It has been a wild ride for local investors today with the S&P/ASX 200 (Index: ^AXJO) (ASX: XJO) shifting swiftly into negative territory as the odds of a Brexit look to have increased.

Although some investors may be shaken up by today’s massive swing, it’s important to remember that this is a normal part of investing in the share market and, as mentioned earlier, investors should try to remain calm and think before they act.

Short term over-reactions are not unusual and investors should take a minute to reflect on what impact a Brexit or Bremain would actually have on the companies in their portfolio.

For the majority of companies, it will be business as usual whatever the outcome, and this means a sell-off today could actually present some good buying opportunities.

For example, shares of Sigma Pharmaceutical Limited (ASX: SIP) have lost nearly 3% today. Are people really going to stop buying their medicines if Britain leaves the European Union? I doubt it.

G8 Education Ltd (ASX: GEM) shares have also lost around 3% today. Will parents stop taking their children to childcare because Britain stays or goes? That is unlikely and I think today’s fall could be a great time to pick up shares in this high dividend paying stock.

Woolworths Limited (ASX: WOW) shares started the day in positive territory but are now 1.9% lower following the updated information from the polls. I think the supermarket giant has much bigger issues to worry about then a Brexit and it would be illogical to sell your shares based on the outcome of today’s vote. At the end of the day, I doubt Australians will reduce their consumption of food and drinks if Britain leaves the European Union.

NIB Holdings Limited (ASX: NHF) shares have lost more than 3.5% today even though the company has barely any exposure to the British or European markets. The company even upgraded its profit guidance only a couple of months ago. Hardly a reason to sell your shares today.

Finally, today’s fall in the Transurban Group (ASX: TCL) share price is perhaps the biggest indicator of how markets can over-react to short term news. Transurban shares have lost more than 2.2% even though the outcome of the vote will have zero impact on how many people will drive on its toll roads.

Foolish takeaway

The five examples above demonstrate why investors should remain patient and look for buying opportunities when markets trade on emotion.

The markets may remain volatile for the rest of the day and investors may find themselves with the opportunity to buy their favourite shares at a discounted price.

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Motley Fool contributor Christopher Georges owns shares of G8 Education Limited. The Motley Fool Australia has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson.