Do you find yourself feeling overwhelmed, with racing thoughts, or anxious feelings before a meeting or event?
Most of us do, at some time in our lives. Anxiety is,after all, part of the human condition. BUT, high pressure moments often require us to feel more focused and present in that moment. This is a simple technique that I teach my clients which helps to manage those unpleasant symptoms of anxiety.
The instructions below are for practice while standing, however, this technique can be just as effective when practiced while seated (although, of course not while operating a vehicle or machinery which requires your full attention and, both hands on the wheel).
1. Check in with yourself. Are you feeling stressed, anxious, overwhelmed? If the answer is “Yes” proceed to step 2.
2. Stand with your legs comfortably apart and take a deep, slow breath – in through your nose and slowly release this breath through your mouth. It doesn’t matter if you are alone, in a crowd, or standing in a long check-out line at the supermarket – this can be done quietly and gently so that no one will know you are doing it.
3. Place both hands, one on top of the other over your belly button (again no one will suspect a thing – you just look like you are resting your arms).
4. Take another deep breath in through your nose and this time as your breathe out through your mouth, focus on your middle. Focus on the feeling of your hands on your belly button (the warmth of your hands, the gentle pressure of your hands). Now, imagine that all of those unpleasant feelings (i.e., stress, anxiety and the weightiness of being overwhelmed) are being pushed down into this section of your body. As you do so, you may start to notice that your legs and feet feel more solid, more firmly rooted to the ground.
5. Take another deep breath in through your nose and, as you breathe out through your mouth, imagine all of those stressful feelings – now located in your middle – are being pushed downwards through your legs and out through the soles of your feet. Once again, you may notice that your legs start to feel solidly grounded and weighty – almost as if you are stuck to the floor, but you are not! You are simply grounded and you can choose to walk away from where you are with a renewed sense of confidence.
6. Congratulations! – You are centered and grounded. Your head will likely feel clearer, you may find you are walking taller, and, as you progress, you could very well find that you are more able to cope with the thing that was stressing you out. For example, the long check-out line in the supermarket may not seem so bothersome and you may even find yourself using the time productively.
I encourage my clients to test this technique with a friend or partner. When you are together and he or she seems a little stressed, you might ask them if you could do a little exercise.
Make sure she or he agrees before going any further.
1. First, ask them to stand with their legs comfortably apart. Then, ask permission to gently push her or his upper arm – if she or he agrees, gently push the upper arm closest to you with your hand. [Please note, the key word here is “gently” – you don’t want to shove her or him, or in any way hurt or injure – just push gently]. You will likely find that she or he is somewhat unbalanced.
2. Once they have regained their balance, start with point number two above and talk them through the exercise (only don’t tell them that their feet and legs are feeling more solid) – ask him or her to imagine pushing all of their worries about the day down through their middle section, through into their legs, and out through their feet. Once you have done this, you may notice that their shoulders appear to be more relaxed and they seem more solidly rooted to the spot.
3. If you observe the above changes, ask her or him once again if you can gently push their upper arm – if they agree, gently push. You may be surprised to see how solid she or he seems – so much so, it would likely take more effort than a gentle push to unbalance them.
4. Remember to congratulate him or her on being able to center and ground themselves and ask them how they feel.
Like anything in life, this little technique takes practice to make it more effective and efficient. The more you practice it, the better you will become and, quite possibly, the heavier and weightier your legs will feel.
Once you are a confident practitioner, this technique will help you to feel more focused, present, and confident in those moments when you need a boost.
Good luck and I hope this technique proves to be helpful.
If you would like further assistance with managing emotions, please feel free to contact our practice as we are currently accepting new clients.
Kind Regards, Dr. Corrick Woodfin, Registered Psychologist.