Do you sometimes feel anxious out of nowhere? One minute you are driving along singing to your favorite Beyoncé tune and the next thing you know everything from the long traffic lights to the low flying seagulls are stressing you out.
Maybe you are working diligently on a project and you look at the clock and see that you don’t have as much time as you thought you did to get it all done. All of a sudden you can’t focus, your breath is escaping you and you feel the overwhelming sensation of tears welling up in your eyes.
These can all be signs of an acute anxiety attack.
I know first hand that in these moments it can be very difficult to pull yourself together. Let me share with you a method that I use as a way to usher myself out of these instances.
It used to be that whenever I began to feel a rush of emotion that was coming at me like a freight train, all I could think was “Don’t panic. Don’t panic. DON’T PANIC!” The next thing I know I’m freaking out of my head.
A couple of times it caused me to just pass out; that was until I learned this awesome grounding technique. I call it Stop, Drop and Get Grounded. It is a combination and variation of some grounding exercises and coping techniques that I’ve acquired over time.
Here’s how to fight an acute anxiety attack with the Stop, Drop, and Get Grounded Method:
Step 1: Stop
Sounds simple enough, right? Whatever you are doing, put it down, pull over, walk away, just stop.
Step 2: Drop
Now, I don’t mean fall to the ground. You can do that if you feel safer sitting on the floor. It is up to you. What I actually mean is drop your energetic weight. Take a deep inhale and upon your exhale let all of the tension everywhere just fall towards the ground. Do this step as many time as you need to until you feel a bit of relief.
Step 3: Get Grounded
This last step is going to take a bit of focusing.
Here, you will do a count down starting from three:
- First, find three things that you can see in your surroundings.
- Next, find two things that you can hear.
- Last, find one thing that you can feel.
For example, right now I can see the screen where I am typing, I can see the trees across the street through the window and I can see passers by.
I can hear car horns honking and I can hear the AC system in the building where I am working.
I can feel the carpet on the floor where I am sitting.
After completing these three steps, my breathing typically returns to normal. I am able to focus my attention back to the task at hand or make a decision to walk away from the task for some time until I can give it my total attention again.
Now, I have to say that I’m not a medical professional. I am only speaking from experience. This isn’t meant to replace any medical advice from your doctor. If you are experiencing this often, please seek help from a qualified licensed professional.
Having an acute anxiety attack is a very serious situation. This is just my way of getting in out in front of it.
The next time you feel an attack coming on, remember STOP, DROP and GET GROUNDED.