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5 Ways To Ground Yourself During an Anxiety Attack

Imagine: you’re right in the middle of a conversation or work assignment, and it hits. You feel your chest tighten; the air feels heavy. Your brain is white noise. Everything around you starts to blur. The world feels like it’s ending.

That’s right–you’re having an anxiety attack. It happens!

Anxiety and panic attacks are never convenient, and in the moment often leave those who experience them completely at a loss for how to move forward with their day.

Whether at work or in a casual setting, what do you do to help soothe the anxiety and regain control?

Try Some Breathing Exercises

Focus entirely on your breathing. It’s going to be difficult, but it is critical that you regain control of your air supply! Breathe in increasing counts; start with five! Breathe in for five counts, hold for five counts, exhale for five counts. Increase steadily until you get to ten, and re-evaluate. Keep breathing slowly and steadily; you’re doing great!

Another option: memorize some meditation exercises! Meditation is a wonderful tool for deep breathing and finding your center.

Embrace Pressure Therapy (Literally!)

Deep Pressure Therapy is gaining in knowledge and popularity, and it’s no wonder why! Find someone to give you a hug, wrap your arms around yourself, or grab your weighted blanket. The pressure, when done correctly, can trigger a sense of calm within your body.

Embraced for its effectiveness for those with autism spectrum disorder, deep pressure stimulation is becoming more commonly recognized as a treatment aid for other mental health disorders, such as anxiety.

Take a Walk

Stepping away from what you’re doing and taking a quick walk can do wonders! Sometimes your trigger is environmental, so moving to a new space helps. As you’re walking, distract yourself away from the anxious energy. Focus on your breathing, on how your body is moving, on what you are able to experience on your walk. Sometimes all it takes is a few minutes away to be able to reset!

5-4-3-2-1 Method

The 5-4-3-2-1 Method is a great way to ground yourself and soothe your anxious mind. Stop whatever you’re doing, and take note of your surroundings. In order, find and focus on:

  • 5 things you can see. Make note of size, color, and other visible characteristics.

  • 4 things you can touch. Feel the ground under your feet. Notice the way your clothes rest on your body. Pick up items from your space; keeping sensory items nearby is great for this! Notice textures, temperatures, and weights.

  • 3 things you can hear. Listen to the space around you. Can you hear music? Birds or traffic from the outside? The whir of the central air system? Typing from nearby desks? Identify 3 sounds, and hone in on them.

  • 2 things you can smell. Are you wearing a fragrance? Is there a candle burning nearby, or food cooking? Is someone chewing gum? Locate two smells and savor them in your mind. What are they? Break them down.

  • 1 thing you can taste. If you have food or drink nearby, enjoy it. Roll the flavors on your tongue, and really sink into them. Keeping breath mints, gum, or sweets on you can really help with this! If no food is available, focus on the taste inside your mouth. Is it sweet? Bitter? Think about it!

By the time you’ve completed your list, you should feel a little more grounded! Repeat as many times as necessary.

The 3-3-3 Rule

Feel overwhelmed by the idea of memorizing the 5-4-3-2-1 Method, but looking for something similar to distract from the rising panic? The 3-3-3 Rule is great! In order:

  • List three things you can see.

  • Identify three things you can hear.

  • Move three different parts of your body, one at a time.

Keeping it simpler with three of each task can make it easier to remember, and more manageable to execute!

Remember: Anxiety is Nothing to Be Ashamed Of!

If you experience anxiety or panic attacks, don’t feel stigmatized! Instead, try to address the issue. Talk to loved ones about your experience, and don’t think that you have to hide your attacks. By speaking up and actively seeking ways to ground yourself, you are taking your power back, and that is something to be proud of!

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