What to do when your anxious mind overwhelms you

Ground yourself with mindful yoga in southampton and yoga in eastleigh
Imagine you have the roots of these beautiful old trees at Avebury: you are grounded and secure.

Your mind is whirring. Jumping from this place to that. You’re finding it difficult to focus.

Your jaw is tense. Your shoulders are up around your ears. There’s a feeling of contraction and tightness throughout your body. You’re barely breathing.

You’ve got that familiar feeling of not being quite able to put your finger on what’s wrong. An uncomfortable feeling you’re forgetting something; that you’re missing out on something; that something bad is going to happen; that you’re just not going to be able to get everything done that you need to.

Anxiety is with you again.

I know how it feels.

Anxiety v stress

Anxiety is a like a low-level hum in the background which is nearly always there.

It’s different from stress where you know what the issue is: an imminent deadline; a health worry for yourself or someone close to you; or knowing that your job just doesn’t light you up and life is passing by (that was my stress trigger for many years!).

Anxiety is the non-specific worried thoughts; the general feeling of unease; the feeling that your nerves are on edge. Apprehension. Agitation.

It’s in the way that an innocuous occurrence such as bumping into a piece of furniture or mislaying your keys, or a slightly ill-judged word by a colleague or family member, can send you spiralling off into anger, frustration, self-judgement and feeling totally overwhelmed and out of control.

It’s in the pressure you put on yourself to do the “right” thing; to be the “perfect” colleague, manager, partner, or parent.

And if you’re a sensitive person – empathetic – you’re probably picking up on the energies of those around you which adds to the feeling of overwhelm and disquiet because their energies are making you feel perturbed for no apparent reason.

How to deal with anxiety

I know, because I’ve been there. And, to be honest, anxiety is still something I experience when I put too much on my to-do list, when I compare myself to others, when I’ve got every day and weekend booked up with things to do, when I don’t give myself the quiet me-time that I’ve come to learn I absolutely need so I don’t get exhausted and depleted.

But I also know that you don’t have to be a victim of this anxiety. That you can look for the warning signs and take active positive steps to deal with the headiness; the monkey mind jumping around all over the place; the feeling of being slightly dissociated from your body.

How? When you feel anxiety rising, you need to ground yourself.

Grounding

Grounding is a powerful technique to bring yourself back into your body, into the here and now. To feel that you are connected to the earth and that you can let go of the excess nervous energy into the earth beneath you.

The quickest and easiest way I find to ground is to imagine my tailbone becomes like a tap root of a plant and burrows down deep into the earth; anchoring me, connecting me to something greater and stronger than me which feeds me, nourishes me and allows me to feel safe, secure and still.

If you’re in a big city and feel overwhelmed by all the people, the noises, the distractions: feel into your feet as you walk and know that you are supported by the earth with each step. You are safe.

If your mind is whirring at a million miles an hour and you just don’t know where to start with all of your ideas or the demands in your life or your to-do list: take a moment and close your eyes. Breathe down into the abdomen. Feel your sitting bones on your seat or your feet on the ground. Feel how gravity brings you back down to earth.

If you’re feeling day dreamy or a bit spaced out – whether through overwhelm, tiredness or just your wonderfully imaginative mind – imagine you are sitting in a green space, underneath an old tree. Feel its roots are your roots, connecting you deeply to the ground beneath you.

Here are more techniques you can use to help you feel grounded whenever you’re feeling overwhelmed, anxious or heady:

Grounding in daily life

Walk on the earth – barefoot or in shoes, whichever floats your boat. Walk slowly feeling into each step as you lift then place each foot. Connect to the healing vibes of the earth.

Southampton Yoga Teacher and Tree Hugger
Yoga Teacher and Tree Hugger :)

Touch a tree  – I like to hug an old tree whenever I see one  – it immediately connects you to something stable, something which isn’t going to flit away like your mind is! OK, this sounds a bit tree-hugging-new-age-crazy-hippy, but I promise you, it works!

Eat – something like cheese, nuts, bread or some dark chocolate. Nothing too sugary or full of caffeine. Something simple and solid to bring you back into your body. Eat it slowly and mindfully bringing your mind’s attention onto the sensations of eating.

Sit or lie on the ground – sit, all fours or lie-down. If you’re up in your head getting close to the ground helps to stabilise you and feel the support of gravity keeping you safe on the earth.

Grounding through yoga

Mountain Pose - Living Yoga with Stella, Mindful yoga in Southampton & Eastleigh
Mountain Pose: Strong and still

Mountain Pose – stand in stillness; imagine roots bursting out through the soles of your feet anchoring you into stillness.

Move your attention from the frenzy of thoughts and invite a feeling of tranquillity as you stand still in silence.

Crocodile yoga pose to relax - Living Yoga with Stella, yoga in Eastleigh & Southampton
Crocodile Pose: release & feel calm

Crocodile Pose – lie face down and allow the anxiety, physical tension and busy thoughts to drain away down into the earth.

Affirm: “I am becoming calm. I am calm”.

Reverse Warrior - Yoga for strength and to calm anxiety
Warrior Poses: for strength & determination

Warriors  – press the soles of your feet firmly onto the ground, feel the strength of the earth rising through your legs to your core. Stand strong and steady and feel your inner strength.

Earth Sequence – move slowly and connect to the stability and nourishment of the earth as you bring yourself back into balance and equilibrium.

Grounding meditation & visualisation:

This is a really powerful technique. Once you’re used to doing it sitting in stillness you can start to use it in your daily life. Whenever you feel anxious or overwhelmed, send your roots down into the earth.

  1. Sit (cross-legged or on a chair) with your spine tall.
  2. Close your eyes, or lower or gaze.
  3. Breathe deeply and steadily and allow your breath to slow naturally.
  4. Take your awareness and your breath down to the base of your spine.
  5. See in your mind’s eye that a tap root is growing out from your tailbone down into the earth  – holding you still and safe and steady on the ground.  Nothing can pull or push on you now. You are held by the earth. You are supported. You are nourished.
  6. Let any excess nervous, anxious energy drain away from you, down through that root – let this excess energy seep away to be neutralised by the gentle, loving power of the earth, leaving you feeling still, safe and refreshed.
  7. And when you’re ready, let this gentle, loving power rise to your heart and fill you with whatever positive qualities you need: inner strength; calmness; self-belief; joy. Whatever you need allow yourself to be filled up.

Connect to strength, stability and inner peace.


Over to you

Do you have any tips on how to ground yourself – how to deal with feeling anxious? How have you got on with the techniques I’ve described above?

Share in the comments below – I’d love to hear your thoughts!

What next?

Yoga in Southampton/Eastleigh: come to a weekly class for regular calming mindful movement and relaxation in a supportive atmosphere. I teach several public classes a week and monthly workshops – check out my yoga class timetable and workshops schedule to find out more and make a booking enquiry.

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{Avebury Trees photo credit: me, Stella Tomlinson, Southampton Yoga Teacher!}

2 thoughts on “What to do when your anxious mind overwhelms you

  1. Walk (when it is cold) or laying on the grass (when possible) it really works for me. And I use the see in my kind of very basic visualization techniques. I imaging my self watching the see and hearing the sound of the waves.

    1. Sounds lovely Angeles. Great to hear you’re using visualisation too – it’s such a powerful technique to harness the power of the mind and to affect how you feel in body, mind and emotions isn’t it? xxx

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