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Ways to avoid panicking and being a source of calm in a crisis

To maintain your composure in a crisis, you must calm your physiological and emotional responses as best as possible.

GREENSBORO, N.C. — The FAA is investigating a near-collision between a plane getting ready for take-off and an aircraft crossing a taxiway at JFK airport in New York this past Friday night.

A passenger, Brian Heale, on one of the planes, said that when the plane stopped forcefully, he thought it was because of a mechanical issue. He didn't realize what had almost happened until he looked at his social media the next day. He said, "The pilot made the call to only share information on a need-to-know basis, and that was absolutely the right call because it would've been pandemonium."

This got us thinking about why some people panic in a crisis while others don't. We're all wired differently with different temperaments, stress levels and tolerances, reaction times, and fears. This means that some people are grace under fire in a crisis while others come undone at the seams. In an emergency, our limbic system goes into overdrive, which means that our body releases hormones like adrenaline to help us prepare to fight threats. Some people freeze in a crisis, so their reaction time is super slow.

To maintain your composure in a crisis, you must calm your physiological and emotional responses as best as possible. Crying, screaming, hyperventilating, or even freezing isn't help you very much if you think to figure out what you need to do. Take deep breaths to reground yourself and get oxygen to your brain because you often tend to hold your breath. Deep breathing also helps to slow down your heart rate and slow down your breathing. You want to be able to think through situations as best you can.

When you're calm in a crisis, others can draw strength from your calmness. Remember that chaos has a contagion effect. Think about children who look at their parents when they're scared. Children tend to feel more relaxed when mom and dad are calm and acting like it's no big deal. Sometimes, it's best to tell people what they need to know to get through the crisis. You can fill in the details after the situation is over.

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