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World Panic Day: My Guide to Staying Calm



‘Stand by,Stand by’- but don’t PANIC! This is LIFE or DEATH…


Crouched down alongside my colleagues, equipped with helmets, body armor, and weapons, we were set. My heart was racing, a flutter of nerves in my belly, adrenaline surging, and then the call came through my earpiece: 'prepare, prepare'...


The moment had arrived! Things were about to escalate!


An enormous explosion blasted the main doors off the building, its force staggering me and stealing my breath... We rose to our feet and entered the building, alert, weapons ready, scanning the shadowy corners for any hidden dangers...


Ascending the stairs and into a room that was 'secure', we regrouped at the next door…

I was the point man, heart thundering, sweat soaking my balaclava, hands clammy, mouth dry, breathing rapid...


I needed to get a grip before facing what might be a life-or-death scenario! Quickly, I began deep breathing exercises to recalibrate my mind and breath, easing my nerves. The last thing to do was panic, yet this wasn't new to me...


Signaling readiness to my teammate opposite, he checked the door, signaled back, and pushed it open—smoke and darkness awaited. A flashbang was tossed in, exploding with noise and light as I followed closely, weapon drawn, uncertain of what awaited... Yet again, another training exercise, a scenario we'd rehearsed repeatedly, always with different variables...but we were prepared!


Darkness enveloped us, 'prepare, prepare' echoed over the radio, an explosion tore through the outer gate, and we advanced—weapons at the ready—this time it was real...

Such scenarios were familiar throughout my service... The intensive training and pressure I'd undergone for 22 years were crucial in preparing me for the real-life stresses I'd encountered firsthand on multiple occasions. I knew how to manage my breathing, thanks to the techniques I'd learned and practiced. I understood my body's stress and anxiety responses and was acutely self-aware. I was a warrior, trained and drilled in knowing exactly what to do... But so what? You're not likely to enter a smoky building filled with terrorists and hostages... However, there are lessons here that apply to everyday life!


Our natural stress response triggers the 'fight, flight, freeze' reaction mentioned in that scenario, preparing our bodies for perceived threats and emergencies.


This doesn't just apply to combat situations… In the modern workplace, where the pace is relentless and expectations are high, anyone can find themselves grappling with anxiety and panic. As someone who transitioned from the disciplined world of military service to civilian employment, I've faced my share of challenges adapting to this new environment. Today, on World Panic Day, I want to share my insights into dealing with workplace anxiety, drawing from my own experiences and the strategies that have helped me keep calm under pressure.


Understanding My Battle with Workplace Anxiety

Workplace anxiety shows up in many ways; for me, it was a constant worry about living up to job expectations and feeling overwhelmed by daily tasks. The reasons behind these feelings can be complex, ranging from long hours and high stress levels to a lack of support from leadership. Such anxiety can cripple one's performance and deter them from pursuing opportunities for fear of failure or increased exposure.


From Military to Civilian: A Different Kind of Pressure

The military instilled in me a high tolerance for stress and a deep sense of discipline. However, transitioning to a civilian job presented a different set of challenges, notably the absence of the structured support and camaraderie I was accustomed to. This shift made me more aware of how work-induced anxiety could affect those of us who've served, as we navigate unfamiliar roles and expectations.


My Go-To Strategy: Tactical Breathing

One of the most effective techniques I've found for managing anxiety and panic, both in and out of the workplace, is controlled breathing. Drawing from my military training, I often rely on tactical breathing to stay centered. This method, also known as box breathing, involves a simple yet powerful routine:


  1. Inhale deeply through your nose, counting slowly to four, feeling my chest expand with air.

  2. Hold that breath for another count of four.

  3. Exhale gradually through my mouth for four counts, releasing all the tension with the air.

  4. Pause for four counts before starting the cycle again.


I repeat this process until the wave of anxiety subsides.



Applying Military Discipline to Overcome Workplace Challenges

My time in the military taught me to confront high-pressure situations with calmness and resolution. I apply this same mindset to the civilian workplace, recognising early signs of anxiety and tackling them head-on with tactical breathing. This approach, coupled with maintaining regular physical activity, seeking support when needed, and striving for a healthy work-life balance, forms the cornerstone of my strategy for managing workplace anxiety.


Conclusion

Being aware of these impacts and managing them is essential. Employing coping mechanisms like the breathwork techniques I've mentioned, alongside progressive training and education in these areas, can be crucial.

I'm highly trained and knowledgeable in these matters, having applied them in numerous high-threat and hostile situations. So, what does this mean for you? While I may not be a professor, my extensive training, qualifications, and firsthand experience mean I truly understand these concepts... If you're seeking assistance with managing stress, anxiety, enhancing performance, tackling problems, and more, I'm here to offer my professional services.


Stay strong and remember to breathe 💪


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