By: Sara Smith, BSW
Anxiety is something most, if not all of us have experienced more frequently over the past few years. Anxiety can be triggered by a variety of situations and is often experienced as a feeling of worry, nervousness or unease. We can’t always control situations that are making us feel anxious, but we can learn skills to cope with our anxiety. Skills can help lessen the intensity and frequency of our anxiety and can minimize the impact that our anxiety has on our mental and physical health. This five-step exercise can be very helpful during periods of anxiety or panic by helping to ground you in the present when your mind is bouncing around between various anxious thoughts.
Before starting this exercise, pay attention to your breathing. Slow, deep, long breaths can help you maintain a sense of calm or help you return to a calmer state. Once you find your breath, go through the following steps to help ground yourself:
5: Acknowledge FIVE things you see around you. It could be a pen, a spot on the ceiling, anything in your surroundings.
4: Acknowledge FOUR things you can touch around you. It could be your hair, a pillow, or the ground under your feet.
3: Acknowledge THREE things you hear. This could be any external sound. If you can hear your belly rumbling that counts! Focus on things you can hear outside of your body.
2: Acknowledge TWO things you can smell. Maybe you are in your office and smell pencil, or maybe you are in your bedroom and smell a pillow. If you need to take a brief walk to find a scent you could smell soap in your bathroom, or nature outside.
1: Acknowledge ONE thing you can taste. What does the inside of your mouth taste like—gum, coffee, or the sandwich from lunch?
This technique is one of many options you could use if you are feeling anxious or overwhelmed. If anxiety is something that you struggle with regularly, and you continue to have trouble refocusing or coping with these feelings, please talk to your doctor or contact Behavioral Health Partners at (585) 276-6900. Behavioral Health Partners is brought to you by Well-U, offering eligible individuals mental health services for stress, anxiety, and depression.