of your brain – because you’re counting. And after about 20 heart beats, take a slow, deep breath. Pay particular attention to slowing down your out-breath because a slow out-breath slows our heart rate, lowers our blood pressure and gives us time to consider a sensible course of action. 

The next step in making good decisions under stress is to ask yourself three critical questions. 

Click here to listen to my conversation with ABC radio presenter Julie Clift about how we can press the pause button on panic and spread calm rather than calamity. 


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