I’m going to share with you grounding techniques that I use for anxiety and panic attacks. A lot of people have reached out to me, asking for help with these.
I talk below about different coping mechanisms I use, along with Better Help, which is online therapy that may be the start for therapy for you.
Grounding in the Present
When it comes to anxiety and panic attacks, the biggest thing is to bring you back to reality. Bringing yourself back to the present is critical because you are literally lost in your head and you’re not in the present.
Grounding techniques are designed to bring you back into the present. It can be trial and error to figure out what works for you, and that’s why I want to share a couple of different grounding tools.
In this technique, you list five things you can see, four you can touch, three you can hear, two you can smell, and one you can taste. This technique uses your senses to bring you back to reality. Focusing on your senses can work really well for some people, but it doesn’t usually work for me because I’m usually so amped up that I can’t even focus on what I need to be doing.
For this, breathe in for five seconds, breathe out for four seconds. I’ve noticed exercises like this help with both the anxiety attacks and the panic attacks. This will help me get my breathing under control. It will also help calm me down a little bit, so it is a great technique for you to try.
Another fantastic tool that most people have in their kitchens are things with strong smells. Fresh ground pepper has a very strong smell. If I am in a panic attack or an anxiety attack and I take a whiff of this, it hits my smell sense so strong that it helps bring me back into reality.
A lot of people also use lavender or peppermint essential oil, for the same reason. There are a lot of different smells out there. Test ones you think might help and find out what works for you.
Change in Body Temperature
My freezer is my go-to to save-all when I’m in an anxiety attack or panic attack. This works when I’m not able to actually jump into a cold shower and change my body temperature. I start rubbing ice on my head, on my neck, everywhere I can because the ice changes my body temperature very rapidly and it brings my brain back into the present.
This huge change in temperature makes a huge difference. It’s my go-to grounding technique now.
If I can’t jump into a shower, I can also fill a cold glass of water real quick. I take the water and pour it over my head.
When you’re shocking your system like this, you’re not hurting yourself, but you’re bringing yourself back into that reality, back into the present. You get done, and you think, I’m soaking wet here, not focused. Have to dry off.
Next thing you know, you realize that you are no longer in the midst of what you were just going through.
A lot of times, people will say, “Well, I don’t have ice. I’m driving. What do I do if I’m driving?” One of the things that you can do is carry limes and lemons with you. The reason I say to do this—and it doesn’t just have to be this, it’s anything that shocks your taste buds—is that biting into something very sour or bitter brings my head back into reality.
It gets my mind out of this prison that I created for it and brings it back to reality. If you don’t have the whole fruit, you can use lime or lemon juice to shock your senses back to reality.
As soon as you shift your brain focus from the anxiety or panic attack to the present, it helps end them extremely quickly. That’s why we use grounding for anxiety and panic attacks.
Again, these are all just trial and error. These are the ones that work for me. It’s different for everybody, so that’s why you really want to try and see what works for you and what’s out there for you. What works for me might not work for you. It’s a journey. It’s a road to go down to find out what tools work.