When the mind panics (or is overly anxious) and doesn’t know what to be aware of, come back to your body sensations and feelings. When defilements are strong, you should not be aware of your thoughts. You should be aware of feelings or body sensations; no story anymore.
If defilements are strong, feelings are strong too. It is easier to be aware of feelings then. At that time, you shouldn’t be aware of your thoughts. If you pay attention to thoughts, it is easy for the mind to be more lost in thoughts. So come back to your feelings or body sensations.
If you panic, you can be aware of the panic feeling – it is easier to know the panic then, ‘Oh, the mind is panicking, the mind is panicking.’ Just recognize that the mind is panicking, that’s all. And when the mind calms down, you can choose any object easily. When the mind panics, you don’t know how to choose, right? It’s better to be aware of the panic first.