Whatever your age, getting in a panic is a health hazard and must be avoided at all cost. Surviving and thriving on a daily basis are stressful enough, you certainly don’t need to add to that level of stress by panicking.
While we’ve all heard examples of individuals doing extraordinary things while pumped with adrenalin (lifting a car, running through a burning building, etc.), we now know that panic can decrease a system’s operational effectiveness by 30% or more – sometimes completely destroying it.
Consider, for example, the typical throughput of a highway during rush hour. While it may be a pain in the backside, the cars generally keep a safe distance, drivers remain sufficiently alert, and everyone eventually gets home. When, however, these same people are fleeing a natural disaster, panic sets in and traffic is at a complete standstill. Next time you’re waiting to exit your flight, think about how bad things would be if fellow passengers panicked.
There are three things we can do to ensure that panic is not part of our life.
- Eliminate the cause. The answer to, ‘Should I panic?’ is always ‘No!’ Always. The costs – personal and economic – are too high and they’re compounding. They’re called ‘panic attacks’ for a reason. You don’t have to have one if you don’t want it. Identify the cause or instigator and do what it takes to eliminate it so it never happens again.
- Avert panic. Panic averted is far cheaper than panic survived, so we need to get rid of potential panic-causers. Traffic congestion, for example, is reduced on crowded freeways by controlling entry (gated entry) to lanes of traffic. Controlled entry enables a far faster flow of traffic than letting cars on at any time.
- Identify the contributors. Require that those that create panic for a living take responsibility for the way their actions dramatically magnify the cost we all pay. The media and politicians are two well-known panic-makers. And police must be trained to first diffuse panic. Reducing potential hassles (and hasslers) is always a good starting point.