The year 2020 might go down in history as synonymous with anxiety. The uncertainty never seems to end, and even folks formerly known for their calming presence are starting to grow agitated.
What can you do to center yourself when feeling overwhelmed? These 12 grounding techniques can help ease that panic-mode feeling and leave you feeling confident and ready to conquer the day.
1. Lay Hands on Your Heart and Belly
Anxiety seldom results from current circumstances but rather from fear of an unknown future, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine. It’s natural to doubt your ability to cope when a potential job loss or severe illness looms.
If your stress comes from thinking about “what ifs,” try to remind yourself that what you fear most isn’t happening right now. The next time your heart races and palms sweat, place one hand in the center of your chest and the other on your belly. Feel your chest and stomach rise as you inhale, and mentally repeat, “Right here, right now, I am safe.” As you exhale, silently say, “Relax.”
2. 2-to-1 Breathing
When you panic, your breathing grows shallow and rapid. By controlling it, you can activate the mechanisms in your body that induce calm.
Learn how to practice 2-to-1 breathing to activate your parasympathetic nervous system — the half that relaxes you after escaping an angry bear. All you have to do is inhale deeply, pause, then exhale for twice as long as you drew breath. Repeat until your stress is somewhat eased.
3. Stroke Your Fingers
Your hands have many acupuncture and acupressure points. Activating these may help you to relax. Plus, the sensation of touch reminds you to stay in the present moment.
Take the fingers of your left hand and slowly stroke each finger on the right. Then, switch sides. You can do this action discreetly under the table if a work conference grows heated.
4. Perform a Sun Salutation
Anyone can harness the power of yoga to relax. You don’t have to go on a weekend retreat — although if you can swing the cost of the trip, why not?
Find a place where you can marry breath and movement — yogis call this a vinyasa. Start by standing in mountain pose, then raise your hands overhead as you stretch. Bend forward to touch your toes (or come close), and then step or hop back into plank. Follow an upward-facing dog with a downward-facing dog and return to standing.
5. Do a Body Scan
You can do a body scan anywhere. If your chronic pain gets worse when anxiety hits, this technique can ease the ache.
Close your eyes and focus your awareness on your breath. Then, starting at your toes, focus on each part of your body as you work your way up to the top of your head. Pause to breathe and focus energy into any tight areas.
6. Go for a Stroll
You can use your 15-minute break to take a mindfulness walk instead of scrolling through social media. Doing so can ease anxiety attacks.
As you walk, pay attention to the way your body feels as your feet hit the pavement. Observe the world around you. What do you see, taste and smell?
7. Kick Off Your Shoes
The ultimate grounding exercise might be, well, grounding! Practitioners believe that electrical charges from the earth can restore physical and mental health.
Find a grassy area and take off your socks and shoes. Dig your toes into the earth, and pause while you listen to the sound of birdsong as you recharge your batteries.
8. Snack Mindfully
You don’t have to take 20 minutes to eat a raisin, but mindful eating can calm anxiety — and help you shed unwanted pounds. If you graze while working or watching TV, you could consume tons of calories without realizing it.
Instead, take a small piece of chocolate. Nibble and sniff it before popping it in your mouth and savoring it as it dissolves on your tongue.
9. Color a Picture
Coloring centers you in the moment and lets you create a thing of beauty. You don’t need a lick of artistic ability to stay within the lines.
Pick up one of the many adult coloring books flooding the market today. Keep one in your backpack, along with some markers or crayons to ease anxiety.
10. Practice Origami
Keeping your hands busy can prevent your mind from racing. Why not learn origami? You don’t need any special tools outside of paper to create hearts, boats and cranes. As you get more adept at your craft, you can invest in specialty-colored pads that make intriguing designs.
11. Play With Your Pet
Does your boss allow you to take your pet to work? Maybe you telecommute, and Fido lies at your feet while you balance budget reports.
Playing with your pet can take your mind away from future fears and return you to the present. Plus, your kitty or pup offers unconditional love, which improves anyone’s mood.
You might not feel like smiling when the world threatens to crash down on you. However, research indicates that doing so can trick your brain into a better mood.
According to Dr. Isha Gupta, a neurologist with IGEA Brain and Spine, showing your pearlies in a grin increases the flow of dopamine and serotonin. These neurotransmitters make you feel better and reduce the panic response.
Use These 12 Grounding Techniques When Anxiety Attacks Strike
2020 might be the year of high anxiety. However, you can use the 12 grounding techniques above to stay calm amid the chaos.