In all honesty, I used to hate the word anxiety. I thought it was over used and thrown around by people (i.e. everyone) as a way to say they couldn’t deal with a situation. I just never felt it was the right word to use. In my head, unless you were having a full blown anxiety attack or had an extreme phobia, you were not experiencing anxiety. However I have since learned that is not at all true.
Everyone has been anxious at some point in their life. Whether it’s from public speaking, having to meet a deadline or even from having to meet someone for the first time. It is something we actually all feel to a certain degree. And actually experiencing an anxious feeling is not necessarily a bad thing. It’s our body’s way of telling us that something might not be right and that we need to be paying attention.
My Experience with Anxiety
I’ve never experienced an anxiety attack or a fear so strong that it is crippling. But I do now realize that the tightness I experience in my chest, the constant “what if” questions I am asking myself and the way I tend to shut down when I talk about the future, is, in a form, anxiety and it is real.
When I started going to therapy, my therapist asked me if I ever experienced anxiety. I told her yes, but that I hated using that word to describe it. She then proceeded to ask me what causes the anxious feeling. For me it’s thinking about the future. Not knowing what my life is supposed to or going to look like. My therapist broke it down pretty simply when she said “well that makes sense since anxiety is basically fear of the unknown”. Ha.
This overwhelming, tightness in my chest feeling hits me randomly. Sometimes it’s a quick wave other times it lingers. However until I started to go to therapy, I didn’t really think there was anything to do about it other than just waiting it out. Like I said, for me, it’s not crippling. It’s annoying and not fun at all fun to think about it, but it’s never been something I felt I could do something about. However, recently, my therapist suggested some grounding techniques.
What Are Grounding Techniques?
Grounding techniques are ways to bring yourself back to the present and away from the emotions brought on by feeling anxious. It’s a way to center yourself as well as distract yourself from the anxiety. Grounding techniques, are obviously not a cure for anxiety, but rather a way to create some temporary relief.
So even if you don’t experience full blown anxiety, but still feel anxious at times from whatever is on your mind. Here are 7 grounding techniques that I’ve found to help bring you back down.
7 Grounding Techniques For When You Feel Anxious
1. Acknowledge the anxiety
First and foremost, acknowledge your anxiety. Take note of what you are feeling it, what thoughts you are thinking and remind yourself that you have the power to change those thoughts.
2. Describe your environment in detail
In an attempt to bring yourself into the present and away from whatever future event that is causing you anxiety, take some time to describe your surroundings in a very a detailed way. Use all 5 senses, describe the textures, the colors and whatever else is happening in the space you are in.
3. Focus on your breathing
Take some time to notice how you are breathing. Each inhale and each exhale. Spending, even 5 minutes, meditating would be perfect for this.
4. Have a mantra
When you start to feel anxious have a mantra on hand that you can repeat to yourself. For me, since I’m always so concerned with the future, it is “you are exactly where you need to be”.
5. Go outside
Go outside. Feel the sunshine on your skin, walk around in the grass barefoot and really think about how good it all feels.
6. Create a safe place
Create a safe place in your mind. A place you can close your eyes and escape to when you are feeling anxious. It can be anywhere as long as it makes you happy 🙂
When all else fails, get out there and do something active. Exercising, walking, stretching, anything to take your mind off of the anxious feeling.
These are in no way meant to replace professional help for clinical anxiety. But if your ever start to feel yourself getting anxious, give one of these grounding techniques a try!