Here are a couple of simple mindfulness exercises or “techniques” to help “ground” someone who is struggling with either anxiety, panic, stress, or frustration. This can be something you can do for someone you care about who is obviously struggling. Or it can be something that you do by reading these instructions for yourself. These exercises can also be used as a way to calm yourself or another person, regardless of your (or their) mental health.
The 5-4-3-2-1 method
Simply take a few deep breaths … breathing in through your nose … and then out through your mouth … in through your nose … and then out through your mouth. Then, while you continue to do so, gradually try to list the following, using all your senses:
👀 5 things you can see:
For example, the table in front of you, the nice painting on the wall, the fridge magnet that your daughter made, the clear blue sky outside, and the leafy tree across the road.
👆 4 things you can feel:
Once you’ve gotten in touch with five things you can see, then – while you continue breathing in through your nose, and out through your mouth. Try to bring awareness to four things you can feel. For example, the chair that’s holding your weight, your dress against your legs, the soft carpet beneath your feet, or a loose strand of hair brushing your face. It can be what you expect things to feel like rather than exactly what you are experiencing at that moment
👂 3 things you can hear:
Next, listen carefully to three things you can hear. For example, the ticking of a clock, a bird chirping outside, or the sound of your children playing in their bedroom, even your own breathing …
👃 2 things you can smell:
Then, try to get in touch with two things you can smell. If you try but don’t find yourself able to smell anything, then try thinking of your two favourite smells. For example, the scent of freshly cut grass, or the aroma of a steaming mug of hot chocolate.
❤️ 1 thing you can taste:
Lastly, remember the last taste you experienced, or a favourite flavour. Think of how it feels in your mouth, and how it makes you feel.
This exercise only takes a few minutes, but it’s really effective in creating separation between any negative thoughts and emotions, therefore calming the situation.
|In fact, it’s such a helpful mindfulness strategy that in 2018 it went viral – being shared over 1.5 MILLION times on Facebook!|
Play a Game
You could get your, or someone you care about, mind off an anxiety or panic attack by playing a quick game. Ask a question that has several answers:
- Name as many countries as you can
- Name as many dog breeds as you can
- Name as many colours as you can (or shades of a particular colour)
- Recite the alphabet backwards
- Practice simple times tables
- How many things can you say that are yellow/blue/green etc
You may find that you respond better to some questions than others, but the idea is to make yourself think about something other than anxiety. All grounding methods for anxiety attacks are mind over matter, but they do work.
There are many mindfulness and grounding exercises you can find – whole books are dedicated to the subject, as are many websites and forums.