Anxiety Doesn’t Have To Control You

If you’ve ever experienced a panic or anxiety attack, then you know how difficult they can be. It feels all-encompassing, like you’re completely out of control.

But there are proven ways to regain a sense of control and quell the panic to rises, often seemingly out of nowhere.

One of the best ways to do this is a technique called Grounding. This means focusing on where you are in the present moment and allowing yourself to be, fully, wherever you are.

1. Acknowledge the anxiety.

In order to help release the hold anxiety can have on you, you must first acknowledge that it’s there. Most of us walk around unaware that we’re caught in anxiety’s web. Anxiety is great at “tricking” you into believing something is real. So all these fear-based thoughts you are having are simply that: thoughts. Thoughts aren’t real. Thoughts aren’t happening. If I remind myself that my thoughts are “the anxiety” doing its work, it helps me detach from the fear. I know it’s not real.

2. Start with your breath.

Have you noticed that when you get anxious, your whole body tenses up and your breath moves from deep and calming, to shallow and light? This kind of shallow breathing keeps the anxiety alive in your body. If the body can’t relax, neither can the mind. Take deep, full breaths all the way down into your belly. Breathe in through your nose and as you exhale through your mouth, make your exhale longer than your inhale. This deep breathing signals the body to relax and helps calm your mind and spirit.

3. Connect to your body.

Movement is one of the most amazing ways to get into your body. When you’re stuck running in circles on the hamster wheel in your head, nothing grounds you more than moving your body. So get up and get moving. Yoga, running or walking — or my personal favorite, a one-minute dance party — all can you out of the fear of an uncertain future and put you directly in the present moment, the only place worth being.
– via mindbodygreen

Grounding Is Different For Everyone

There are some techniques that are universally taught – like connecting with your body. But how this manifests could be slightly different for each person.

For some, focusing on what they can smell, even naming each thing they can smell in the air, is incredibly calming. For others, a simply task like sipping water and following as it flows through your mouth, down your throat, feeling it settle in your stomach, is the perfect way to calm your mind and regain control.

Here are a few things to remember about what to do and not do when learning about grounding yourself to control your anxiety.

Do ground yourself

Grounding yourself in a concrete task is helpful to distract the mind from your racing negative thoughts. Grounding deescalates your symptoms via healthy diversion. For example, run your fingers along the teeth of your house keys, or hold an ice-cube in your hand for as long as you can, then switch to your other hand. You can also engage in a chore, like cleaning or tidying up your home, anything to keep your mind focused on something else.

Do use “thought replacement”exercises

Identifying your negative thoughts and then replacing them with rational ones also works to deescalate the severity of our symptoms. It’s a process of learning to be more reflective than reactive. Reflecting instead of reacting switches your mind from being a victim of your thoughts to being an observer of your thoughts. It takes some practice but in the end, it helps a great deal.

Do educate yourself on the anatomy of a panic attack

Learning why you are having symptoms helps a lot too. Read up on the flight, flight or freeze response system that all living organisms have. It’s an adaptive function placed there by God, the universe, evolution, etc., to protect the body from harm. The more you learn about how anxiety is not fatal and does not cause people to go crazy is very important to know. The more you understand about your condition, the better you will feel.

Do not believe everything you think

In the midst of a panic attack, don’t assume that what you are thinking is actually true. Panic attacks cause catastrophic thinking which means your thoughts are most likely irrational and out of proportion to reality in the moment. And, although they sometimes say, “trust your gut”, with a panic attack, it is not a good idea. Also, don’t put so much importance on your thoughts. Just because you are having a thought, any thought, does not mean you have to pay attention to it. Thoughts are random and sometimes insignificant.

Do not fight it

Don’t assume that resisting and fighting your condition is going to help. Don’t assume that a panic attack leads to fainting or losing control of yourself. Don’t assume it will lead to psychosis or “going crazy.” And, don’t assume that it will cause a heart attack or some other serious illness. Typically, panic attacks are caused by an excess of adrenaline and other natural chemicals in the body. Symptoms of panic attacks are not fatal and they don’t lead to “losing your mind.”

Do not stigmatize yourself

Don’t call yourself weak or inferior because you are suffering from panic attacks. Don’t tell yourself you should be “handling” this better. Or that “a stronger person” wouldn’t have this problem. Anxiety disorders are real, legitimate conditions that must be reckoned with. The more you see yourself as a failure because you are suffering, the worse you will feel in the long run.
– via ExpertBeacon

Have you ever struggled with panic attacks? Have you tried grounding to help relieve the anxiety?