In this modern day stressful world, it is not surprising that more and more people are suffering from mental health disorders, be it short-term or chronic. It’s a different world these days, and the gap between expectations and reality has grown wider. One of the more common mental health issues we face these days is anxiety.
To a certain extent, everyone suffers from being anxious or nervous from time to time, except for privileged people who have it made for them. However, for some, anxiety and panic attacks happen so frequently that it can be classified as a mental health issue. Today I’m here to share some “grounding techniques”, which have been shown to help sufferers of anxiety to cope with panic attacks.
Let’s start off with the basics. Grounding techniques are used to keep your mind in reality. If you have had anxiety before, you would know that sometimes you just “zone out” and psychologically feel like your mind is in a plane of existence separate from the reality of our physical world. It’s hard to describe it to non-anxiety sufferers.
Grounding is about using mental and psychological techniques to keep your mind in this world, which is the crucial first step to coping with stressful situations. In the world of psychology and psychiatry, this technique has been used for sufferers of post-traumatic stress disorder, and has only recently been pushed out to include anxiety sufferers.
Basically, grounding techniques describe a set of conscious actions you can undertake, focusing on all your five physical senses so that your mind can orient yourself back to reality. So next time you find yourself “lost” during a panic attack, try some of these:
One – Try to focus on physical sensations. Concentrate on the feeling of your feet touching the ground. Tap on the ground lightly a few times to emphasize your grip on reality. Just focus to how it feels.
Two – Focus on the sounds around you. Are there cars driving in the background? Are the birds chirping? Focus on one sound first, and then focus on the rest of them. Take a moment to “space out” if you must, but after that focus again.
Three – If you have food nearby, grab it near your face and put a little into your mouth. Focus on how the food smells and tastes like. Whether you like it or not is another story.
Four – Look at your surroundings, focusing on one object at a time. It would be best if you could focus on the natural environment, such as staring outside a window to look at the trees and the sky. If possible, go outdoors.
Five – Mindfully start breathing slowly and focusing on it. Count in your mind as you are inhaling and exhaling. Don’t be afraid to let your thoughts wander for a moment, but consciously try to get back to thinking about things in your surroundings as soon as you can.
Six – Brain exercises. Checking the time and remembering the day and date requires focus and can draw you back to reality. Count the number of items around you. Write a list of something – anything in fact!
Does all of this take effort? Yes it does! There are also things you can do while not experiencing a crisis. You can write down a checklist of these techniques and have it with you at all times. Keep one in the car and another in the office. Refer to it when you feel a panic attack coming.
Remember that although grounding techniques can be effective, it is not a blanket rule. That means that if you find yourself having anxiety attacks often, you should seek professional help, especially if you have suicidal thoughts! I can recommend some good resources below for a start.
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