10+ Things You Can Do to Stop the Panic

What can you do when worry sets in? How can you stop the panic? Check out these ways to calm the chaos in your mind when you start to worry and panic.

People with ADHD are often overly sensitive or have true anxiety and panic attacks. What can we do to stop the panic?

We all can get stuck in a rut. Catastrophizing is common. When we catastrophize, it’s as if the sky is falling and we lose the ability to cope.

We panic.

Learning to cope when life throws problems and stressors in our way builds our resilience. Being resilient helps us to be successful.

Let’s look at ways to stop the negative thinking of panic.

1. Lean on a friend or family member.

Most of us recognize how good we feel when we help someone else out, yet we hesitate to ask for help. Why is that? When we’re in need, there are many people who can help.

Lean On Me lyrics share a fantastic message. #friends @adhdkcteen

It’s preferable if you can talk to someone who is at least in their mid-20s. Their maturity can offer many benefits. If you’re not sure who you can talk to, think of the many adults in your life who would be happy to listen. Parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents, coaches, teachers, neighbors… there are many people who care about you.

If you choose to talk to a peer, choose wisely. Some people can’t take the pressure of hearing negativity. Others will shut you out. And of course many kids overshare other people’s business, so don’t talk about things that are private with peers.

2. Mindfulness

Practice mindfulness to help with anxiety, focus, and overall healthy well being. @adhdkcteen

Don’t roll your eyes and presume mindfulness won’t help.

Mindfulness trains your brain to be aware of your body and environment without judgement.

Yes, it takes time to learn how to be mindful, but a lot of research shows that mindfulness can help with anxiety, chronic pain, stress, focus, and more.

Mindfulness is often referred to as a practice for a reason. You should practice it often, but there are no right or wrong ways to do it.

If you can’t sit still, don’t. It’s okay to get up and walk while being mindful.

When your brain keeps thinking of things, don’t get upset. Just redirect.

Start simple with breathing. You breathe every day, so you can do this step. Take deep belly breaths. Nice and slow. Focus on the breathing.

For more tips on being mindful with ADHD, see

3. Journal

Journaling can get thoughts out of your head so you can relax. Try it when you're angry, anxious, or can't sleep. It just might work. @adhdkcteen

Sometimes it helps to get your thoughts written. Even if you don’t like to write school papers, journaling can help.

Grab a pen and paper or start typing.

It doesn’t need to be grammatically correct or interesting to anyone else. You can just make word jumbles or lists. If you like poetry, make it into a poem.

Just get your thoughts written down.

There’s a very cathartic benefit towards journaling.

You can even take it a step further and write down things you’re thankful for each day. Gratitude helps our overall mindset, and focusing on gratitude can lift our mood.

4. Color and doodle

Doodling and coloring are very relaxing and can be done nearly anywhere when you need to relax. @adhdkcteen

There’s something really soothing about coloring or just doodling.

You can even use free printables like these online if you want some coloring sheets.

And this is something that can be done nearly anywhere.

5. Sing or listen to your favorite tune

Singing or listening to music are ways to help calm down when anxious or angry. @adhdkcteen

What better way to get into a good mood? Listen to a favorite song. Sing along!

Research has shown that listening to music can reduce anxiety, blood pressure and pain. It can also help sleep quality, mood, mental alertness, and memory.

Pick your favorite feel good songs and make a playlist that you can pull up when needed.

6. Exercise

Exercise should be fun. Find things you love to do and do them. Every day. @adhdkcteen

We’ve all heard that exercise helps our bodies, but many people minimize the value it has for our mental health.

Regular exercise helps our mindset in general, but if you have the opportunity to work out when you’re upset, it can help lift your mood.

Combine numbers 5 and 6 and workout to some great tunes!

7. Change the scene

If you need to change your mood or attitude, change the scene. Get up and walk around. It helps! @adhdkcteen

If you’re getting worked up, it can help to get up and walk around.

Especially if you are worried you will say or do something you’ll regret, leave the situation if you can.

If you can go outside, even better. Fresh air can be mood-lifting.

8. Think about what has gone right.

Even the very worst days have something that went right. Take time every day to think about the positives. What are you grateful for? What went right? @adhdkcteen

We tend to ruminate about what’s wrong. Negative thoughts are all we can think about. We need to learn to stop this rumination.

When you recognize that you’re ruminating, accept that you’re having whatever thoughts you’re having. Recognize that the thoughts might not be accurate and allow the thoughts to pass rather than trying to block them out. Trying to block out negative thoughts will just cause increased intensity of the thoughts you’re trying not to have. You can replace negative thoughts with positive thoughts: what is going right? What is the best possible outcome? How can you turn the situation around?

If this is hard, start to make it a practice to write down at least one thing at the end of each day that went well. Your hard studying paid off. You met a new friend. You had a good hair day. Whatever it is, keeping a list gives you something to reflect upon when you’re really down. Doing this daily also helps your brain practice finding the good in things. Like anything, practice makes things easier. It is really hard to find good things to think about when you’re in a bad place, but it gets easier when you’ve practiced when you’re not in a foul mood.

9. Be silly

Being funny can help raise the mood, but be sure you aren't hurting or insulting anyone in order to make a joke. @adhdkcteen

You have to use this one sparingly.

Obviously in the middle of class you can’t start being silly, but if you’re able to get to a place that you can do a silly dance or anything silly to unwind: do it. Acting the part can help relax you and set the mood.

Be careful to not offend anyone or be hurtful in your humor and silliness.

10. Find perspective

Run through questions that help put your worries into perspective.

  1. What are you really worried about?
  2. How likely is it that your worry will come true? Use evidence to support your answer.
  3. If your worry comes true, what is the worst thing that will happen?
  4. If your worry does come true, what’s the most likely thing that will happen?
  5. If your worry does come true, what are the chances that things will be okay
    1. In one week?
    2. In one month?
    3. In one year?

Try a Thought Record to help get your thoughts in order. Here’s a completed example and one you can use for yourself.

Thought Record from https://www.getselfhelp.co.uk/docs/ThoughtRecordSheet.pdf @adhdkcteen

11. Sensory stuff

There are many sensory items that have been shown to help with anxiety and focus. Find what works for you. @adhdkcteen

Sensory items can help calm our minds. Think of sounds, smells, textures, and visually relaxing things.

  • Squishy play doh or silly putty
  • Textured cloth
  • White noise machines
  • Chewable jewelry – if you don’t know what this is, just search “chewelry”
  • Weighted blanket
  • Noise reducing headphones
  • Rock or sway
  • Run your fingers through a bin of sand, dry rice, or dry beans
  • Aromatherapy – Use candles, diffusers, or scented objects. Jasmine, vanilla and other scents might relax you.
  • Glitter jar – make your own!

Need more?

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is very effective for anxiety management. Ask your physician to help find a good therapist for you.

If you’re not willing or able to work with a therapist, there are some interesting options to try online. These are not meant to replace professional help, but they help to remove the most common roadblocks to working with a therapist: cost, time, and not wanting to talk to a real person. Learning online might help you see what can be done with therapy and open your mind to finding a therapist.

  • Woebot is a free app that uses artificial intelligence to teach CBT. It can help you think through situations and learn about yourself with intelligent mood tracking.
  • MindShift™ CBT uses scientifically proven strategies based on Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) to help you learn to relax and be mindful, develop more effective ways of thinking, and use active steps to take charge of your anxiety.
  • What’s Up? is a free app currently only available for iOS users using some of the best CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) and ACT (Acceptance Commitment Therapy) methods to help you cope with Depression, Anxiety, Anger, Stress and more!

ABCs of stopping negative thoughts and rumination

Does rumination and negative thinking keep you from finding appropriate solutions and moving forward? Learn how to overcome negative thinking with ABCs.

We all have negative thoughts, but when we get stuck in a rut about them, it’s called rumination. When we ruminate, we can’t stop thinking the negative thought, which keeps us from finding appropriate solutions and moving forward. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) teaches how to break this cycle of rumination. One way to use CBT is to think of your ABCs. Use the handout linked below to stop thinking negative thoughts.

A is for Adversity

When there’s a problem, we need to identify the trigger, or what is causing the adverse situation.

B is for Belief

How we view a problem is not necessarily what is going on. We tend to catastrophize the situation.

C is for Consequences of believing in the negative thought

Notice this does not simply say consequences. It is important to focus on identifying your belief and how it is coloring your view. Not everything we fear is based on reality. Learn to find the facts.

D is for Disputing

Dispute your negative belief. What are alternative ways to look at things?

E is for Energizing

What effect does disputing have on your mood? Is there something you can take from the dispute to use in a positive way?

What does this look like?

Download a free printable to help you work through the ABCs of stopping negative thoughts and ruminating yourself. Stop thinking negative thoughts with the help of this FREE handout.

Check out the following examples to see how the process works.

Situation 1: Your BFF hasn’t answered your important text.

A: Your friend is usually quick to reply and you’re worried that there’s something wrong that’s kept her from replying.

B: You don’t know if she’s mad at you or dead on the side of the road after an accident.

C: You are worried that you did something to anger your friend or that something catastrophic is keeping her from answering.

D: There was no indication that she was upset with you last time you spoke. She is a safe driver and the road conditions are fine. It is possible that she could have forgotten to charge her phone (again). She could have the ringer off. Sometimes texts don’t go through. She might be busy doing something and unable to check messages.

E: Do you feel less anxious realizing there are other reasons that your text has gone unanswered? What about these new thoughts can help you problem solve? Is there another way to reach your friend, such as through her parent or another friend? Should you call instead of text?

Situation 2: Too much to do!

A: Last week you missed a couple days of school so you got behind and can’t quite get back on track. You have a paper due, a huge test this week, and practice every night after school.

B: There’s so much to do, you’re overwhelmed and can’t even start on any of the schoolwork. After practice you want to just relax and watch YouTube videos. You need time to relax to feel better, but then you realize hours later that no work has been done, so you’re going to be up all night working. This leaves you too tired to focus at school so you get confused on even simple concepts and questions.

C: Anxiety is keeping you from initiating what needs to be done. While relaxing is important, you are not using your time efficiently, which is adding to the problem. You’re sleep deprived, which increases anxiety.

D: Take a look at how much time you’re spending on everything. What can be pushed off until later? Where are the priorities? How can you moderate your down time so you can be productive but still have time to relax?

Mindset: This is a situation I have the capacity to deal with. I’ve developed a pattern of avoidant coping but I can get better at non-avoidant coping through the right kind of practice. This is an opportunity for that.

E: Does realizing how much down time you waste help you regroup and use time more efficiently? Are you motivated to set timers to help limit your free time? Can you grab a friend to study together to keep you on track? Are there things you need to change in your schedule so you can devote appropriate time to tasks? Are any of your teachers willing to extend the deadline since you were sick? What can you learn from this to do it better next time?

When we ruminate, we can't stop thinking the negative thought, which keeps us from finding appropriate solutions and moving forward. Learn how to overcome this with ABCs. @adhdkcteen #adhdteen #adhd