*COPING TOOL*: Manage your anxiety so that it doesn't manage you.
Updated: Aug 3, 2022
What if I told you that anxiety can be helpful? Seriously.
Ever get butterflies in your stomach before pitching your idea at work or spend hours on a project because you wanted it to be *just right*? Once those things are over, that anxious emotion is much easier to keep in check. I'm going to share my favorite tip for managing anxiety below.
(This skill shouldn't be a replacement for assistance from a mental health or medical professional.)
Grounding is a skill that allows you to stay in the present, rather than in an anxious state that is keeping you in the past or propelling you in the present. My favorite type is called 5-4-3-2-1 grounding.
Start by finding yourself a quiet place. Take a deep breath and rank your anxiety on a 0-10 scale with 0=no anxiety and 10=the worst it could be. Then review the directions below.
5-Identify five things that you see.
Describe what they look like, in as many details as you can provide. What specifically do you see? What shapes? What colors? What size?
Insider tip: Look for things that are relatively simple with 1-2 colors. Also, describing these out loud tends to be more helpful than silently doing this activity.
4-Identify four things that you can touch.
Instead of describing what they look like, touch them and describe what they feel like. What's the texture? The temperature? The weight? The more details, the better!
3-Things you can smell.
Again, as many details as possible. Our sense of smell is thought to be our most powerful sense that relates to memory. Be creative! Does your clothing have the smell of detergent? What about your hair or body wash?
Insider tip": carry something with you that you like the smell of. It could be gum, an essential oil, lotion, etc.
2- Things you can hear.
Identify it and describe it. How loud is it? Is it a pleasurable sound to you?
1- A thing you can taste
If you don't have access to anything, you can imagine something you like to eat and describe what it's like to taste it!
Check back in and rank your anxiety again. We aren't looking for perfection, we are looking for improvement. So, if you started at a "6", and noticed that you are now at a 5.9999999999, that's a change in the right direction. Practice this skill daily (or multiple times a day if you want) if it is helpful and resonates with you.
Anxiety is an emotion that everyone experiences at times. Unfortunately, anxiety can also be a symptom of a health condition, like generalized anxiety disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder or trauma and related stressor disorders. You can get more information about these from your doctor, or websites like www.anxiety.org . If you are struggling to manage your anxiety, please talk to a medical professional.