Dr. Goali, Psychologist, Author, Millennial Expert
Dr. Goali, Psychologist, Author, Millennial Expert

Hitting the Panic Button

Hitting the Panic Button

The next time you find yourself in need of a panic button, look no further!

Don’t go to the cupboard and take out the shot glasses, or open up any hookup apps that can lead to headaches and regret later on. Instead, you can get yourself into a place of wise mind through a skill known as “Wise Mind ACCEPTS.” As any millennial in a state of panic knows, meditation and slowing down may not always be the magic trick you need. You want to forget your worries and find a way out of your latest conundrum. You want a little reprieve, a sense of peace, and an intuitive sense that everything will be alright. The ACCEPTS acronym can help you do all of that and more.

The next time you are in a state of distress, instead of trying to escape it or numb out in an unhealthy way, use Wise Mind ACCEPTS to not only find a sense of acceptance of the situation, but to allow yourself to become more grounded and mindful in the present moment in a way that won’t make you want to run away. Download the Worksheet to find an example provided for each letter of the acronym, along with a space for you to fill in an example from your own life to help you start practicing this key skill.

Activities

Distract yourself from difficult emotions by participating in hobbies, exercising, creating art, or listening to music.

Contributions

Take your mind off your own worries and concerns by turning your focus and attention to the ways you can help someone else or a cause. For example, you might volunteer for an organization or pet sit for a neighbor.

Comparisons

While social media encourages plenty of unhealthy comparisons, it is sometimes beneficial to compare yourself to people who are coping with difficult emotions as well. Maybe you have a good friend, a trusted older sibling, or a cousin who has experienced similar challenges as you and is coping in positive ways. Comparing your situations and how you can integrate healthy coping tools can help you feel better.

Emotions

Trying to evoke the opposite emotion of what you are currently feeling can sometimes help you snap out of a funk. Although you do not want to minimize true depressive or anxious feelings, sometimes you might just be feeling blue for no reason at all. Watch a quick, funny YouTube clip you love (being mindful to not numb out on a screen for an extended period of time), turn on upbeat music and dance, or do some cardio to get the endorphins pumping.

Pushing away

Mentally, you might be able to push away unwanted thoughts through a meditation practice where you focus on your breath, say a mantra to yourself, or simply count from one to ten over and over again. When you notice thoughts come up, you might imagine them floating away like clouds in the sky or leaves floating down a river.

Thoughts

Distract your mind through activities that require you to think, whether it is reading, doing a puzzle, solving math problems, or memorizing lines from a favorite song.

Sensations

Tuning into your senses can help you if you are tempted to engage in unhealthy coping behaviors. Try holding ice in your hand, taking a warm bath, or smelling a pleasant lotion or essential oil.

Hitting the Panic Button: Part 2

To continue practicing and integrating the principles of mindfulness into your daily life, you can further extend the ACCEPTS model by focusing in on the final step of the acronym: Sensations. Many millennials find that using their five senses can help ground them when they feel overwhelmed and tempted to numb out. The examples that follow suggest how each of the five senses can promote a greater sense of mindfulness and peace.

Sight

One of the most commonly practiced forms of meditation is a candle meditation. It involves focusing on the flame, breathing deeply and calmly, and mindfully observing the flickering movement. Other examples of using sight include taking a mindful walk and just noticing each tree and leaf, and even individual blades of grass.

Smell

Perhaps the fastest sense to make an impact, our olfactory system is directly tied to our brains, which explains why our memories of smell are so powerful. Whether it is the smell of fresh cookies or newly cut grass, smell can be very instrumental in altering our mood.

Sound

Whether it is the mesmerizing sound of a piano or beats from your favorite band, sound can immediately transport us by making us feel understood and supported. In contrast to sad music, which can intensify an unhappy mood, upbeat music can have us uncontrollably tapping our feet.

Touch

Anyone who has stroked the soft fur of a beloved pet or other animal knows that feeling of warmth and the soft rise and fall of another living creature’s breath can instantly make us feel connected to a larger whole.

Taste

This sense has gotten many of us in trouble, as few things can be as comforting as a giant bowl of ice cream, chocolate, or freshly baked lemon bars. In moderation, though, taste can move us into a space of nourishing our bodies with healing foods.

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Additional Resources

Cognitive Distortions Explained

Download the Cognitive Distortions Worksheet It is common for everyone to engage in distorted thinking patterns from time to time. These patterns of thinking are sometimes referred to as thinking traps or cognitive distortions. [read more]

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