Anyone who is undergoing therapy or treatment for anxiety will know this, but for people around us this is what we need to do and why. If you can learn this, you may be able to help someone through an anxious moment.
When our minds start to spin out of control, we need to get outside of them. We need to come into the present and ground ourselves in our physical environment.
Grounding techniques can be quite simple and mean focusing on our five senses and not our panicked, irrational thoughts. We need to use our senses to:
SIGHT: Find 5 things that we can see
SOUND: Identify 4 sounds that we can hear
TOUCH: Reach for 3 things we can touch
SMELL: Find 2 things we can smell
TASTE: Find one thing that we can taste
Then take long, deep breaths and come back into the present.
Our doctors recommend we carry emergency grounding kits. It is usually quite easy to find five objects in our environment, look at them and focus for a moment; and not too difficult to locate and focus briefly on four different sounds. It is quite easy to carry three small items in our pockets or bags of varying textures. We can focus on the difference between each thing. Something smooth; something rough and something soft. A pebble or glass bead; a piece of sandpaper or a cut off piece of kitchen scourer; something rough or scratchy; a key; a small square of soft cloth; a few cotton wool balls; a piece of faux fur.
For smelling, we can all carry a handkerchief, can’t we? So we spray something onto the handkerchief. No-one is going to look at us strangely if we hold a hanky to our nose are they? So, I think I scented hanky is a good option. Perhaps a packet of strong smelling mints. You can taste and smell them and you won’t seem out of place.
If you need stronger items, use them. Different items work for different people.
Ice is extremely useful, but not something you can carry around so if you see someone struggling and ice is handy, say you are in a bar – pass them an ice cube to hold. Ask for a slice of lemon, grab a shaker of salt. It’s ok to bite into a slice of lemon, or taste a pinch of salt.
Having these kits can become a necessity. If you forget and are struggling in a crowded place, sniffing other people is not really an appropriate option – it is unlikely to be well received and your nose may not necessarily thank you for it either! 😊