I personally have lived with anxiety my entire life. Well, as long as I can remember. It isn’t easy and it’s not fun. But as I’ve learned during the past several years is that if you live with anxiety it’s crucial that you also know a good deal of coping skills to combat that anxiety.
Anxiety disorders are actually the most common mental health disorder in the United States. They may strike at any time, and often without warning. It is estimated that up to 18% of adults will experience an anxiety disorder in their lifetime.
Grounding techniques for anxiety are a great form of coping skill to help you feel more centered and in control when you start feeling anxious. They can center us in the present moment by bringing our attention away from thoughts about the past or future, which can fuel anxiety.
Here, are 5 grounding techniques to use anywhere when your anxiety is getting out of hand.
What are grounding techniques?
Before we talk about the 5 actual techniques, let’s talk about what grounding techniques actually are. Grounding is a technique that brings your focus back to the present moment. When you feel your anxiety taking over, grounding techniques help you to refocus your attention on what’s going on in that moment.
Grounding techniques for anxiety can be used in a variety of situations:
At home: when you feel like you’re losing control
At work: when you start worrying about things outside of work
In social situations: when you start to feel uncomfortable
On the go: when you find yourself ruminating on worries
Grounding techniques are helpful because they can be done anywhere at any time.
3 Categories of Grounding Techniques
Breathing: This is a great way to calm down and get centered. Close your eyes and breathe slowly and deeply for a few minutes. If you have a hard time breathing from your nose, try breathing from your mouth. Breathing exercises have been shown to lower anxiety, as well as help to control panic attacks.
Sometimes, people struggle to differentiate between grounding and cognitive behavioral therapy. Grounding is a form of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) that focuses on the present moment and has a calming effect. CBT is a therapeutic method that helps people change negative thoughts and behaviors. It is often used to help people manage their anxiety or depression.
Visualization: This is a meditation technique that involves imagining yourself in a place where you feel secure, calm, and grounded. Find a place where you feel comfortable and safe — it can be anywhere from an empty beach to your childhood bedroom — and take time to visualize what it looks like, smells like, sounds like, etc.
Staying Present: One of the most common reasons why people develop anxiety is because they are constantly worrying about the future or what may happen next. Staying present throughout the day can be extremely difficult.
Technique 1: Breathe in for 3 seconds, out for 3 seconds.
Repeat the word ‘calm,’ out loud.
Count backward from 10.
Name five things you can see.
Name five things you can touch.
Name five things you can hear.
Technique 2: Imagine you are at your favorite place.
When it’s time to get your grounding on, close your eyes and take a deep breath. Picture yourself at your favorite place. It may be a favorite place from your childhood or a place you’ve recently visited.
Wherever it is, try and picture the scene in as much detail as you can.
What colors can you see?
What sounds can you hear?
What does it smell like?
It may help to start with the senses of smell and sound before adding visual details of the scene. When you feel like you’ve had enough, open your eyes and take a deep breath.
Technique 3: Practice positive self-talk.
Practice positive self-talk. When you’re feeling anxious, it can be difficult to find the right words. However, talking to yourself in a positive way can help you feel better. When you say anything to yourself, it’s called “self-talk.” When you say nice things to yourself it’s called “positive self-talk” and when you talk harshly to yourself it’s called “negative self-talk.”
When you practice self-talk, it can help soothe your anxieties. Here are some examples of positive self-talk to try out:
“I’m doing okay.”
“I’m safe now.”
“It’s okay to be anxious.”
“I’m happy now.”
“Everything will be all right.”
Technique 4: Get grounded by touching something familiar.
Something helpful is keeping a familiar object in a place specifically for grounding so that when anxiety starts you can easily access it. Touching an object that is familiar to you can help you feel grounded after a panic attack or anxious thought. Touching your wrist, a piece of jewelry, a pet, or a family member will remind you that you are safe and not in the danger your anxiety is telling you that you’re in.
Technique 5: Create a mantra
A mantra is a word or phrase that is repeated over and over again to help one feel grounded and focused. You can create a mantra that best suits your needs. This could also be a positive affirmation that you feel helps you affirm you are on the correct path or that you are safe and okay.
For example, if you are experiencing anxiety about a situation, you may want to repeat “I am safe” as your mantra. This can help focus on your safety as opposed to the negative thoughts or feelings you are having about the situation.
The grounding techniques listed above are a great starting point for those suffering from anxiety. The more often you practice these techniques, the more effective they will be for you. One technique that you may want to try is taking a few deep breaths. The simple act of focusing on your breathing can help bring your focus back to the present moment and can help you feel more grounded and relaxed.
Keep in mind that if you feel like your anxiety is not subsiding or getting better, it is important to seek professional help in the form of a mental health provider. You may have an anxiety disorder, or be suffering from another mental illness. There are many treatments available for anxiety disorders, and it’s important to seek treatment when possible.
*This article was originally published on Medium