Shhh. Close your eyes. Take some deep breaths.
(In through your nose) 1...2...3...4...5...
(Out though your mouth) 1...2...3...4...5...6...7...8...9...10... 1...2...3...4...5...
Think about your breathing. You remember hearing the trick is making the exhale longer. If you can’t control your surroundings, you will control yourself.
Feel your heart thrum in time with your head. It is slowing. You time your breathing to its beats and you know you are alive. That is what matters right now.
You yawn. This is your lungs telling you to breathe in more oxygen. Lengthen your intake by a second or two.
Don’t open your eyes quite yet. You still cannot control the world around you, and there is something you must do first.
You picture yourself somewhere nice and calming. It is your bed, or the beach, or your grandmother’s tea parlor, or a city street. It is the somewhere you love most. It is where you hide, and therefore where you will find yourself. You must be alone for this, at least in your head.
The plush cushion, the soft sands, the damp grass, the sun-warmed water, the concrete curb welcome you. All the air you will ever need surrounds you, and you smell it: brewing coffee? Freshly-baked cookies? Your great-aunt’s perfume, or maybe the sweet smell of falling leaves? The other you, the scared, anxious you, smells it too. They are an alarmed animal now, so you make yourself smaller, crouching, tucking, sitting, and holding your hand out. You do not expect them to reach for it, but it beckons them closer, if only by inches.
“What is it?” you ask yourself, the scared self, who cowers behind you, from you, within you. You open your eyes.
“Do you see?” they ask.
Do not get angry, or frustrated. This is yourself, here, and you must be patient with yourself above all else.
Pay close attention. “Is it the people? Are they too close? Do we need to find someone? Or the lights? Too bright, or too dim? What are you hearing?” you ask yourself, and as you look around, you begin to understand. “Hey, it’s all right.”
You both start to unfold, and in doing so, become one person again. “It is all okay. Why am I anxious about this? What can I do about the situation?”
Keep breathing. Remember to talk to yourself, check in with every piece of you. Treat yourself delicately. Take care of yourself. It is the only way to survive.