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5…..4….3…2..1. Calm

Most people would agree they don’t enjoy change. Sudden unexpected transitions are much less tolerable. Covid-19 is causing big and small changes to everyone’s daily lives. On top of the obvious stressors like worrying about your health and economic instability, people are being forced to adjust their daily routines.

Personally, I am a ritualistic and methodical person. Simple consistencies in everyday life help me feel comfortable and secure. Being forced to wait in lines at the grocery store, having trouble finding everyday items, and not being able to safely interact with people are additional stressors throwing off my inner balance.

When fear or anxiety take over mental barriers are put in place and simple tasks become incomprehensible. In overwhelming situations, it is near impossible to look at a situation objectively. When this happens slowing down and taking a step back from the situation is a good first step to return to a healthy inner balance.

There are several grounding techniques that can help anyone distance themselves from things that are currently overwhelming them. It can be as simple as focusing on your breathing or a consistent noise like a ticking clock. For some people feeling something tangible like a piece of cloth or a worry stone and then focusing intently on how it feels helps.

For myself, when all else fails the 5-4-3-2-1 technique has been a powerful tool to cope with anxiety and stressful situations. First start by focusing on 5 things you can see. Maybe it’s the pattern wood grain on the table in front of you, the vibrant red of the painting on the wall, the consistent pattern of the carpet, the complex curves of the computer mouse on your desk, and interesting shine to the button on someone’s jacket.

Continue counting down with your senses. Focus on four things you can touch. Maybe it’s the soft fabric of your shirt. It could be the texture of the woodgrain on the desk in front of you or the smooth leather of your wallet or the feeling of the floor beneath your feet.

On to three things you can hear like the deep rumble of the air conditioner, the subtle music you can hear in the background, or the consistent ticking of a clock.

Think about two things you can smell, possibly be the smell of your clean clothes or pleasant cologne someone in the room is wearing.

Lastly think about one thing you can taste, possibly your morning coffee.

With the added stress Covid-19 is causing it is important to take your mental health seriously. Grounding yourself is a great first step in in dealing with the fears and anxiety at hand. It gives you the chance to step back and work through current situations more calmly and objectively.

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