Most everyone has experienced it at least once – that feeling of worry, uneasiness, racing thoughts and dreaded “what if’s”. Life tosses all kinds of things our way that make even the calmest person stressed out. If you experience bouts of anxiety, you know that they can sometimes arise in the most random places and at the most inconvenient times. You won’t always be able to stop, sit down and spend the next 20 minutes doing that box breathing that works so well. And you know that if left unchecked, that feeling of uneasiness can quickly escalate.
The good news is, managing your anxiety on the go is possible. Here, your Atlanta anxiety counselor shares a popular technique that can help ground you and bring that level of anxiety down when it feels like your mind is reeling. And the best part is, no one has to know you’re doing it.
When Anxiety Strikes – More Info From an Atlanta Anxiety Counselor
An anxiety attack can come on seemingly out of nowhere. Sometimes, you have those warning signs that the anxiety is rising. And, it can happen almost anywhere. Having a strategy or two that you can use when needed can help you feel more confident when anxiety decides to show up. There are things you can do and ways you can check your anxiety to maybe even prevent a full-on anxiety attack. Granted, there are other suggestions for really working to decrease or overcome anxiety (including ERP therapy), but this post is intended to share quick techniques that can assist in the moment. Don’t forget though that if you struggle with anxiety, seeing an Atlanta anxiety counselor who understands anxiety treatment and is trained can be highly beneficial.
Back to the technique. A helpful approach to managing your anxiety is to keep it from rolling. When your anxiety starts, your thoughts inevitably turn to your anxiety, the “oh my gosh, here it comes” and the “what ifs”. One thing we know about anxiety is if you can slow your breathing and control your thinking, you can often stave off an anxiety attack.
Add This to Your Anxiety Toolbox
The 5-4-3-2-1 technique has been around a long time. Essentially it is a grounding technique that helps you find your breath and moves your attention away from the anxiety-thinking, interrupting the anxiety cycle. It’s a strategy you can use virtually anytime you need to. It’s discreet and easy to learn. You want this one in your toolbox.
Try the 5-4-3-2-1
Before you begin, do a quick breath check. Take some slow deep breaths. If it helps to focus or calm you, place a hand on your belly and feel your belly rise and fall as you breathe slowly in and out. Find your breath and follow the steps below.
Look around where you are for the following things:
Identify FIVE things that you see. It might be a design on the carpet, a mark on the wall…anything that is in your immediate vicinity.
Identify FOUR things that you can touch. It might be a pen in your hand, the seat cushion, the chair arm, even the carpet you’re standing on.
Identify THREE things you hear. Listen closely to your surroundings. What do you hear?
Identify TWO things you can smell. This might vary widely depending on where you are. If you’re inside, can you smell air freshener or the candle on the end table? Maybe you’re outside, can you smell the air or a flower nearby?
Identify ONE thing that you can taste. Maybe you’re chewing gum or drinking coffee. Is that a candy dish on the desk?
Don’t get too caught up in doing it perfectly. The goal is really to block the anxiety cycle by focusing on something else. Practice this technique and try it next time you’re feeling anxious. You’ll feel more confident knowing you’ve got the tools you need. And of course, reach out if you would like more information on our Atlanta anxiety counselors.