Do you ever feel like you’re floating away because of stress — maybe around finals? Or that your schoolwork is getting too overwhelming to handle? Stress may be normal, but it’s often also inopportune. We still have to function, attend classes, and get on with things despite the strain. But there are ways to keep it together and keep going.
What is Grounding?
Many therapists recommend using grounding exercises to help combat stress. But what does that actually mean? To feel grounded means to feel focused on and connected to the world around you without worrying about what’s next. When you feel particularly overwhelmed, all the positive skills you’ve cultivated over the years can slip away, allowing panic to take hold. We’ve compiled some super-quick grounding techniques to help you keep yourself grounded on the fly, between classes or before a final.
Get Comfy with Discomfort
It can sometimes help to take a moment to acknowledge your feelings without analyzing how you got there. Mindfulness is the act of being in the moment, good or bad, and simply acknowledging that moment. Learning to be at peace with feelings and emotions can help you push past difficult times. Once you recognize how you’re feeling and are aware of the effects your emotions are having on your mind and body, you may feel better equipped to handle it.
5, 4, 3, 2, 1
The five senses grounding exercise is an excellent way to distract yourself for just enough time to feel focused again. Take a moment to think of five objects you can see, four items you can touch, three sounds you can hear, two scents you can smell (or just two you like), and one you can taste (or one flavor you like). This exercise helps you detach from your stress while reminding you of where you are and what’s going on around you. This can be helpful when things seem to spin out of control.
Take a Walk
Taking a walk around the block, getting up and stretching, sitting outside for a minute to get some fresh air is a known stress reducer. The movement, the outside air, the commitment to moving out of the environment, all help. Distractions like walking can help you remove yourself from the stressful feelings, lessening their intensity and letting you analyze your situation from a more rational frame of mind.
Order in the Mind
Some people find that making lists is a good way to soothe an over-anxious mind. Make a list of things that need to get done before class, steps to finishing your essay, or topics that you need to study. Putting it all out there on paper can help you see exactly where you stand and make a better plan to push through it all.
You can also make a list of factors you can control, like how much time you dedicate to studying each topic, and factors you can’t, like how much time you have overall before a test. Not only does this help you prioritize, it also shows you what you shouldn’t waste energy worrying about.
Take a Deep Breath
When all else fails, just remember to breathe. Taking deep breaths and focusing on the depth, timing and consistency of each one can slow your mind and heartbeat from racing when you’re feeling anxious. Try to stay in this moment with your breath, just hearing and feeling the movement. This may help you feel more in control and allow you to move forward from your stress more easily.
Getting your degree is no easy feat, and there will be times when the stress seems like it’s going to get the better of you. When you feel like you’re drowning, remember that if you’ve gotten this far, you can totally handle what’s next.