Grounding Box: Managing Anxiety
One of the tools I offer for clients that gets a lot of positive feedback is the Grounding Box. This is a box you create to hold items that help to decrease anxiety by practicing mindfulness and grounding oneself in the present moment; to identify you are safe. See, anxiety is when your brain identifies a possible threat and then sends a signal to the body to shift the nervous system. This in turn triggers your body to begin specific, strategic activities in the body to prepare for fight or flight. So heart rate goes up, breathing increases, sweating, tension in muscles, etc. If one can ground their attention in the present moment, they can eventually identify that there is no danger and the nervous system will begin to shift again, calming the body. One can speed this process up by going to the body and systematically managing these physical anxiety symptoms, which will then send signals from the body back to the brain to tell it to relax. So to ground oneself in the present the senses must be engaged. What you see, hear, taste, touch, and smell can only occur in the present. So a grounding box is a box, simple or decorated (for a creativity project!), that contains an item to engage each of your senses. Just identify an item you find joy from smelling or touching, a candy you love to taste, a picture of a beautiful vacation or your family, etc. Whenever you feel anxious or dysregulated, get out your box and engage your senses in positive interactions within the present moment. Below are a few suggestions for each sense. And remember, practice. Anything you practice you will get better at, whether be practice calming when the body is falsely alerted, or practice associating fear and anxiety with various situations and people. Sight Pictures of/from: your children, your wedding, a beautiful place you visited, the ocean, your pets, your favorite color, beautiful sites from a calendar. Or go outside and sit in front of a tree, the ocean, the sun, etc.
Have a big shell to hear the ocean, a little toy you like the tune of, chinese medicine balls, a little flute or whistle, a cd and player, a music globe or box, turn on nature sounds, listen to a guided meditation, listen to an audio book, listen to ambient sounds, etc.
Have some sage, some potpourri, a lavender candle, I prefer essential oils and a diffuser, perfume, a container with anything you like the smell of, etc.
Have your favorite candy, a soda, a drink you find nostalgic, etc.
A soft cloth, a brush, fidget spinner, fidget block/toy, chinese medicine balls, clicker, stress ball, piece of carpet, piece of silk, etc.