I’m writing all of this post event, with better ‘sight’ for lack of a better word.
I recently read about a technique that helps people down from anxiety. I was going to be having a hui with a whānau that included an almost 8 year old Māori boy who has some anxiety issues. I wanted it to go smoothly so I read papers on working with people with anxiety, blogs, self assessments etc etc. Hui prep yeah?
During my research I found this 5-4-3-2-1 technique that anxious people use to ground themselves, called … wait for it … grounding. Haha. I love obvious names for things.
I didn’t really retain the detail because it wasn’t relevant to the whanau hui I was about to have, but I did retain the gist of the technique.
You cycle thru your senses and you do 5 things of one sense, 4 things of a different sense etc etc.
So, story time.
Setting the scene. I am on a plane from Sapporo, Japan to Tokyo, Japan. Seated in row 47, seat C. I have just finished an amazing trip visiting with the Ainu, the indigenous people of Japan, on the first Japanese government sanctioned and funded Ainu-Maori symposium.
Cool right?! Anyone would think so. Their minds would be ablaze with a plethora of amazing thoughts.
But I’m staring at the overhead locker thinking that I’d rather die than have to deal with what’s going on in my head right now. I want to sink into the earth and let it’s blackness consume me. At the time it sounded so comfortable.
The kicker is, it’s literally over nothing. Three messages (of no consequence) sent to the wrong people. #1 was a bro msg to a not-bro, #2 was a non work msg to a work colleague and #3 a work msg sent to a bro.
When I write it out now it feels so inconsequential. But in the moment, it was a bunch of mistakes of epic proportions…
Big enough for me to logically consider not existing to not have to think them.
As we’ve already established my thoughts can spiral out of control. As a coping mechanism, I write when I need to unpack what’s in my head and I hope something comes out of it.
My mental health self care strategy is hope! lol. Yeah, I feel like that’s not a great strategy. Catch you up earth! Haha. ‘Oh don’t do that Josh… it’s not funny.’ I hear you say, buuuut, it kinda is tho. Don’t rob me of my ability to laugh at myself. Sometimes it’s all I have.
Ok, anyways, a couply great things came out part way through my writing; sleep and better thought processes.
This is literally what I wrote while being in my own head:
‘Better sleep. Sleeping pills? Yes. Zopeyclones. Gen recommended Zopeyclones, less side effects and upon waking he didn’t feel tired. He was a horse tho, so I’d probably need 1/4 as much.
Better thoughts? How do you control fast spiralling thoughts? Oh yes, naming! Is that what it is? Oh grounding! Let me try now.
(Spent 5mins working through grounding in my head).
It worked. Far out lol.
Say 5 things I see
Say 4 sounds I hear
Touch 3 things
Take two deep breathes.’
When I wrote ‘It worked. Far out lol.’ I actually was surprised it worked so well for me. I was pleasantly surprised. I’m so stoked I have something that works. I feel like my chances of staying on earth have increased.
You probably would’ve noticed that I didn’t do a stage one and I probably could’ve put the senses in a better order, but IT WORKED!
Some key takeaway lessons for me:
- Definitely say the things out loud. I tried to internally say them at first but speaking them, even at a soft normal voice so only you can hear is enough. There was something about hearing my own voice say things as opposed to “hearing” my internal voice.
- I would’ve gone in this order See – touch – hear – smell/breathes in – taste (if I had anything to eat/drink).
Definitely give this a go if you’re feeling anxious, or your brain starts to spiral down uncontrollably.
I don’t know if I need better sleep but there’s no harm in asking. So I’m booking a drs appointment tomorrow in the next few days to talk it out.
Stay on the earth, people. Stay here.