Updated: Jun 21, 2022
For anxiety, panic attacks, flashbacks and/or nightmares.
In those moments, it can be hard to think of what to do. Please consider writing yourself a to do list for those moments that you can go through. Whether it is things from this list I am sharing with you or your own grounding methods you have thought of. Write a step by step of how to get yourself grounded that you can have on your phone or notebook. This will make it easier when you're feeling panicked and/or stressed to navigate through calming techniques. Another tip is to try some of these things when you're calm. Don't try them for the first time when you're in a panicked state.
Put your hands in cold water (you could even hold an ice cube.)
Squeeze something soft like a blanket or stuffed animal.
Hold a favourite item like a stimming toy or something you love. If you are outside, consider picking up a leaf (or rock etc) and examining it and how it feels.
Put your hand over your heart and feel it. You are here. You are present. Inhale (through your nose) for four seconds and Exhale (through your mouth) for six seconds.
Cuddle or pet your dog/cat if you have one.
Pick up and touch items close to you. Feel the texture of them, the weight. Really focus on these traits.
Think of things you enjoy touching. I know someone who keeps bubble wrap around so they can pop it when they feel distressed.
Drink or eat something (if you can) with a strong taste. (Something really sour, maybe something spicy, or anything with a strong taste.)
Chew gum or suck on a mint or similar.
Let a chocolate or similar melt in your mouth. Really focus on the taste and the sensation.
Drink a cold or hot beverage.
Please be aware of your limits. Are you going to be able to focus on this? Is there risk of you choking if you panic and/or dissociate heavily?
What do you see now? What colours are the walls? What is the floor made of? Name five items in the room with you?
Flip through photos that you like
Read a book, article or something you enjoy reading.
Spray a scent that is non triggering like a body spray, or air freshener.
Have some essential oils to smell when you need.
Do not light a candle if there is a risk of you dissociating too much to remember it. This can be dangerous. Please only light a scented candle if you are certain it is safe to do so.
Smell your favourite foods, or candy with a strong smell.
Put on a non-triggering movie/show/youtube video
Put on some non-triggering music.
Listen to the sounds where you are and list them off. Are there bugs chirping outside? Are people doing work outside? Do you hear a heater/fan going? Etc.
Play nature sounds (there are apps that do relaxing sounds. Consider downloading one.)
Call a friend. (If this happens in the middle of the night, maybe ask a trusted friend to send you some recordings you can play of them saying calming things for you?)
Listen to an audio book or read a book you like out loud.
Have an anchoring phrase/mantra like: “My name is ___. I am ___ years old. I live in ___. I am safe. ”
Have a soothing or distracting app you go to on your phone. (There are colouring apps and just nice games or activities to do.)
Having a self-care box
Remember that even if it does not feel like it right now, you are going to be okay. You’ve gotten through this before and you can do it again. I believe in you. I hope you believe in you, too.