Calming the mind while in a state of panic is a useful skill to develop, and attainable with consistent practice. When you are feeling distressed and overwhelmed, you can redirect your attention to the present by grounding yourself.
The techniques I’ve compiled are meant to manage high levels of anxiety. You can practice some of these different grounding tips and determine what works best for you.
10 Grounding Tips to Ease Anxiety and Stress:
Focus on your breathing and take it slow. Remember to inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth. Feel your stomach inflate as you slowly breathe in, while counting to five. Feel your stomach deflate as you breathe out slowly, counting to five. Repeat at least five times. It is helpful to place your hands on your belly, so that you may feel the inhale and exhale and internalize its calming effect.
Splash COLD water on your face.
Use an ice-cold compress and place it on the back of your neck or on your forehead. Temperature change can prompt a shift in the mind. If cold water is not for you, try taking a warm shower.
Keep a rubber band or hair tie around your wrist.
Pluck it and feel the sensation as it reaches your skin. This will bring your attention to the present. Remind yourself that you are safe and can seek safety.
Rub your palms or grip your hands together.
Take notice of your hands. How do they feel? Are they hot or cold? Hold a comforting object, something soft or smooth. Fully engage in your sense of touch, this will redirect your attention to the present, and distract you from the emotional pain.
Sit down and cross your arms and legs.
This will help you feel the sensation of taking hold of your body. You are in control of your body.
Find a space that soothes you.
Once you discover it, either physically or in your mind, you can return again and again. Take notice of this comforting place. Who or what, do you see or hear? Engage your senses, slowly. If you enjoy the outdoors, breathe in the fresh air, take note of the different odors in your surroundings, feel the elements in your immediate environment.
Go for a walk, but only if you feel safe doing so.
Notice your surroundings and pay close attention to the details around you. Redirect your attention to the present. For example, count the homes you pass and notice their color, architecture and their lawns.
Listen to familiar and comforting music.
Sing along or recite the lyrics. The key is to change your mental state to an activity that distracts and redirects your attention.
Reach out to someone who is supportive.
A calming and reassuring voice can ease panic within minutes.
Personalize your own grounding toolbox.
Decorate the outside and keep grounding objects and proactive coping reminders inside. For example, you may place a particular scent inside your grounding box that soothes, a picture of a calming presence in your life, a list of positive affirmations, magazine cutouts that have inspiring messages, and reminders of some of the techniques listed above.
Through repeated practice, you will learn how to redirect your attention to the present and ground yourself during a distressing emotional state. Slowly, you will feel better and return to your natural baseline. Keep in mind; grounding skills must be practiced when calm or slightly distressed so that you can rely on them with confidence when in a state of panic.