Grounding Techniques for Stress and Anxiety
Grounding Exercises for Anxiety Relief
Grounding techniques are effective in reducing symptoms when anxiety and panic are triggered. Grounding techniques are also helpful for those who experience dissociation, depersonalization, or PTSD flashbacks and triggers. When feeling stressed and anxious, try a grounding exercise to calm down and stay in the present moment.
Often, our anxiety makes us lose our sense of the environment around us as we become caught up in a panic with a pounding heartbeat and fear of an anxiety trigger. Mental health therapists teach self-grounding techniques to their clients to help with a variety of stress disorders.
Self-grounding techniques can be as simple as counting, bringing your surroundings into your senses, stamping your feet, imagery, breathing, or holding a familiar object. There are so many different techniques that I'm sure you'll find one that works for you.
What Triggers Your Anxiety?
Keep a diary or journal of your triggers. I've found that just knowing what will trigger my anxiety has helped me cope. I have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in which my body is on hyperarousal. It's like having a panic attack that just won't stop. I've had to learn ways to teach my body to calm down from this extreme anxiety. Rather than using just one technique, I use several different methods so that I have a toolbox of tools for anxiety relief.
I started by writing down some of the situations that I know will trigger an anxiety attack. Being able to identify some of the potential triggers for me helps me to practice calming and grounding techniques before the anxiety gets wound up on full throttle. Of course, you can't always predict anxiety causing situations, but when you can, it makes it a lot easier when you are prepared.
Use Your Senses to Ground Yourself
I use this grounding technique most often because it requires me to think a lot about what's going on around me. It keeps me in the present moment and reminds me that I'm safe when feeling triggered.
- Eyes:Name 3 things you see.
I see a toy wagon, a blue and white car, and a white rabbit.
- Nose:Name 3 things you smell.
I smell flowers, fresh cut grass, and coffee.
- Ears:Name 3 things you hear.
I hear the rain falling, a baby crying, and a train rumbling.
- Touch:Name 3 things you feel.
I feel the warm wind on my face, the blister on my toe, and the ring on my finger.
What to Do When You Space Out
- Use a grounding phrase such as, "I'm okay," or "I'm safe."
- Focus on your breath. Inhale, and count to six; exhale while you count to four.
- Chew gum. If it's bubble gum, blow bubbles.
- Stomp your feet on the ground.
- Image yourself by the ocean and visualize the waves going in and out.
- Write out your feelings in a journal.
- Hold onto something comforting like a soft, stuffed bear, a blanket, or a pet.
- Go for a walk or run. Focus on the world around you.
- Progressively relax your muscles starting with your feet, working your way up your body and releasing the tension as you go.
- Take a shower or a bath. Focus on feeling the water on your body.