Have you ever felt so overwhelmed that you begin to spiral? Your thoughts become jumbled. The air in the room seems to thin out. You can’t remember what you were doing, where you were going, or even, in a very real sense, who you are. Your mind and identity become completely adrift from your body.
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Sometimes, stress can cause us to get away from ourselves.
How do we bring our best self back down to earth when this happens?
Here are 4 techniques that can help you to remain grounded when the world starts to slip away:
1. Count down: 5, 4, 3, 2, 1
How to do it: Notice five things you can see. Count four things you can touch. Acknowledge three things you can hear. Identify two things you can smell. Finally, think of one thing you can taste. Repeat as necessary.
Why it works: This exercise engages all five of your senses in simple ways. It helps you to bring focus back to your body. Your sense of awareness will once again become anchored to your being. This will bring you back down to earth in a comfortable and manageable way.
2. Look to the little things.
How to do it: Find a small sensory pleasure nearby. This could be a hand lotion in your purse, a favorite song on the radio, a mug of hot chocolate, or a warm blanket. Try to experience it with as much depth as possible. Immerse yourself in the positive sensation and the wonder of feeling it. Engage as many senses as possible. Allow yourself to be at one with the world.
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Why it works: This mindfulness technique brings you back to your environment in a positive way. It engages your sense of gratitude, as well. This boosts your mood, health, and overall sense of well-being. It helps you to engage with the world in a peaceful way, rather than stressful or combative one.
3. Connect to humanity.
How to do it: Think of the small joys and trials we all face as a species. We have all endured headaches. We’ve each felt the sting of sadness and loss. Every one of us have felt wonder and excitement. Each person in the room with you has shared these experiences. They are universal, and you are a part of the universe.
Why it works: Connecting yourself with the human experience is kind of like looking up at the night sky. The world is so large, and we are so very small. We are an integral part of a larger, more beautiful picture. In doing this exercise, you will feel safer and less alone.
How to do it: There are many ways to do this. My favorite is very simple. I breathe in through my nose to a count of seven. I hold it there for a count of four. Then, I breathe out of my mouth for a count of eight. Belly breathing and other techniques are also effective. Research them all. Find one that works for you.
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Why it works: Your breath is connected to your mind, body, and spirit. When your breathing becomes slow and intentional, so does your state of being. Concentrating on your breath also brings your awareness back to your body. It grounds you to yourself slowly and peacefully. This practice also fights our natural inclination to breathe rapidly when we feel anxious. Rapid breathing can lead to dizziness, which intensifies the feeling of losing ourselves.