There’s a lot to be anxious about nowadays. The Coronavirus has people on high alert. My wife rushed out to the grocery store this morning to make sure our cupboards were stocked. The stock market is heading in the wrong direction and people are worried about their retirement accounts. There are travel restrictions everywhere. People are feeling the need to protect themselves. If you struggle with anxiety, this has probably been a really difficult time.
What are some ways we can help ourselves when we start to feel overwhelmed with anxiety or panic? One thing that has been helpful for me is an exercise called grounding.
Grounding and Electricity
The idea of grounding yourself comes from electricity. In an electrical circuit, there is an active wire, which supplies the power, and a neutral wire, which carries the current back. An additional grounding wire can be attached to your outlets and other electrical devices, which is securely connected to the ground at the breaker box. The ground wire is an additional path for electrical current to return safely to the ground in the event of a short circuit.
In the same way, grounding yourself reinforces the connection between your body and the Earth. The goal is to recognize that even though you might be experiencing a high level of anxiety and panic right now, you’re still here, connected to the Earth in your physical body. The feelings or sensations you are experiencing may not be pleasant, but you aren’t going anywhere, and you aren’t going to die. This too shall pass.
Here is one way to ground yourself when you are feeling anxious:
- Sit down on a chair. Sit comfortably with your feet flat on the ground, your back against the back of the chair, and your arms on the armrest of the chair.
- Focus on your feet. Press your feet down into the ground. Focus all your energy on the experience of your feet pressed firmly into the ground. Stay with this focus on your feet for about one minute.
- Focus on your butt. Experience your butt pressed firmly into the chair you are sitting on. Feel yourself firmly rooted on the chair, not going anywhere. Stay with this focus on your butt for about one minute.
- Focus on your back. Experience your back pressed firmly into the back of the chair. Press against the back of the chair, and feel how sturdy the chair is. Stay with this focus on your back for about one minute.
- Focus on your arms. Press your arms down into the armrest of the chair. Focus all your energy on your arms pressing down into the armrest. Stay with this focus on your arms for about one minute.
- Check in with yourself about how you are feeling. How is your level of anxiety and panic? If your mind is still racing, and you still feel a high level of anxiety, cycle through the grounding steps again, focusing your energy on your feet, butt, back, and arms. If you’re feeling more calm after the grounding experience, take a minute to experience gratitude for being grounded, and move on to the rest of your day.
What did you think of the grounding exercise? Did it help you reduce your level of anxiety or panic to a more manageable level? What is your go-to strategy when you are struggling with anxiety or panic?