If you have ever weathered an anxiety or panic attack, you know just how difficult it can be to return to calm and balanced state of mind. Grounding exercises —such as naming streets in your old neighborhood, or reciting vital information about yourself — can help, so I have picked out nine poems for anxiety to help you ground you during a panic attack.
My anxiety impacts just about every facet of my life, so I am truly grateful that it can be controlled with medication. That doesn't mean I don't still have anxiety attacks, however. While I favor breathing exercises and the "Peace Begins with Me" meditation to stabilize myself in the event of an attack, I also turn to certain poems and songs I have memorized to help me get through moments of panic, stress, and migraines.
The nine poems below are short to mid-length works that you can probably memorize in a day. Some of them are openly uplifting, but none of them is overtly religious, so you'll be able to find a poem to ground you, no matter which belief system you subscribe to. The less inspirational poems I've included below have rhythms that make them perfect for memorization and recitation.
Check out the nine poems I think can help to ground you during an anxiety attack:
'The New Colossus' by Emma Lazarus
Emma Lazarus' "The New Colossus" gave the Statue of Liberty its inscription, and it will give you the centering you need in order to carry on:
"Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles."
'Up-Hill' by Christina Rossetti
Christina Rossetti's "Up-Hill" is the perfect poem to memorize and recite whenever your anxiety tells you that whatever is your life isn't going to get better:
"Does the road wind up-hill all the way?
Yes, to the very end.
Will the day’s journey take the whole long day?
From morn to night, my friend."
'Hymn to Time' by Ursula K. Le Guin
If the vastness of the universe makes you feel small and insignificant, Ursula K. Le Guin's poem will help you to find the beauty in our uncertain exsistence.
"Time says “Let there be”
every moment and instantly
there is space and the radiance
of each bright galaxy."
'Interrogation of the Hanged Man' by Monica Youn
The Q&A cadence of this poem makes it great to recite as a grounding exercise, and it's easy to repeat as many times as you need to make yourself feel better.
"What is your face?
A house, of sorts.
What is your foot?
A chipped stone blade."
'Turn of a Year' by Joan Houlihan
This absolutely gorgeous poem feels wonderful to read and speak aloud, and the affirming final verse will make you want to recite it every day.
"Where newborn pieties spark and strike
I will make my peace as a low bulb
burnt into a dent of snow. A cloth to keep me
from seeping. Light crumpled over a hole."