Grounding Techniques for Anxiety
If you’ve ever experienced anxiety, you know firsthand how hard it can be to calm down and take your mind off it. This is where the practice of using grounding techniques comes in handy. Grounding techniques are activities or exercises to bring yourself back to center or a more subdued state of mind.
Grounding can be helpful for both general anxiety and anxiety attacks. It is essential to experiment with different techniques and find out what works best for you because everyone is different. You know your body and anxiety best, so it is okay to try something else when an exercise or method isn’t helping enough.
Some examples of grounding techniques include:
Breathwork can feel challenging at first if you aren’t used to deep breathing, but it is incredibly helpful in grounding for anxiety and helping reduce general stress. Deep breathing helps activate the parasympathetic nervous system, which tells your brain you are safe and can start to relax. Box breathing can be helpful to getting used to breathing deeper. With box breathing, you breathe in for a count of four, hold for four, and breathe out for four.
2. Move your body
Movements as simple as stretching or walking around help you release some of that nervous energy and help you feel more centered in your body as you move it and get back in touch with it. Some light exercises can also help. The key is to remember to focus on how your body feels or moves while doing these activities.
3. The 5-4-3-2-1 method
To do this method, you begin with listing five things you can hear, then four things you can see, three you can touch or feel, two you can smell, and one thing you can taste. This method can help you ground and recenter into your environment even during a panic attack as it helps you change your focus and find things to shift your awareness to and away from the fear response.
Laughter can be a great distraction and method to help calm us down during times of stress. Finding a funny video to watch or having a friend tell you a joke provides you a moment to decompress. Laughing releases serotonin, which can help us feel better.
5. Touch a comforting item
Examples of this can be the sleeve of your favorite sweater or the smooth texture of a worry stone (a stone used to rub your thumb against as the smooth surface can be calming.) Touching a soft blanket or petting your pet can also be examples of items that could provide comfort and grounding.
6. Turn on music
Music is a powerful tool to help your mood. When feeling anxious, turning on music that you enjoy or that comforts you is a great way to shift your focus and allow yourself the space to calm down and bring yourself back to center.
7. Hold onto something cold
While holding onto an ice cube or pressing an ice pack or cold-water bottle to your chest, the temperature change can give you something else to focus on during a high anxiety moment. The cold temperature also activates the parasympathetic nervous system, similar to breathwork.
Practicing grounding can be an excellent way to help calm down and reduce anxiety. Fortunately, there are several different grounding techniques to try besides the ones listed above. So have patience with yourself and give yourself grace while you find the most beneficial ones for you.
Written by: Shelby Stern