ease anxiety after narcissistic abuse

3 Grounding Techniques to Ease Anxiety After Narcissistic Abuse

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By Bethany Dotson

If you’ve been in a relationship with a narcissist – or any similar type of emotionally, psychologically, or physically abusive person, you may be searching for ways to ease anxiety after narcissistic abuse. 

You know that simply breaking up and leaving is far more complicated (and difficult) than your standard relationship that’s simply run its course.

Narcissistic abuse can be subtle and insidious – or at least it begins that way

To make matters even more confusing, you likely thought this person was your soulmate.  They were so perfect, sensitive, supportive and charming in the beginning.  The chemistry was off-the-charts.  The sex was incredible.   And the blah routine of your life suddenly exploded in technicolor and excitement when they swept you off your feet with adoration and sweeping promises about your glorious future together.

So, when the devaluing eventually starts – and the inevitable, abrupt, and cruel discard happens, the aftermath and road to recovery can feel just as painful, rocky and isolating – if not more – than being with the narcissist.   THIS is the trap.  And this why so many people (including myself) go back multiple times before finally breaking free for good.

If you’ve traveled this road, you’ve probably experienced the psychological mayhem of  anxiety, isolation, depression, insomnia, and obsessive thoughts about your ex (a.k.a. C-PTSD) that may include hours of Google research on narcissism – an attempt at keeping the addictive attachment to this person alive; questioning yourself, or trying to function in life amidst the emotional shell-shock.

If you’re second guessing your decision, wondering if he or she will hoover you (again) and torn in the conflicting anxiety of wanting the old, confident YOU back and secretly wanting the GOOD, knight-in-shining-armor-narcissist back (that’s sadly just an illusion) try the below mindfulness-based practices to ease anxiety, stay strong in your journey, and help you RECONNECT with the perfect, limitless person you are and always have been. 

5 Grounding Techniques to Ease Anxiety After Narcissistic Abuse

NOTE: these grounding techniques can be used on their own or sequentially, building on each other to create a daily roadmap during recovery.

1 – BREATHE

One of the fastest (and most cost-effective!) ways to get grounded, relieve anxiety, shift difficult emotions, and feel better is through something that’s always with you, right under your nose. Your breath.

Years ago, when I was in college, I was trying to quit smoking.  I had a counselor tell me that every time I felt the craving to light up, to simply breathe deeply through those feelings and that eventually, just like all feelings, it would pass.  

It worked. (And I’ve been smoke-free for 15 years).

So, when you feel the urge to call, text, drive by or unblock the narcissist, go back to Google to search narcissism, or replaying all the good times and wondering if you were wrong about them, try this:

  • Find a comfortable seat in your favorite chair or on the floor with a cushion. Sit up straight and relax your shoulders away from your ears.
  • Close your eyes
  • If eyes closed feels too edgy, you can take a “soft gaze” toward a point on the floor a few feet in front of you.
  • Place your palms face down on your knees or thighs as a gesture of grounding.
  • Inhale for 4 counts.
  • Hold for 4 counts.
  • Exhale for 4 counts.
  • Repeat for a minimum of 2 minutes and gradually work up to 15 minutes.
  • To close, gently bring your attention back to your surroundings and notice any changes you may feel.

2 – MOVE YOUR BODY

This may sound counter-intuitive when it comes to grounding, but oftentimes meeting anxious energy “where it’s at” is the perfect solution to burn off excess emotion and anxiety so you can feel more at home in your body, clearer mentally (thanks to all those post-exercise endorphins) and grounded in your recovery process.

Try a gentle yoga class (there are plenty of free options on YouTube!), a brisk walk or run outside in the sunshine and fresh air, a dance or Zumba class, or simply turning up your favorite tunes, clearing furniture and dancing like no one’s watching can do your soul a world of good!

TIPS

  • If you find it difficult to sit and do the above breathing exercise without feeling all kinds of distracted, moving your body first may be just the thing to help you settle down and focus.
  • Try moving your body using the 4-count breath exercise above!

3 – GET GROUNDED

Literally.  In the yoga world, common postures that ease anxiety all involve being on the floor, close to the grounding energy of the earth.   Here are a couple of my favorites suitable for ANY body shape, size, or flexibility level. 

Supine Twist 

  • Lying flat on your back, extend your arms to a T-position, shoulder height, palms face down.
  • Bring your knees toward your chest. Your knees can be touching or separated depending on what’s most comfortable for your body. 
  • Take a 4-count inhale – and as you exhale, drop your knees to the right, allowing them to come as close to or touch the floor as possible.
  • Keep your left arm extended. If your shoulder rises off the floor, try placing a pillow or folded towel or blanket under your right knee in order to ground your left shoulder.
  • If it’s OK for your neck, you may turn your gaze toward your outstretched left arm.
  • Hold for 5-10 full breath cycles (4 count inhale, 4 count exhale)
  • Repeat on the other side.

 Legs Up the Wall 

  • Locate a blank space of wall in a quiet spot of your home or office.
  • If you have hardwood floors, consider laying on a blanket or padded yoga mat for support. You can find inexpensive mats at Target, Marshall’s or TJ Maxx.
  • Sit on the floor, turn to one side and slide your seat as close to the baseboard or wall as possible.
  • Carefully lower to your forearms, sliding your legs up the wall so that eventually you’re lying flat, perpendicular to the wall with your legs comfortably resting on the wall.
  • Practice your 4-count breath exercise from step #1 and stay for up to 10 minutes.

Give these a whirl and let me know if they helped to ease anxiety after narcissistic abuse! Do you have any other go-to grounding techniques that take the edge off?  Tell me all about them in the comments below!

BIO: Bethany Dotson is a yoga teacher, yoga therapist, and narcissistic abuse survivor who now helps women who are leaving toxic relationships and other tricky life transitions to recover their sense of self, confidence, and purpose using the powerful healing practices of yoga and mindfulness.  Connect with her at www.bethanydotson.com

You can also find her on social media here:  on Instagram @bethanydotson  or FB @BethanyDotsonYogaTherapy 

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9 comments
Anonymous says October 3, 2019

I find that child’s pose is very helpful for anxiety. I use the sublime twist for this as well. Thanks for the tips and positivity.

Reply
Mikko says August 19, 2019

I am still trying to leave everyday I let him kill who I use to be a little more I have no family and the so called friends that I use to have didn’t believe me after they met him, so I’m completely isolated I do good for a day or two than I break down and answer his text because I get lonely and than instantly regret it please if someone anyone can help me get through this I would really be so grateful thank you

Reply
Carolyn says July 13, 2019

A little late. My children told me about their father’s behavior. Nàrcsissist. 21 months ago is the first time I’ve heard that. We are out. Trying to move on together. He left us behind for another narcissist woman. God loves us and we got away. I don’t think he will ever try to find us. I hope he never will.

Reply
Nancy Iuliucci says June 29, 2019

i am in week 3 of the silent treatment,i have moved out and 140 miles away.
i stopped crying about a week ago,it was a 20 yr marriage. I just started these grounding techniques for the anxiety i feel.
this website has been a godsend to me, i am realizing that everything wrong in that mans life was not my fault. he did a good job crushing my self worth,confidence but i got tired of the physical,mental,emotional abuse. final straw 2 broken ribs

Reply
    Cat says September 15, 2019

    You will feel better stay away and find yourself again be happy.your strong
    Listen to hellen ready I’m an strong and invincible I’m women

    Reply
Sarah says June 26, 2019

I have found it has helped me to feel calm & strong if I imagine a spiral of energy extending from my centre & connecting with the earth & another spiral of energy extending from my centre & connecting with the sky.

Reply
    Kim Saeed says June 26, 2019

    Sounds lovely, Sarah. I’ve done something similar and it is indeed grounding 🙂

    Kim

    Reply
Geraldine says April 7, 2019

I am enjoying the breathing exercises. Very good, thank you.

Reply
    Bethany says April 8, 2019

    Awesome, Geraldine so glad you’re finding them helpful!

    Reply
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