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Grounding to calm your anxiety

Okay so I am not going to suggest anxiety is solved simply by deep breathing or aligning your chakra’s... but I also don’t want to demean, or poo-poo the idea of calming anxiety in an acute situation. Let’s say you are at work (or wherever anxiety occurs) and your feelings begin to become overwhelming, heartbeat increases, a knot in your chest and a horrible flooding of cortisol and the accompanying emotion. This is a situation where, before you do anything else to tackle the problem, you want to take just a few minutes to ground yourself- i.e., move away from the anxiety, at least briefly, to give yourself space to calm and settle. Here are a couple of ideas based on clinical evidence coupled with the positive experiences of my clients (and let me fess up here , I was originally on the sceptical side of ‘grounding’ I was even a bit fed up with hearing about breathing, for years we’ve been told to ‘take a dep breath’ and I felt like I would punch somebody if they told me to take a deep breath when I was enraged about something!) I am now, however, after succeeding with grounding myself numerous times, converted. I encourage you to at least try grounding, perhaps at first in a situation where you are relatively calm so that you are prepared for when you really need it.

Technique # 1 Square breathing (time: circa 2 mins)

1. Find a private place

2. Set the timer on your mobile phone to two minutes

3. Stand with you hands at your sides and head up and close your eyes

4. Breath in for four seconds, hold if for four seconds, breathe out for 4 seconds

5. repeat: 4,4,4, until the timer buzzes/rings

Technique # 2 Musicology (time: depends on the length of the track)

1. Plug in your headphones if you are at work

2. Make sure you have the track(s) you want on the phone or spotify available

3. Sit or stand and press play on your chosen track

4. Close your eyes so there is only sound

5. Listen to the music and try to hear it all, the underlying instruments (not just the vocals) for example

6. When you get distracted, gently come back to the music

7. Stay with it until the music stops

Technique # 3 sensational (time: circa 2 minutes)

1. Where you are sat or standing start by focussing on 3 things you can see and take in their shapes/appearance carefully

2. Notice 3 things you can hear right now

3. Notice at least one thing you can smell

4. Where you are stood/sat: what can you feel? In your back, legs, bum, feet?

5. What is one thing you can taste?

6. Repeat until you’ve done at least 2 minutes

There is a lot more to tackling the underlying causes of anxiety but consider this ‘first-aid’ until there is time and space to do something more substantial (e.g., start to talk it through with a friend, counsellor etc).

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