I have personally struggled with anxiety for as long as I can remember. As a child I always had this feeling of wanting to crawl out of my own skin and even worse was the big red rubber ball that I always felt was going to run me over as it continuously chased me.
Crazy to think a child so young can experience something so scary.
The most important thing about anxiety is to understand what it truly is –
- Anxiety is a feeling.
- Anxiety is fear.
- Anxiety is a lack of control.
- Anxiety is worry.
- Anxiety is self created (most of the time).
- Anxiety is self perpetuated.
- Anxiety can be controlled.
There are different types of anxiety, so if you struggle with anxiety and are looking for help or answers, I strongly encourage you to educate yourself on the signs and symptoms as well as the types of anxiety that exist.
Please visit https://www.anxiety.org/what-is-anxiety to get started.
Anxiety is a feeling that can be felt all over your body, most of the time it starts in your gut and can navigate its way to your chest causing breathing issues as well as an elevated heart rate. It is important to understand that if you do not gain control over your anxiety you can develop panic attacks and eventually a full on panic disorder.
A Panic disorder is a type of anxiety disorder that causes panic attacks, which results in a sudden feelings of terror (think fight or flight) even when there is no real danger. A panic attack may feel as if you are losing control. You may also experience physical symptoms, such as
- Fast or racing heartbeat
- Chest or stomach pain
- Breathing difficulty
- Weakness or dizziness
- Feeling hot or a cold chill
- Tingly or numb hands
Unfortunately panic attacks can happen anytime, anywhere, and without warning. Once you experience one, you may live in fear of having another attack and therefore you may avoid places that could potentially trigger you into an attack. For some people, this fear takes over their lives and they cannot leave their homes and sadly they become a prisoner to their disorder.
Panic disorders are more common in women than men and they usually start during adolescence with stress and trauma being a huge trigger. Fortunately, people can manage their anxiety and almost abolish it, with the properly balanced treatment. Therapy and/or Coaching can teach you how to recognize (and avoid) the triggers, develop coping skills and change your thinking patterns before they lead to panic.
(certain medicines can also help but should be used as a last resort.)
One thing that is critical is to make sure you DO NOT try to stop the anxiety or shame yourself for having it. Anxiety is a feeling and it is something that many people in this world struggle with. You are not alone. Trying to stop the anxiety will only make it worse.
There are many different ways to manage anxiety. I wrote an article a few years ago for the Elephant Journal magazine which was really popular and helped a number of people – click here to read this amazing article!
Taken from this article I am providing you with 5 proven techniques to cope with your anxiety with or without medicine by “grounding” or “earthing”.
Grounding is a technique that brings people back to the present moment when they are in the midst of chaos. Grounding skills can be helpful with managing feelings of intense anxiety and can help people regain their mental focus after a traumatic event or anxiety-induced state.
There are many proven ways to ground yourself. If you are in the midst of an anxiety attack and need to get “grounded,” you can start by counting backwards, either in your mind or out loud; this is actually a mental distraction, and therefore, takes the focus off the anxiety.
Cold therapy has proven to be a successful treatment for anxiety. Many people have used ice cubes on their face, arms, wrists, forehead and in their mouth to help them out of an anxiety attack. Others take ice cold showers. This type of treatment like a jolt to the central nervous system to steer it away from the panic response and release chemicals into the body that counter a panic attack by slowing down the release of cortisol and adrenaline.
Another wonderful and successful technique is to look around the room and name what you see: lamp, table, picture of my kids, five pens in a pencil holder, painting with a horse and a tree…whatever it is you see, call it out. This helps ground you in the present moment.
Some grounding techniques are actually referred to as “earthing”—and like the name suggests, you literally become one with the earth by putting your body in direct, uninterrupted contact with the earth. This exercise requires that your skin touch the soil, sand, water, or a conductive surface that is in contact with the earth.
This can be mean dipping your toes in the sand at the beach, walking in nature, going for a hike deep in the forest, swimming in a lake or the ocean, planting seeds (or replanting flowers) and digging in the dirt, or just walking through the grass barefoot. Earthing has a tremendous amount of health benefits—too many to mention in this article, so I empower you to google “earthing” and “grounding.”
Here’s a list of my favourite grounding activities (more than one involves earthing):
1. Walking or hiking.
Walking is the simplest and most effective way to reduce anxiety. Walking at an even pace has a very calming effect. It can evoke mindfulness, clear your head of rapidly cycling thoughts, and release stress. When walking (or hiking) in nature you will feel more relaxed during the walk. You can also take it one step further and meditate while you walk. Walks on the beach are amazingly therapeutic as well. The salt air and calming sound of the ocean is very grounding.
Specifically, Hatha yoga, which is the simplest form of asanas (yoga postures) and pranayama (breathing techniques) can be helpful. Yoga is the soul practice of the body, mind, and spirit—and it brings us to a state of mindfulness. This can be done at home, and we can practice for as short or as long a time as we desire. I recommend at least 15 minutes for session length, although 30 minutes is ideal.
Nothing connects you to the earth more than gardening. This is a fantastic example of earthing, as your hands are completely immersed in the soil. It’s such a peaceful and mindful art—and one that has so many benefits.
This keeps us in a state of mindfulness by helping to remove negative thoughts, as well as organizing those distracting, racing thoughts. Getting your thoughts and ideas down on paper will help you clear your mind and enable you to get to a peaceful state quickly. Organizing your thoughts also helps you to set (and ultimately obtain) goals in a more efficient way.
Being creative by using your imagination and putting ideas into action is a very grounding activity that also has a beneficial and tangible outcome.
Whatever practice you choose, immerse yourself in it. Bask in the moment of the activity—and when you find that your mind starts to drift and your thoughts beginning to wander, bring yourself back to the moment.
Feel the earth as you put your hands in the dirt; walk across the grass, or stick your toes in the sand. To ground yourself even further, describe how it feels out loud . Describing it makes it feel extra real.
I love walking barefoot in the grass on a chilly summer morning after it has rained and the grass is wet with dew. The feeling is magical and reminds me of childhood. Remember being a child and running through the sprinkler? Wasn’t that magical?
Even as adults, we can create magical moments that make us feel like children again. We feel the wonderment, the joy, and the peace we felt as kids, when we were riding our bikes and the wind blew through our hair—or doing somersaults on a warm summer day with the sun beaming down on us. How about that moment when you take that first lick of an ice cream cone? Yumm.
Those moments are priceless.
We can have those now, as adults—we just need to create them. We live in a world of chaos and instant gratification, so it takes a commitment to ourselves to take a step back and slow things down, so we can enjoy every single moment—because right now is all we have.
So, I empower you to try at least one of these amazing techniques to help ground you and help you live in each moment as it comes. It isn’t easy…but over time, it will become easier.
Love and happiness always!