Imagine this.. You’re in school, the day of a big presentation. You’ve watched your classmates give their presentations perfectly, no slip ups or stutters. You’ve been mentally preparing yourself to be able to speak in front of a bunch of people all period, running through the notecards attached to your project in your mind about what you are going to say. Then, your name gets called. You go up to the front of the class with your project and set it up. But, when you go to reach for your notecards, they aren’t attached to your project. You swore they were there before you walked up, but you can’t walk back to your desk to grab them if they fell on the way, that would be too embarrassing. You stand in front of your classmates, heart pounding out of your chest, dreading the presentation you are about to give.
This situation sounds pretty familiar, right? It probably gave most of you a very anxious feeling. That was the point, to give you, the reader, a feeling of anxiety. Now, some people only have anxiety with public speaking. Those people are very lucky. There are other people, like myself, who feel anxiety almost constantly.
Anxiety disorders are a very real thing that affect 25% of all teens and 30% of teenage girls, myself included. People with anxiety disorders, unfortunately, have to struggle with anxiety almost constantly. Whether the person is just walking down the street or at their house alone, there is almost always a feeling of anxiety and stress about them. For me, I feel anxiety all the time. I get overwhelmed extremely easily and suffer from sensory overload if I get too upset. Sensory overload, for those who don’t know, is when someone gets overwhelmed in the senses. Sounds and movements and so many people bumping into someone can cause them to get sensory overload and throw them into an anxiety or panic attack.
A lot of people have many different methods and tricks to stop a panic attack. Some people find a quiet place, like an empty room, and they focus on their breathing to calm down. Some people focus on slowing down their heartbeats. Listening to calm music also works really well for others. Me personally, I do a grounding exercise. I get myself to focus, and I find five things I can see, four things I can hear, three things I can smell, two things I can touch, and one thing I can feel. If I have something available, I write it down so that I have to focus on what I’m writing and I get my mind to think about everything I’m sensing. Getting myself to observe and analyze my surroundings pulls me back to reality and grounds me, hence it being called a grounding exercise.
Anxiety comes in many different forms and affects people in many different ways. Not every method of calming down anxiety will work for everyone, it’s very much so a trial and error process. But, once you find the one that works, stick to it so you always have something to help you when everything becomes too much.