Sweaty palms, racing thoughts, and a fast heart beat are all symptoms of an upcoming anxiety attack, and people with anxiety know panic attacks can be triggered without notice. The surrounding environment isn’t always an ideal place to excuse yourself to calm down. Here is the breakdown of a quick exercise that can help to stop an anxiety attack in 10 seconds without anyone noticing.
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5 Things You See
Start With The Ground
The first thing you want to notice is the floor beneath your feet. Looking at what your feet are touching is the first step of grounding yourself wherever you are.
Look At The Walls
Moving upward from the ground, you will want to look at the walls or surrounding space. Try to imagine a comfortable box of space you are in. Even if you are outside, you can imagine close boundaries to help with this “container” you are creating.
Find The Ceiling
To complete your personal container you will then find the ceiling, or space above you. Again, if you are outside, imagine the clouds, sky, or overhead tree as the ceiling of your container.
Check For The Exit
Once you have created your personal box that is holding you, keeping you safe, you will want to find the exit point. Whether this is a door, a sidewalk, an opening, the exit point is there just in case you need it.
Find A Focal Point
The final part of this portion of the exercise is to find an object that is directly within your focal point. A cup on the table, a tree in the distance, something behind someone’s head are all focal points you can use.
Make sure your focal point is found without moving your head. It should be something you can see straight ahead.
4 Things You Feel
Feel Your Feet Touching The Ground
Just as with your sense of sight, you will also want to begin with the floor. Pay attention to how your feet feel touching the earth because this is another way to ground yourself.
Pay Attention To Your Butt
Working your way up your body, you will want to pay attention to your tush. If you are sitting it is easy to pay attention to the sensation of your butt on the chair. If you are standing try to lean up against a wall, and touch your butt to it.
Hold Yourself With Your Back
Moving upward again, you will then want to feel with your back. If you are sitting, what does the back of the chair feel like? If you are standing, try to lean up against that wall.
Touch Your Hands To Your Thighs
Lastly, you are gong to touch your thighs. The muscles in your thighs are the largest in your body, and if you are a woman they are also the strongest. Make the connection to this part of your body by simply placing your hands on your lap, your touching your thighs while standing.
3 Things You Hear
Listen To Something In Your Immediate Area
What do you hear within a 3-foot radius of you? If you are in a quiet room, listen to the sound of your own breathing. If someone is talking near you, listen to the sound of their voice very closely.
Find A Noise Moderately Close
Once you have one noise that you can clearly hear, try to find a sound that’s a little farther away. Are there electronics buzzing? Can you hear someone else shifting in their seat?
Search For Noises In The Distance
The final sound too look for should be farther in the distance. Is someone in another room? Are there people outside? Is a dog barking? Listen closely to the faint sounds that normally would go in one ear and out the other.
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2 Things You Smell
Smell is such an interesting sense because it is the only sense that is fully developed when we are born. The sensory receptors in our brain are also very close to where we process memories. This is why certain perfumes or scents can immediately ignite past memories.
For this part of the exercise, take a deep breath and try to smell something near you. Do you smell a cup of coffee on the table? Air freshener? Someone’s body odor? Even certain rooms can have a subtle musty smell to them if you pay close enough attention.
While smell is a very strong sense, people assimilate to smells fairly quickly. This is why people don’t notice when they put on too much cologne, or become nose blind to odors in their home.
For this reason, creating a sensation of smell is often the easier than trying to track one down. To do this, you can keep something in your pocket or purse that has a strong smell such as an essential oil roller, or breath mint.
Just as with aromatherapy, the scent is used to bring a sense of ease. Scents such as lavender are typically very calming, and experiencing the smell of lavender can evoke a memory or feeling of comfort. It also is a great distraction and point of focus.
1 Thing You Taste
What’s The Last Thing You Ate?
Taste can be a sense that is turned off when we aren’t eating, but just as with every other sense, it is always there.
For your one thing of taste, think about the last thing you ate. Is the taste still lingering in your mouth? How about the cup of coffee from the morning? Even our own saliva can have a certain taste if we take the time to consciously perceive it.
Enjoy A New Taste
Just as with smell, creating the sensation of taste may be easier than trying to find it. Popping a breath mint, piece of gum, or even a lollipop will jumpstart your taste buds back into play.
Taste is mainly used as a distraction for the purpose of this exercise. Having something in your mouth with a strong flavor is easy to focus on, and can last several minutes, enough time to level yourself, and avoid an anxiety attack completely.
While reading the components of this exercise it may be hard to imagine how this can all be achieved in 10 seconds. Once you start to practice this, even without symptoms of an anxiety attack, you will see how it becomes more natural and automatic.
Ground yourself, create your container with an exit point, listen closely, breathe deep, and create a simple distraction (if needed).