Feeling Flighty? Get Grounded


Butterflies in your stomach, feeling sick,  dry mouth, quickened breathing, sweating? Sound familiar?  Well if it does you are not alone.

Anxiety can be felt by anyone. In fact most recent statistics indicate that there were 8.2 million cases of anxiety in the UK (Mental Health Foundation 2013) and thats just those officially recorded.  Globally the second most prevelent mental health issue was anxiety (depression being the first – will come to that in another blog) Global Burden of Disease 2013.  As therapists, anxiety is something we work with a lot. Helping clients understand what anxiety is and how it effects them is important in coping with anxiety.  A technique we teach to clients to help manage anxiety is Grounding, its really simple and very effective, a great tool to have up your sleeve.

So what is anxiety?
Basically anxiety is a primeval survival mechanism that alerts us to danger and helps us to deal with emergencies by preparing  the body to “fight” or “flee” and is commonly known as the “fight / flight” response.  Anxiety is what we can feel when are worried or afraid and is often linked to thoughts about things we think may happen immediately in a situation or things we think might happen in the future.  Feeling anxious isn’t nice and for some it can be overwhelming and very frightening.  Panic attacks are an extreme anxiety reaction are can be completly debilitating for the person experiencing them.

Triggers and symptoms
Anxiety and triggers can be as unique as the person experiencing them.   There are however some common triggers that can influence anxiety difficulties  – childhood difficulties such as experiencing a loss or separation, past experiences such as bullying or social exclusion.  Current life stressors including financial problems, work pressures, exhaustion or being out of work.  Physical illness such as living with a serious health condition or mental health problems  such a depression can trigger anxiety as can taking certain drugs or medications.  Typical symptoms include fast heart rate, sweating and hot flushes, nausea, pins and needles,  trouble sleeping,  jaw clenching and headaches and other body pains.

Grounding for anxiety
Grounding can be done at anytime, anywhere.  You can ground standing, sitting or laying down.  When you feel yourself becomming anxious – heart racing, feeling hot, racing thoughts………follow the steps described below and tame your anxiety.

1  STOP .  You can say Stop in your head, out loud, see a stop sign etc – whatever works for you.  You can literally stop what you are doing and stand with both feet on the ground, if you are sitting put both feet on the ground.

2  BREATHE.  In through your nose and out through your mouth at a steady pace (if you need too, count in your head to  3 for breaths in and then the same for breaths out).  Really focus on the feel and the sound of your breath, take all your focus to it.  Do this 3 – 4 times or for as long as you feel you need to.  This can be sufficient in helping to calm you down and refocus, however, you can also do step three too.

3  FOCUS YOUR ATTENTION.  Keep your breathing steady  and focus your mind , try any of the following…

* take your attention to your toes / feet, feel them in your shoes or on the floor, wiggle your toes
* carry a small item with you in your pocket like a pebble or cyrstal and focus your attention on it, the shape, texture, temperature etc
* look around you and focus on something and really study it, like a picture, flowers, a sign. Break them down and focus on the colours, shapes, items etc
* what can you hear? focus on the birds singing or the rain pit pating, or focus on your breath
* as you breathe in and out just allow your self to slow down or have a soothing mantra to use such as ” I am able to “cope”  or “This will pass”

Allow yourself to just be in this space for as long as feel comfortable and then gently open your eyes and smile.  Great stuff. Now go and enjoy your day!

For more information on anxiety visit our downloads page at humansense.online