10 Grounding Techniques To Try For Anxiety
Anxiety can be overwhelming, and sometimes, it can feel extremely difficult to pull your mind out of its anxious thoughts. If you are experiencing anxiety, you’re not alone—anxiety disorders affect around 40 million adults in the U.S. each year. But, there are techniques you can try to release these anxious thoughts and find a sense of calm.
Grounding techniques involve a range of practices aimed at focusing your attention on the present moment. In this article, we’ll detail 10 grounding techniques you can try to help with anxiety.
How Grounding Techniques Work
If you’re experiencing anxiety, you may find that at times, your mind becomes consumed with intense fear, worry, or even panic, and it can be difficult to get out of these unpleasant thoughts. Grounding techniques aim to help with this by pulling you back into the present moment, reconnecting your mind to the present rather than anxious thoughts.
Feelings of insecurity, restlessness, being disconnected from yourself or your surroundings, trouble concentrating, and looping thoughts can all be common symptoms of anxiety. Grounding techniques aim to take you away from these anxious thoughts and into the present, often by being mindfully aware of what is happening right here and right now. This can make you feel grounded, or connected to the moment, and help take you out of your repeating thoughts.
A few grounding techniques include deep breathing, meditation, and journaling. The same techniques may not work for everyone, but if you find some that work well for you, they may be able to help you find some relief in those moments when anxiety becomes overwhelming.
10 Grounding Techniques To Try For Anxiety
There are many grounding techniques that you can try when you're experiencing anxiety. Included below are 10 techniques to consider, but you can also add to this list as you find other approaches that may help you to reconnect with the present moment. If you familiarize yourself with these methods and they help you, you can have them in your toolkit anytime anxiety creeps up.
Use The Five Senses Technique Or 5-4-3-2-1 Method
One of the most common grounding techniques for anxiety is the five senses technique. In this exercise, you'll identify sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and physical sensations. This puts you in awareness of your surroundings and can make you feel more connected and in the present moment. One popular approach for using the five senses for grounding is the 5-4-3-2-1 method.
First, find five things that you can see, such as the poster next to you or the bird outside your window. Next, find four things that you can feel, such as the warmth from your socks or the softness of your pillow. Proceed to three things that you can hear, such as the leaves rustling outside or even your stomach grumbling. Then, identify two things that you can smell, such as the scent of your linen or the shampoo you used in your hair. Finally, identify one thing you can taste, such as the aftertaste of toothpaste or a sip of tea.
Practice Deep Breathing
For this approach, try to focus on your breathing. Breathe in slowly and deeply from your core, and breathe out slowly, imagining all your worry and anxiety leaving your body as you exhale. Sometimes counting while breathing in and out can further calm your mind. You may find counting to four while inhaling, holding for a count of four, exhaling for a count of four, and holding at the bottom for a count of four to be helpful in refocusing your thoughts and slowing your heart rate.
Another approach to try is meditation, which can take many forms. If you are new to meditation, you might find guided meditation especially helpful, which can involve following along as a teacher explains the practice and leads the meditation. You can experiment with different types of meditation, such as a body scan, visualization, or mantra meditation, to find what works well for you.
There are many ways to practice mindfulness, which involves paying close attention to where you are and what you’re doing. For this, you might try tracing your hands around the physical outline of your body and being aware of your presence in the world. This can help you feel more connected to yourself when your anxiety makes you feel disconnected. Or, try to eat or drink something while focusing on the sensations. Is it hot or cold? How does it taste? You could also take a bath or shower and pay attention to the experience. Concentrate on the sensations of the water on your skin or the smell of the shampoo.
Use Music Or Sound
Another grounding technique can involve listening to music and paying attention to the lyrics or instrumentals. Try to keep your focus on the song itself, paying close attention to each sound. Or, if you prefer, you can also try using your voice or calling a friend and hearing their voice. You can pick up a book and read aloud the first paragraph you see, or call a friend and have a chat. The chat can be about anything at all, but focus your attention on the words they’re saying and the sound of their voice.
Touch Something Hot Or Cold
Another approach to try is to use different temperatures to focus your mind on the warmth or coolness of what you’re touching. You could run your hands under cold water, hold onto an ice cube, make a cup of hot tea and hold the mug in both hands, or use a heating pad on your back and focus on the temperature.
Observe Your Surroundings
For this approach, try to take a close look at your surroundings and really notice the traits of what you’re observing. Look outside a window and notice the colors of the trees, count the cars, notice the shapes of the leaves, and notice the clouds in the sky. Or, notice the shape of a lamp, the color of your couch, and the pattern on your blanket.
Another approach can involve focusing on specific things that you are grateful for and writing them down. For instance, you can list out five positive things in your life, they can be big or small. Maybe you are grateful for the warmth streaming in from your window, the delicious cup of coffee you had that morning, or the friendship of a close friend.
Hold Something Comfortable
For this approach, find something that you find comforting, and hold onto it. It could be a pillow, a blanket, a stuffed animal, a smooth seashell, a favorite t-shirt, or anything that feels nice to touch and brings you comfort. Think about the sensations you feel when touching it.
Move Your Body
Movement doesn't have to be intense or extensive. Jump up and down on the spot. Do some quick yoga poses. Go for a walk or ride a bike if you're able. Even changing your position can also help you be more mindful. Change the way you're sitting, stand up for a moment, or even just wiggle your fingers or toes.
How BetterHelp Can Help
While grounding techniques can be a helpful tool to have in your arsenal in the moments when anxiety arises, it may also be useful to seek help from a therapist to try to address the sources of your anxiety and create a more comprehensive treatment plan. For anxiety disorders, cognitive behavioral therapy and certain medications have both been shown to be helpful; as noted by the American Psychological Association, research generally shows that therapy may be more effective than medications for anxiety.
If you are experiencing anxiety, the thought of calling around to find an available therapist and then traveling to a new location and meeting someone in-person may feel very intimidating. With online therapy through BetterHelp, you can match with a therapist online and meet with your therapist from the comfort of your own home.
Research has shown that online therapy can be an effective option for those with anxiety. For instance, one research study examined the effectiveness of an online acceptance-based behavioral intervention using videoconferencing for individuals with social anxiety disorder (SAD). It found that individuals who received the intervention experienced significant improvements in social anxiety, “with effect sizes comparable to or larger than previously published results of studies delivering in-person CBT for SAD.”
See below for some reviews of BetterHelp counselors from individuals experiencing similar concerns.
"Shana was such a comforting, thoughtful, and helpful presence in my life when I felt like I was spiraling. She actively listened to my worries and concerns, I never felt judged, and at the end of each session she always gave me something on which to reflect in the coming week. I'm grateful for my time with her and can't recommend her more highly for anyone who's looking for a therapist/counselor."
"David has been my greatest support in navigating issues that were simply holding me back from being happy. Before working with David, I was suffering from anxiety due to relationship issues and career changes that were putting me in a bad place. We worked on everything step by step and I can say, with great gratitude, that I feel much stronger and happier now, after only a few months. I've managed to rebuild that strength in time with his help. He's also never missed a session and always went the extra mile to help with everything he could. Thanks, David!"
Anxiety can feel overwhelming sometimes, but there are techniques you can try to find a sense of calm. With grounding techniques, you can use a range of practices to try to focus your attention on the present moment and your immediate surroundings. These techniques can include meditation, the 5-4-3-2-1 method, deep breathing, and more. For additional support with anxiety, online therapy can help.
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