Those of us who struggle with anxiety and panic attacks truly understand we can be in the best of circumstances and suddenly be engulfed in horrifying feelings. Heart racing, smothering, nervous breakdown inducing attacks without warning or reasoning. These moments are overwhelming and take us straight out of reality at times.
I spent the last 2 weeks in Panama City with my daughter, right on the beach. She went there for dolphin training classes to start off her future marine biology degree. I tagged along for the company and ocean.
The beach is my happy place. I can literally watch the waves roll in for hours. My retirement will absolutely need to take place in a beachfront condo.
With that being said, I was shocked and confused at the panic attacks that came hard and fast the first 2 nights in our beautiful room with the ocean view I adore. Hiding my struggles from my daughter, I promised myself freedom would somehow be found the next day. I couldn’t imagine spending my entire time in paradise trapped by my old nemesis, anxiety.
I remembered something I recently pinned:
Anxiety “grounding” tool: Look around you. Find 5 things you can see, 4 things you can touch, 3 things you can hear, 2 things you can smell, and 1 thing you can taste.
This prompted me to think about true connection to nature, the kind that gets all of your senses involved. So, the next morning I hauled myself down oceanside and parked in a cozy blue chair under a striped shady umbrella. As anxiety rose up as it inevitably often does, I tested out that much needed grounding tool in my breathtaking surroundings.
Then I enjoyed a long, deep, meaningful conversation with God. Not really asking for anything. Just hanging out, enjoying His company, and thanking Him for this incredible beauty He created for me to wrap myself up in.
And it worked. Amazingly well. Here’s the fascinating part. My calmness from those grounded moments started to carry over to the evenings and even the rainy hours in my room after this dark cloud rolled in.
I’m well aware that most human beings cannot under any circumstances take 2 weeks off and head to the beach to work on their anxiety. But my theory is this will work on a much smaller scale too.
A recent Time magazine article (their special edition on mindfulness) I had the luxury of reading this week backs me up on this thought. It describes grounding as well but with a different perspective. Integrative-medicine doctor Valencia Porter recommends connecting your bare feet with the earth, ground or soil, to help depression, anxiety, and insomnia.
These are 3 of my greatest struggles. I’ll definitely be spending more time outdoors shoeless when I get home, even without the precious granules of sand between my toes. This is the perfect season to pull a chair into our backyards and stick our feet in the green grass.
If you’re not a fan of being barefoot, like my son who would cringe at the mere thought, just get outside. Go hiking, walk around your neighborhood, sit on your patio, and try looking around and engaging all of your senses. Use the above 5-4-3-2-1 grounding activity. It’s the perfect addition to any emotional healing toolbox.
Don’t forget to spend time with God, thanking Him for the nature that surrounds you, whether it’s sunshine, green grass, mountains, oceans, snowflakes… This is where I believe the true healing to take place. By remembering He created all of this helps me in those indoor, ungrounded moments. I can connect to Him when anxiety starts to set in, knowing how powerful and capable He actually is.
I pray these words help you move forward in life regardless of what you’re struggling with today. I know very personally how hard this can be. For more tips and support, please subscribe to my free newsletter. I so appreciate having you on this life journey with me.