What Are Grounding Techniques For Anxiety?
What if we told you there are ways to stop anxiety attacks in their tracks to prevent them from consuming you? Well, there are. They’re called grounding techniques. Grounding is an effective way to calm anxiety during a panic attack. In this process, you identify objects around you to help your brain recognize where you are. This creates a sense of comfort because you know where you are and you feel more in control of the situation. Here are some grounding techniques for anxiety.
You can use grounding techniques to help create space from distressing feelings in nearly any situation, but they’re especially helpful if you’re dealing with:
- post-traumatic stress disorder
- self-harm urges
- traumatic memories
- substance use disorder
Put your hands in water:
Focus on the water’s temperature and how it feels on your fingertips, palms, and the backs of your hands. Does it feel the same in each part of your hand?
Use warm water first, then cold. Next, try cold water first, then warm. Does it feel different to switch from cold to warm water versus warm to cold?
Rub your palms together:
his is another way of channeling energy to your hands. Rub them together as fast as you can and generate heat through friction, focusing on expelling anxious energy through that heat.
Pick up or touch items near you:
Focus on the texture and color of each item. Challenge yourself to think of specific colors, such as crimson, burgundy, indigo, or turquoise, instead of simply red or blue.
Designate a grounding chair:
Pick a cozy chair in a quiet space in your home. Sit in it and think about how it feels as you sit. Lean back in the chair and imagine all of the negative emotions spilling out of your feet and onto the floor and relax every muscle on the way down.
Slowly inhale, then exhale. If it helps, you can say or think “in” and “out” with each breath.
Smell something familiar:
Smells, especially familiar ones, are powerful sensations. These can help you come back to the present moment. Pick a candle, a lotion, a cologne, an essential oil, or a hot beverage to smell when you need to ground yourself.
Try the 5-4-3-2-1 method:
- 5 things you can see
- 4 things you can feel
- 3 things you can hear
- 2 things you can smell
- 1 thing you can taste
Play a memory game:
A memory game is an effective and fun way to manage anxiety attacks. Play a memory card game on your phone or try to memorize details in a photograph and recreate the picture in your mind.
Picture someone you love:
If you feel upset or distressed, visualize someone positive in your life. Imagine their face or think of what their voice sounds like. Imagine them telling you that the moment is tough, but that you’ll get through it.
Repeat kind, compassionate phrases to yourself:
- Having a rough time, but you’ll make it through.
- You’re strong, and you can move through this pain.
- You’re trying hard, and you’re doing your best.
Think about numbers:
Doing math in your head is a great way to center your thoughts. Go through the timetables mentally or think of a few different equations that yield the same answer.
Think of a poem, song, or book passage you know by heart. Recite it quietly to yourself or in your head. If you say the words aloud, focus on the shape of each word on your lips and in your mouth. If you say the words in your head, visualize each word as you’d see it on a page.
Describe a common task:
Think of an activity you do often or can do very well, such as making coffee, locking up your office, or tuning a guitar. Go through the process step-by-step, as if you’re giving someone else instructions on how to do it.
Listen to music:
Put on your favorite song, but pretend you’re listening to it for the first time. Focus on the melody and lyrics. Pay attention to the parts that stand out most to you.
Grounding yourself isn’t always easy. It may take some time before the techniques work well for you, but don’t give up on them.
Here are some additional tips to help you get the most out of these techniques:
- Practice. It can help to practice grounding even when you aren’t dissociating or experiencing distress.
- Start early. Try doing a grounding exercise when you first start to feel bad. Don’t wait for distress to reach a level that’s harder to handle.
- Avoid assigning values. If you’re grounding yourself by describing your environment, concentrate on the basics of your surroundings, rather than how you feel about them.
Grounding techniques can be powerful tools to help you cope with distressing thoughts at the moment.
It’s important to get help from a therapist so you can address what’s causing your distress.