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Grounding yourself: quick techniques for calming anxiety, panic, flashbacks and challenging emotions

We all can fall victim to having a bout of anxiety or panic surrounding challenging emotions. Which is why it’s important that, if we do become aware that we’re undergoing a panic or anxiety attack, we have some useful tools available to us in our arsenal to resolve the situation.

First of all, what do we mean by being grounded?

Well, if we use the analogy that our body is an electrical circuit, then it’s possible that we can have too much positive charge which causes us to feel anxious and possibly panicked and we need to reduce the excess charge i.e getting our body back in balance with positive and negative flows in order to establish an equilibrium.

How to ground yourself

So how do we go about doing this?

Here are some simple and practical tips:

1. Becoming aware of the present moment, body scan:

This can be one of the easiest or one of the hardest simultaneously. It’s easy because it’s so simple and if we are anxious then the option of doing a quick body scan and becoming “present” is an easy enough task to carry out.

However, it’s hard because if we are panicking then the last thing we want to do is confront that emotion as it feels so uncomfortable. But, the fact is, by bringing our conscious attention to the area of our body that feels the most uncomfortable and confronting these anxious emotions it can help to start the process of emotional clearing needed in order to re-establish an equilibrium in the body.

So by simply closing your eyes and “feeling into the area of anxiety” we can start to dissipate its effects by allowing it to naturally arise and be dealt with.

The more we become conscious and aware of these uncomfortable emotions, the more we are able to deal with them appropriately and allow them to be felt and then naturally pass of their own accord once they’ve been adequately processed.

2. Breath-work, breathing into the emotions

Going deeper into the idea of becoming present to the uncomfortable emotions is the idea of “breath work”.

If you find that the emotions are just too uncomfortable to sit with and give your present attention to because you just want to escape them, then it can be very useful to start focusing on the breath.

Just close your eyes and take a deep breath in counting to one, and then a deep breath out counting to two. Continue this until you count sixty breaths (so thirty inhalations and thirty exhalations) then you can reassess how much these anxious emotions are affecting you.

Ideally, you will find that the act of focusing on the breath and counting your inhalations and exhalations helps you centre your consciousness, but you will still have enough distance with the uncomfortable feelings that are arising. So breath work acts as a good go between because you aren’t directly focusing on the uncomfortable emotions.

You can continue this for 5 to 10 minutes perhaps, until you feel that some of the anxiety has left you and you’re beginning to feel more grounded.

3. Physical Exertion / Workout

Whilst the first two techniques for becoming more calm, focus more on a meditation / mindfulness approach, the third is all about embracing your physicality and that is why a good workout, jog, hike or run can help you relieve yourself of a lot of the anxious feelings that bother you.

There’s a reason why people who are feeling highly strung or “charged” like to get down the gym or at least just get out of the house and go for a run. All that pent up emotional energy can build and often there is no better way to get rid of that excess than exerting yourself physically whether it be getting down the gym and lifting some weights, going for a long bike ride or really just running it off.

It’s no surprise that a lot of people who are drawn to doing marathons or Iron Man competitions for example, are said to have a lot of deep work they need to do physically, spiritually, and emotionally.

That’s not to say you have to sign up for the next marathon, but just consider getting some physical exposure in order to exercise some of your demons.

4. Switching up your diet