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Whether experiencing a full-blown attack or just overwhelming anxiety, most feel out of control and powerless through these episodes. By learning a few simple grounding techniques, people can self-soothe and calm their anxiety before it escalates. The quickest and simplest way to stop the racing thoughts is to bring yourself back to the present moment by reconnecting with yourself. This article explains how using the five senses can help calm you down. According to The Mayo Clinic, “this exercise helps you shift your focus to your surroundings in the present moment and away from what is causing you to feel anxious. It can help interrupt unhealthy thought patterns.”
Look around your environment, turn your focus onto five things. In your head, begin to describe them in great detail. What color is the object? What texture? Does it have a distinct shape or form? Focusing your attention on five or so items and paying attention to the finer details, will help you ground yourself in your body and alleviate anxiety symptoms.
Find four things that you can physically feel. Focus on how your body feels against the chair you’re sitting in or how the material of your shirt feels to your hands. It can also help to have something like a keychain made of beads. Run your fingers over the beads and focus on the shape and smoothness. Concentrate on how the objects feel to your touch and describe the sensations in your head.
Tune into the sounds in your environment and begin to identify what it is that you are hearing. Can you hear a bird chirping outside your window? Cars driving down the street? Can you hear footsteps in the distance? Your breath?
Find two things that you can smell. Can you smell any coffee? Your perfume? If there is a particular smell that you enjoy, start carrying it around with you or on you so that you can utilize it for this particular exercise if needed. People often find the scent of lavender to be extremely calming. This study indicates that “lavender effectively ameliorates generalized anxiety comparable to 0.5 mg/daily lorazepam.”
Pick one thing to taste. It can be anything such as gum, a chocolate bar, a cookie, or a drink. Focus on the flavors and the consistency, take your time with chewing and truly feel yourself experience what you are tasting. If you are drinking something, let it sit in your mouth and taste it, before swallowing slowly.
By doing this exercise, you create space between the anxiety and the panic, allowing yourself to calm down. It is easy to get caught up in the racing thoughts that come with anxiety and slowly begin to feel as though we are losing control. Using this exercise to reconnect with the present moment through the five senses is a great way to regain control of the mind and body. Shifting your focus to the present moment will slow down your heartbeat and pull you out of thought patterns that are causing you to spiral.