Try This The Next Time You Feel Anxious


Article by Paige Fitzgerald

Photography by Pixabay

Let’s talk about anxiety. For all my life, I have been a worrier. An over-thinker and an over-planner of hypothetical situations and outcomes that, most of the time, were completely unnecessary. Because of those things, I’m also a person who frequently experiences anxiety. And I know I’m not alone. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 40 million adults in the U.S. have some type of anxiety disorder. That’s 18% of the population!

But just knowing that you’re not alone in this won’t necessarily make dealing with your anxiety any easier. I get that, so here’s something that potentially could. It’s a mindfulness technique called 5-4-3-2-1 Grounding (or simply, Grounding).

I came upon Grounding randomly while scrolling through Tumblr one night (a night where I was too anxious to sleep, naturally). The post caught my eye because of all the comments it had with people claiming they had tried it and it helped them. So I looked into it myself and it turned out this grounding technique is a real thing that is often used to help people with PTSD (a disorder that often includes high levels of anxiety).

How to Do 5-4-3-2-1 Grounding

  • Take 5 focused breaths, focusing on a deep inhale and a slow exhale
  • List 5 things you can see
  • List 4 things you can touch
  • List 3 things you can hear
  • List 2 things you can smell
  • List one thing you can taste

And that’s it! You can recite this list out loud or in your head, depending on where you are in the moment. The beauty of this technique is that it can be done anywhere. You could be driving solo in your car or in the middle of a crowded room and still be able to do this. Its effectiveness comes from pulling your mind back into the present moment by concentrating on each one of your senses.

As someone who finds it hard to be in the present moment and constantly worries about the future, this is a technique that is helpful to me and I use it often. I can’t promise that it will work for you, but it might be worth a try.

If you are frequently overwhelmed by your anxiety and feel like it is negatively impacting your life, therapy is also an option that could be helpful to you. Your physician can be a reliable person to reach out to for a referral and to answer any questions you might have about what type of therapist might be right for you.

If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts, you should get help immediately by calling the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 800-273-8255.

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