Feeling Anxious? Give this grounding technique a try!
You’re out and about at the grocery store and it’s crowded or maybe you’re about to take a test that you aren’t certain you can pass. Anxiety is rising up within you, making you shake and tremble and you feel as though your heart is going to burst from your chest. Maybe you’re even just home alone, sitting on the couch and you can’t help but feel scared though you’re not quite sure why.
Trust me, you’re not alone.
I have been in all three of these situations. Sometimes my anxiety seems to come from thin air even if nothing is happening and I have no ‘real’ reason to feel scared. Usually, my first instinct is to grab my phone and use the internet as a distraction. Not only is this not the best idea regardless, but half the time I end up reading something (whether it be news or drama on Twitter) that makes me even more anxious than I was before!
The internet has made it easy to know the moment an event is happening whether it be a good thing or bad. There’s even settings on some watches and phones that automatically send you an alert when news breaks. It feels as though you can’t escape!
So what do you do?
Well, recently I’ve been introduced to a new grounding technique that I’ve found pretty helpful and I hope that by sharing it, it’ll help you too!
As you may know from elementary, there are five senses: sight, touch, sound, smell and taste. For this grounding technique, we’re going to focus on each sense and go one at a time.
Let’s begin with sight. Look around the room you’re in. Select five items and take in their appearance. Do you have a picture in your room? Whose in it? What color clothes are they wearing? Maybe you’re at school or in the library and are studying for an exam! Do you have books near you? Read the titles. What do they say? Does the book look old and worn? Is the cover stained? Focus on each of these items and take in every inch of them, including their imperfections! Imagine you’re describing them to someone who has never seen that specific object before.
Once you’ve completed that first grounding technique, it’s time to move on to touch. Find four items with different textures. It can be the pen you’re holding in your hand, the desk your books are resting on, the cool metal of the legs of your chair, and the dusty, old carpet beneath your feet. Run your fingers along the item. Feel for any indents or points of the object (safely of course!). If you can, hold the item in your hands and feel the weight!
Are you ready to move on to the next grounding technique? Okay, next is sound. Close your eyes and listen to the room or area around you. See if you can pick out three specific sounds. Open your window and listen for the sound of cars going up and down the road or your neighbor's dog barking. Maybe it’s summer and you can hear fireworks going off in the distance. Focus on those sounds until they fade away.
The fourth sense and grounding technique is smell. Can you pick out two distinct smells? Do you have a candle lit? Or maybe your friends and/or family are cooking a meal in the next room? Even the lingering scent of your roommate’s burnt popcorn from the night before counts!
Finally, it’s time for the fifth sense and grounding technique: taste. Have you eaten something really good recently? Or sipped a nice iced coffee? Remember that taste. How did it make you feel? Did it taste good or maybe it reminds you of a positive memory?
Now, take a deep breath. In through your nose and out through your mouth. One more time. Hopefully, you’ll feel a lot more relaxed and if not, the exercise will have at least helped distract you from your panic for a little while or even decreased the level of nervousness you’re feeling! If you still feel overwhelmed, I would suggest going through these grounding techniques again, but pick new objects to look at or find something else to touch, preferably something that comforts you, like a soft blanket.
You may think this whole thing about grounding techniques seems a little silly and maybe it is, but it works and I speak from experience. Prior to taking my driver’s test, I focused on the feeling of the steering wheel beneath my fingers. I listened to the sound of cars racing past and honking their horns. I felt a little silly doing it with my friend in the passenger seat, but it really did help and made it much easier for me to succeed!
Please give these grounding techniques a try and I hope it can help you feel relaxed and keep yourself present!