There’s something therapeutic about being in the company of a horse. They listen without judgement to words left unspoken.
Anxiety has become a copilot for many, so heading into the holiday season, I wanted to share a technique that I learned for grounding. It utilizes the senses and can be done anywhere, at any time. A panic attack can feel quite debilitating, but this exercise might help to quell the clanging of that alarm bell.
Panic attacks can be triggered by a multitude of events—a smell, words, a loud noise, something you see, or stress, to name a few. Knowing what those triggers are for you can sometimes take away that element of surprise.
The 54321 method of grounding walks you through the five senses. Begin by taking some deep breaths and focusing on your environment. For this example, I’ll use a barn. Take time to really notice your choices, don’t make this exercise a rapid-fire checklist. In your mind, mentally squeeze every last detail out of your selections.
Five Things I See: steam rising as sunlight hits weathered wood, symmetrical stacking of bales of hay, a worn leather saddle, a chestnut horse, grooming tools
Four Things I Can Touch: the metal clasp on the stall door, the satin coat of the chestnut gelding, the coarse strands of hair making up his mane, the softness of his muzzle as he snuffles a treat from my hand
Three Things I Can Hear: a radio softly playing a country song, a puff of breath from the gelding’s nostrils, the swish of a tail
Two Things I Can Smell: clover scent of fresh hay, earthy smell of manure
One Thing I Can Taste: lingering taste of my morning coffee
Don’t let the holidays become a source of stress. Focus on the people who matter most to you and if you get overwhelmed, breathe, and take a few minutes to ground yourself.