Center Yourself When Anxiety Hits
If you feel your anxiety levels rising, the first thing to do is take a couple of deep breaths, Dr. Brewer told POPSUGAR. This is a simple technique to calm yourself and engage parts of your brain deal with focus, memory, and problem-solving (your prefrontal cortex). From there, Dr. Brewer recommended bringing your awareness to your feet or "feeling your feet," a mindfulness exercise that will "literally ground you."
You can also try the five-four-three-two-one grounding technique, said Jennifer Wolkin, PhD, an NYC-based licensed clinical psychologist. "The idea behind the method is to get the person out of their own heads," she explained. Here's how to do it:
- Notice five things that you can see. "You can start with the more blatant, but then see if you can go deeper and see the subtle things in the space around you."
- Notice four things you can hear. Again, start with more obvious sounds, then hone in on less-noticeable ones.
- Pay attention to three things you can feel in your body. Can you feel your heart beating? Are you hungry or full? Any areas of pain or soreness? "Note them silently to yourself. What do you feel going on inside your body?"
- Smell two things. Sniff the snack you're eating or smell the lotion you used on your hands this morning. "What else can you smell, as subtle as it might be? Note it to yourself, without judging it."
- Find one thing you can taste. This could be the aftertaste of your last meal, toothpaste, mouthwash, or just your breath. "If you can't connect with a taste right in this moment, conjure the last taste you remember, and just notice it, without judging it."
- Repeat as necessary. "Each time, see if you can challenge yourself to find new things to sense."