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If you’re tossed in a pool, thrashing wildly is the worst thing you can do. But if it’s never happened before, how would you know better?

You can learn to tread water. A coordinated effort between your limbs will keep your head in the air. Erratic motions make you sink.

And if you know how to swim, you can propel yourself to the edge of the pool.

All these skills take practice. Unless you have them, it can easily feel like you’re drowning. Start simply: Try holding still. Stop thrashing. Focus on breathing. Feel the way that the water pushes on you–upward, not downward. You float. (And unlike a pool, anxiety can’t hurt you. It’s painful. It passes.)

So start small. It will get better. But fighting against it will never work. You have to learn to move with the water.