By Gill Jackson- qualified therapist.
Originally published: Nov' 2020
Last reviewed: Nov' 2023
Anxiety affects many of us, and at this time more than ever as a therapist I am seeing people who need help to regain control and overcome their anxiety.
If you have ever experienced anxiety, you will know what I am referring to- that horrible feeling in the pit of your stomach, that wave of panic, nausea and feeling of dry mouth. That sudden need to rush to the loo. Your heart rate increases, palms sweat and you feel very uncomfortable. Perhaps you might even experience palpitations- thoughts of is this indigestion, anxiety or am I having a heart attack run through your mind. Anxiety is not fun for anyone.
For those of you reading this who are lucky enough not to have experienced anxiety you will know others that do because sadly it is that common.
Below I have listed out some tools and techniques you can try at home to help you to overcome your anxiety.
How to ground yourself amid an anxiety/panic attack
Holding an object. Holding an interesting object or a picture of loved ones in a frame can really help as it engages your sense of touch and eye sight. Feel the object in your hands, explore the textures and weight.
Bare feet on the ground. (NB: Not recommended in very deep snow!) Bare feet on the ground can help you re connect to the world around you and literally feel grounded.
Breathing 7/11. In for a count of 7 and out for 11, like you are blowing through a straw. The key to this simple technique is to make the outward breath longer than the inward breath.
Smell something nice. Engaging your senses can help. Smell your fav perfume or an essential oil.
Drink a cold glass of water/splash cold water on your face. Cold water is a bit of a shock to our systems and can really make us feel present in our bodies.
Create a grounding grab bag. Find a small bag or purse that you can easily take out and about with you or have on hand at home for when anxiety hits. Fill it with things that engage your senses e.g., a pack of mints or your favourite treat, a sample of your favourite perfume or aftershave/your partners perfume or aftershave. Something lovely or interesting to touch and hold perhaps a nice rock, a gem stone, or a shell. Something beautiful to look at- this could be the bag itself or perhaps a picture of your pet or loved one.
Longer-term self-help techniques
Mindfulness. Consciously try to be in the moment whilst doing any task- gardening, cooking, a hobby, reading with the kids whatever it is. Commit yourself fully to it, get lost in it and remove other distractions like the TV or your phone.
Meditation. Lots of guided meditations are available online if you are new to this. It's similar to mindfulness but rather than doing a task you lose yourself in your thinking. Its deeply relaxing.
Yoga. Lots of local classes take place, often online during Covid 19. There are many existing uploads to watch online too. With lots of different types of Yoga to try so there should be one out there to suit you even if your mobility happens to be extremely poor. You do not have to be fit or flexible to do yoga!
Self-care. Journaling, doing your hobby, a relaxing bath, a nap, reading a good book, watching your favourite film whatever works for you.
Talk. Talk to a friend, your GP, a relative, a trained professional. Talk it through and it will feel lighter. The more we talk the lighter we feel.
Take time each day to be thankful. Stop and think for 2 minutes of the things you are truly thankful for each day; this helps to remind us that even on the worst days there are some wonderful things in our lives. You can simply think these, share it with loved ones over the dinner table or at bed time or you can jot them all down in a gratuity book to refer back to whenever you need a boost.
Author: Gill Jackson of Gill Jackson Therapeutic Counselling, BA Hons Counselling, Diploma in Couples and Family Therapy, Diploma in EFT, Assoc. CIPD, SMACCPH
Bio: I am a Therapeutic Counsellor/Psychotherapist, Accredited Mentor and Trainer in private practice in the UK, qualified since 2007. Working with adults and young adults. I specialise in Anxiety Disorders and Depression.
This article is not intended as a replacement for medical advice, if you are suffering from any physical or mental ill health please seek advice of your Doctor where necessary.
Images used with permission from Wix and Unsplashed.