The grounding technique that helps me when I'm anxious
When we are feeling very anxious, it can help us to have tools or techniques we can use to calm ourselves down. Kerry, 16, shares the grounding technique that helps her when she's having a panic attack.
During an anxious period of time or a panic attack, I have found that I tend to start feeling very disconnected from everyone else. My thoughts can start racing at a mile a minute. Sometimes it can feel like I’m stuck in slow motion, or that everything is in fast forward. Everything seems to get much louder and out of focus. In my brain everyone is judging me, even when the likelihood is that no one has even noticed. Sometimes I try to talk, but can feel my voice running away from me, or my words. Before I know it, the whole world feels as though it has fallen into chaos, and yet I’m the only one who’s noticed.
Anxiety has a way of isolating you, trapping you in your own mind and making you feel like there’s no way out. For a very long time, I hated letting anyone know what was going on, and unsurprisingly, this normally meant that the chaos in my mind never really went away. I was always scared of being seen as a burden, or too much work. This was until I found support from my school, who were determined to never let me feel that way.
Together we tried many different things:
- Square breathing – this is where you breathe in for four seconds, hold for four seconds, breathe out for four seconds, hold for four seconds and repeat.
- Just chatting - taking your mind off of the worry is a lot easier than you’d think sometimes.
- Going through my senses – to do this, name five things you can see, four things you can touch, three things you can hear, two things you can smell and one thing you can taste.
These things all helped, but I personally found that they were just a distraction until the panic passed. On some days, that’s all I felt like I could do and it helped. But the best grounding technique I found was taught to me by a teacher when I was in a full-blown panic attack and helped me to snap out of my anxious thinking. It’s called the alphabet game.
The alphabet game
The alphabet game is where you name something for every letter of the alphabet within any category of subject. This could be animals, people’s names, foods etc.
I had never found something that had me back to thinking logically and calmly so fast. Now it is definitely my go-to exercise for anxious days (mine, or other people’s). This isn’t an instant fix by any means, and everyone will have different experiences, but it’s an excellent grounding technique to get your brain switched back from the fear and panic that has thrown all rationality out the window.
The main thing I learnt, however, is the importance of letting people in. If I hadn’t let the people around me help, I don’t know if things would have ever gotten better, and I’m not sure if I’d know everything I do know about looking after myself and others.
If you’re struggling, give these a try, but also please talk to someone responsible that you trust! The awful feelings will pass and good days will come. You can do it!
Author: Kerry, 16
Where to get help
For more information, tips on coping and suggestions of where you can go to get help for anxiety or panic attacks, have a look at our page on anxiety.