An anxiety attack or a panic attack can be a super scary experience and I don’t think you can ever imagine it until it happens to you. Everyone’s is slightly different so I can only talk from personal experience. For me, I feel like the walls are closing in on me, that I need to be in fresh air, that I can’t catch my breath and like everything and anything is about to go wrong at any second. It’s rubbish and the more you have the more it grinds you down. However the more I have the more I also learn to deal with them, often being able to catch them before they go full throttle. I have talked about ways to stop anxiety attacks before but the Grounding Technique is by far the one I have most success with so far.
So what is Grounding? When you have an anxiety attack you can often feel like you are in a different world to everyone else, you see the space you are in very different to them and your fight or flight sense kicks in. You can feel very detached from the things and the people around you. Grounding literally grounds you. It brings you back into the here and now, it brings you back to the present and helps you to concentrate on the simple things. It is a form of mindfulness.
I use Grounding as my go to technique to use when I can feel an anxiety kicking in because it helps me to feel present. Something which is so important when you are a constant worrier about the future whether it be the next 10 minutes or the next 10 years. Because of this I have scoured the Internet to find the best Grounding techniques out there and here are some very simple ones that you can try yourself if you are starting to feel overwhelmed or on edge.
- Breathing – Well of course we all breath but often in the case of panic and anxiety it is about slowing your breathing down. A good exercise to remember is breathing in for 4 seconds, holding that breath for 7 seconds and breathing out for 8 seconds. Doing this a few times will reset your breathing and help you to think straight again.
- Ask yourself questions – This isn’t the time to start giving yourself a test on the Oxford comma or on long multiplication. Ask yourself what year it is, how old you are, where you are. Bring yourself back to where you are and what you are doing.
- Eat or drink something – If you have food or drink available grab something. Concentrate on it’s taste; is it sweet or sour for example? Just concentrate on eating or drinking and nothing else so your brain is distracted by that.
- Move around – Some people say that fidgeting really helps and I find that helps too but if you feel too awkward doing that then just discreetly wiggle your toes and your fingers.
They are some great Grounding tools to try and although they may sound silly because they are so simple, they really do work. However the one I use mostly is the one below.
This one is easy to remember and really helps to distract you and also to bring you back to where you are. Using your senses gets your brain working in a positive way and calms down the fight or flight.
As I always say, I am not a mental health expert but everything I have shared in this blog post has worked for me so hopefully it might work for you too. Let me know what Grounding techniques you use.