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7 Ways to Calm Down When You're Freaking Out

7 Ways to Calm Down When You're Freaking Out

By Janet Manley

Ohmygodohmygodohmygodohmygod! Stuff! Happening! Brain. Freaking out. ARE YOU ON FIRE??? Sparklers: sometimes things don't go as planned. Sometimes you start out the day well, then get to school and realize you forgot to wear a bra. Sometimes you headbutt a lightpole while you're walkin' and textin'. Sometimes you fall out of a grape bucket and wind yourself, through no fault of your own. The key is learning how to deal with everyday craziness. As seasoned nutcases, we have all the techniques covered:

Catastrophize. Wait, I know this sounds like a bad idea, but when when you're wigging out about something, it can be handy to think about ways it could be worse, like the absolute end-point of possible awfulness. If you're short on imagination, simply relocate the current situation to a high mountain peak, giving yourself only an ice axe and single Clif bar to survive, and you get a sense of, "Hey, at least I'm not a marooned mountaineer, peeing into a canvas sack on a tiny ledge in Italy while I cut off my arm and await a rescue team." Then you can step back and bask in the only casual disasteryness of your current predicament.

Make an action plan. The best response you can have to a less-than-ideal situation is to do something about it. Ask yourself, how can I change this scene? If it's a relationship issue, do you need to improve your communication skills? If it's a generation clash on rules with your parents, is there a compromise you can make? If one of your friends is in need of help, is there somewhere you can educate yourself on their needs? If you feel plain fried, are there ways you can change your daily routine (or get into a daily routine) that gives you time to de-stress? If you're freaking out about a bad grade, can you speak with the teacher to get a better sense of what is required of the next project/in the course? Note: If your first thought is "I could get a whole new haircut," then cross it out and start again, Gwyneth. Understand that there are things you can change, things you can't change and must learn to accept, and things that getting a drastic haircut will not fix.

Go for a run. There are three things about jogging (or "yogging") that help in a moment of crisis. First, running is wildly popular as a non-contact form of air boxing, so you can let off steam, without the need for a punching bag or burst knuckles or mullet. Second, running will sap your energy, leaving you little reserves for general angry pantsness. Third, it releases endorphins, which boost your mood—mood-boosters on tap, baby! It's like pumping water from a well! You just have to, uh, pump first.

Ask for help. A preamble: do not ask the Internet if this is something health-related, unless you want to catch a wild case of the hypochondrias. Other places to look for advice are: your parents, your doctor, your teacher, your RA, an old friend, your older brother or sister, your coach, your hairdresser, your pet, the Moon, a Taylor Swift song, the Harry Potter books, Auntie SparkNotes, or that annoying person who greets you every time you step inside American Eagle.

Do yoga. In a bubble bath. While listening to whale music. Wearing a chamomile onesie. While imagining yourself being rescued by Ryan Gosling. Okay, oatmeal scrub and cucumber eye-patches can only take you so far, but learning the art of the fluffy-bunner-slippered RELAX will take you far. Indulge in as many cliches as you please, as you set aside ME TIME to imagine an alternate, calming life where you and your bow hunt rabbits happily in the forest, and no one ever goes hungry.

Do jazz dance to a saxophone solo. Sometimes there's nothing you can do, and nothing to be gained by whining about something. In this case, your best bet is to slip your jazz hands out of their satin gloves, unbutton your vest, get yourself to an abandoned warehouse and let out the anger and frustration to Candy Dulpher or Clarence Clemons of The E Street Band.

Keep Calm and Carry On. Or keep calm and carry onions. Whatever works. Know that everyone has their bummer days, and their freakouts, and tomorrow will always be better. Plus, we love you!

How do you keep your pants on when the invisible flames of a freakout are upon?

Topics: Life, Back to School
Tags: annoying things, horrible things, stress, first day of school, panic, relaxing

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About the Author
Janet Manley

Janet is the offspring of a mid-sized kangaroo and a stately gum tree. She grew up under a hole in the ozone layer, which probably means she can survive in outer space. She tweets @janetmanley

Wanna contact a writer or editor? Email contribute@sparknotes.com.

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