- Posted by Jon Harju
- On October 8, 2020
As common as anxiety was prior to the COVID19 pandemic (about 1 in 4 Canadians at some point in their lives experienced anxiety), now, more than ever, individuals are experiencing feelings of stress, anxiety, and being overwhelmed. Anxiety can be triggered in many different ways in this new world we’re living in; concerns about attending appointments, meetings, or even grocery shopping, navigating around social functions while still maintaining physical distancing guidelines, obsessive thoughts about sanitizing or washing our hands or not touching our face, or monitoring the number of cases in your area each day. Fortunately for those who experience the discomfort of anxiety, grounding techniques exist to eliminate or lessen the effects of the symptoms. Anxiety is often expressed as concerns regarding future events, grounding helps to bring the focus back to the present moment. There are many forms of grounding techniques and not every technique will work for every person; however, if one solution does not work for you, do not be afraid to try out another, or develop your own technique that helps you refocus in an anxious situation.
In this method, individuals are asked to combine slow breathing and recognizing their environment. Take a deep breath in for 5 seconds and then exhale for 5 seconds. Once your breath has been regulated, take the time to acknowledge 5 things around you that you can see, 4 things that you can feel, 3 things that you can hear, 2 things you can smell, and 1 thing you can taste. A great thing about this technique is it can be done anywhere- whether you need to calm yourself down in your car before doing your weekly grocery shop or if you’re feeling anxious in the middle of a Zoom work meeting.
An example of this in a shopping scenario may look like this:
Deep breath in
Deep breath out
See – steering wheel, bus, clouds, grocery store, wallet
Feel – wedding ring, sweater sleeves, denim jeans, key chain
Hear – radio, watch ticking, rain falling on your car
Smell – air freshener, perfume
Taste – minty gum
This method of grounding is very helpful when you are suffering from panic attacks or simply beginning to feel overwhelmed in any situation. It can be especially helpful if you’re feeling overwhelmed with your face mask on for long periods of time. Regulating your breath is extremely helpful in overcoming the uncomfortable physical symptoms that often accompany anxiety and worry. In this method, you will be matching your breathing to the movement of your finger.
Place your finger in the center of your chest
Start taking a slow, deep breath and begin tracing a square on your chest
Aim to finish drawing the square at the end of your breath. This should take about 10-15 seconds.
Repeat this movement and breath cycle about 20 times until your breathing has been regulated.
A variation of this technique is to match your breathing with something moving slowly and steadily. This resource is a great starting point for anyone who needs to slow their breathing during a panic attack or episode.
This method of grounding challenges you to recall as many objects in a category as possible. The aim is to reorient yourself back to the present moment and suppress any negative emotions or memories that are trying to push their way into your thoughts. For example:
List as many dog breeds as you can
Name as many countries as you can
List all of the streets nearby that you can
List as many colours as you can
Grounding techniques are great tools to have when you experience anxious thoughts or feelings. Knowing that you’re not alone in this pandemic is very important, as is preparing yourself with the tools to combat those feelings of anxiety and worry that can interfere with your day.
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