I’m not talking about a real emergency. Hopefully, you know what to do when the french fry oil catches fire. (Hint: It has everything to do with the fire extinguisher that should be in or near your kitchen and absolutely, positively, NOTHING to do with water.)

I’m talking about the little emergencies that make one long for a paper bag to breathe into. Unfortunately, we’re all using cloth sacks to take home our groceries, and breathing into one of those just doesn’t cut it.

A friend once gave me a great little card to tuck into my wallet for the kind of days that make one’s head spin on its delicate little axis. One side read BREATHE. This is good advice for just about any situation, with the possible exception of being underwater. Make that a definite exception.

The other side had these handy instructions. Feel free to print them out and keep them close at hand, sort of like a little fire extinguisher.

* I can do this. I’m doing it now.

* I don’t have to do this perfectly.

* Worry is irrelevant; it will not make me take an action, nor prevent me from taking one.

* No negative self-talk. Stay focused on the positive.

* Ease up a little and allow myself to be human.

* The worst is very unlikely to occur; if it does, I will handle it.

* People and situations don’t upset me; I do.

* I will recognize and let go of those things that I cannot change.

* I’m learning not to take myself or life so seriously.