Panic causes tunnel vision. Calm acceptance of danger allows us to more
easily assess the situation and see the options. – – Simon Sinek
One of the practices that has served me well personally in recent years is meditation. Discussing meditation and practicing it has become more mainstream, but can still conjure up images of Buddhist monks with their shaved heads and brightly colored robes.
One of the simplest ways to meditate is to focus on your breath and try to not think of anything. Let your body and mind just be for a period of time. For me personally, when I have a thought entering my brain, I imagine it being enveloped in a bubble and then floating away to be considered at a later time.
Like many other things, the practice part of this comes from the fact that if your mind is like mine, it just doesn’t stop…ever. But every day I set aside 30 minutes to wage war with my mind and try and calm it by focusing on each breath and feeling it fill my lungs and body before slowly being exhaled again. I try and sense the feeling of my feet touching the floor, my hands touching the arms of the chair or my thighs and I usually let my eyes gently close or gaze off in the distance.
What I never realized when I started doing this is that the benefits from meditation are realized not while you’re meditating, but in other situations when you need to recall your calmer self. Our lives are full of stress from our daily commute, our day jobs, our family life and our own personal challenges. When we layer animal rescue activities on top of that, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and to feel a sense of anxiety or panic trying to get everything done.
Most people realize that when you’re panicked, your body is in fight or flight mode and it narrows your vision and shuts down the advanced reasoning in your brain. Your body has honed this type of reaction from thousands of years of evolution and you cannot just shut it down easily, especially if you’re not even aware that it is happening. When you’re panicked while you’re trying to rescue animals though, you’re going to make mistakes potentially missing options that your otherwise rational self could have thought through and considered. It’s almost as though you will have the outcome that your panicked mind is predicting, a self-fulfilling prophesy of sorts.
Whether you opt to try something like meditation or not, when you feel your anxiety rising and your mind panicking in any given situation, try and slow down your breathing and focus your thoughts calmly on the situation. If your tension is due to animal rescue, remember that you did not create the situation the animal is in and while you are trying to guide the situation to a positive outcome you cannot always control everything.