Fire of Anxiety: Stop, Drop and Roll

Fire of AnxietyRemember those Public Service Announcements about how to protect yourself in a fire? I can hear it in my head now–STOP, DROP, AND ROLL. That PSA must have been on heavy rotation when I was a child because any time I even see a hint of a fire, I can hear the narrator’s voice in my head telling me what to do. The other day, it occurred to me that this is also a useful reminder of what to do when the fire is metaphorical instead of literal. When life is getting you overwhelmed and anxious, the same advice holds true.

First, take a moment and STOP what you are doing. Take a minute, maybe even a few seconds, to bring some conscious awareness to what you are doing. Put words to your experience. Observe. Describe.

Second, DROP INTO YOUR BREATH. Bring your awareness to your breathing. This is a great time to use some breathing techniques. Use whatever works for you. Diaphragmatic breathing. Counting breaths. Mindfulness of the breath.

 And lastly, ROLL WITH IT. Recognize that what is going on is likely not a crisis. Now that you have taken a moment to slow down, you can evaluate your next move. Bring perspective to your situation. One thing I like to do when things are feeling out of control is to ask myself these questions: What’s the worst that can happen here? If that happens, will I live through it? Is there anything I can do to help myself feel and do better in this situation?

So, if you find yourself in a “fire” of emotions, remember to stop (what you’re doing), drop (into your breath), and roll (with it by evaluating your perspective and problem solving).


Posted by Jasmine Teleki, PsyD