Learning ways to stay grounded is a staple of survival in our “Age of Anxiety.” Constant bombardment from the media and the bustle of day-to-day living has our stress levels up more than they have ever been throughout history.
Anxiety is our body’s warning system that something is wrong and needs our immediate attention. There are many forms of anxiety: postpartum, trauma-based, allergy based, and social, just to name a few. The main one that comes to mind, though, stems from panic due to overthinking and worry.
This continuous state of stress, over time, can deteriorate our minds and bodies. Therefore, there has never been a better time to learn a few grounding techniques to add to your arsenal of tools for when these panic attacks arise.
Sinking Your Energy
We keep most of our energy up in our heads because this is where most of our sensory processing capabilities exist. We see, hear, smell, taste, think and even feel up in our heads, so it makes sense that we would keep most of our energy up here by default.
If you’re prone to anxiety and panic attacks, however, this can cause them to come about more frequently and stick around longer once they hit. To counteract this, you want to consciously sink your energy down into the lower half of your body, where there’s space to breathe in-between moments.
Do this by simply focusing on your lower half. Bring your awareness to breathing in the belly and feeling the weight of your hips and legs. Feel their solidity against the ground. Relax your face, shoulders, torso, and arms. Try to keep your consciousness sunk down here, where there’s less going on, until you start to feel lighter and more relaxed.
Tracing Your Feet
Similar to sinking your energy, when you notice these anxiety-based panic attacks coming in, look down at your feet. Feel their solidity against the ground and the weight of your body that they so confidently hold up. Trace around each foot mentally or with your finger again and again until you feel yourself begin to calm and relax. Throw in some “I am safe” type of affirmations to help lock in those better, more positive emotions.
Crowd Out The Thoughts
Our minds can only hold so much at any given time. If our minds are feeding us intrusive thoughts that are triggering our anxiety, we can consciously begin to feed it better thoughts, movements, and sensory processes until it begins to crowd out the panicky thoughts.
You may have heard of this process along the lines of “Find 3 things you see, 3 things you hear, 3 things you feel, 3 things you smell,” and so on. But you can also add in correcting your posture, controlling your breathing, opening up the heart center, and relaxing the face, shoulders, and any other muscles you can pinpoint that are specifically tense.
Our minds and bodies are connected, and sometimes it’s easier to control the body and convince it you’re calm with physical mechanisms and movements. Convince the body first, and the mind will begin to follow its lead.