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Anxiety Toolkit

Anxiety. Sometimes seeing or hearing the word itself is enough to make your heart skip a beat or flush red in the face. Whether you have a clinical diagnosis of Anxiety or just have moments in passing of feeling anxious, almost everyone has experienced this in their life. Anxiety affects 1 in every 6 Australians, making it the leading mental health concern in the world. You may have experienced this when encountering your fear of spiders or heights, before a test or competition, large crowds, or having a difficult conversation with someone. 

Sometimes, this feeling of anxiousness can be overwhelming and take over our body. This could look like increased breathing rate, feeling your heartbeat out of your chest, sweating/feeling clammy, not thinking clearly or feeling sick. And then these often lead to one thing to another to another and so on…. Resulting in an anxiety spiral. It looks and feels different for everyone. It is a hard beast to get on top of and bring yourself back to the present moment. 

54321 Anxiety Ground Technique

Below are steps to follow for the 54321 Anxiety Grounding Technique. This is a technique you can add to your toolkit for moments of anxiousness in certain situations (eg. in large, uncomfortable crowds) or perhaps upon awakening or as you wind down to sleep. It allows you to bring your physical body and mind back/or further in to the present moment. Similar to mindfulness. 

Getting set up: (when performing planned, eg. at home)

Find a quiet area, lying or sitting however is comfortable for you. A nice position is with your legs straight up the wall, like in the photo. You may like to dim the lights, or light your favorite candle.

Alternatively, you may like to do this out in nature, and therefore simply finding a comfortable place to sit. 

Steps:

  • Place one hand over your chest and one over your belly. Notice the rise and fall of each hand. Observe the speed of the rise and fall. If heightened, try to slow the breath down. It’s okay if you can’t.

In your mind list…

  • 5 things you can see
    • The grain in your fingernails, the speck of dirt on the ceiling, the specific shade of green leaves above you
  • 4 things you can feel
    • The crinkle of your shirt, the wispy piece of hair on your neck, the softness of your car seat beneath you
  • 3 things you can hear
    • The rustle of the leaves, the whir from the fridge, the distant traffic
  • 2 things you can smell
    • Your own fragrance or of those around you, if the air smells fresh…
  • 1 thing you can taste
    • Perhaps the lingering taste of your evening sleep tea or a little dessert treat!


Don’t actively try to control the answers to these questions. Whatever pops in to your mind. There are no right or wrong answers. This can be completed at your own pace. Really take the time to acknowledge these answers. 

Other tools you can try to add to your Anxiety Toolkit:

  • Box breathing (inhale, hold, exhale, hold, equally 3-5s, imagining 4 sides of a box)
  • Apps to guide you through meditation/mindfulness/breathing
    • eg. Headspace, Insight Timer, Calm, Smiling Mind
  • Yoga/Tai Chi practice
    • Or participating in other modalities of exercise regularly 


I hope these give you some ideas of tools to try to calm your mind, body and soul. 

**Please note these are some generalized suggestions to aid in Anxiety. If your anxiety levels are increasing in frequency or intensity or you would like to get on top of it, please seek guidance from a Psychologist/Counsellor/Psychiatrist or start by chatting to a friend or family member.**

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