22 Best Grounding Techniques For Anxiety
Updated December 18, 2018
Reviewer Rashonda Douthit , LCSW
Anxiety disorders and feeling anxious in specific situations is more common than you might think. According to recent statistics, about 40 million Americans each year suffer from anxiety. Only about 31 percent of those people seek treatment.
Whether you are seeking treatment for your anxiety or not, grounding techniques for anxiety can be extremely beneficial. When you are in the midst of your highest anxiety, whatever situation might bring it on, you can use grounding techniques to help you become calmer and able to function at the moment.
Grounding techniques for anxiety can be more helpful for immediate relief than medication. Medication takes time to kick in, but grounding techniques can help you immediately feel better. Often a combination of grounding techniques, relaxation techniques, medication, and coping skills learned in therapy are the best combination for coping with anxiety.
Why Anxiety Grounding Techniques Work
There are many types of anxiety, and they all have different symptoms. One study found that patients could be classified into different types of anxiety simply by their responses to the Beck Anxiety Inventory, which is a measurement of symptoms of anxiety. However, some symptoms are quite common throughout all types of anxiety, and these are what grounding techniques assist you with.
Feelings of insecurity, restlessness, being disconnected from yourself or your surroundings, trouble concentrating, and looping thoughts are all common symptoms of anxiety. These symptoms are usually present regardless of what type of anxiety you have, and these are the very symptoms that grounding techniques work for.
When you practice grounding techniques, you are putting yourself in the moment. Grounding techniques for anxiety take you out of your mind and into the present. It is about being mindfully aware of what is happening right now at the moment and bringing your awareness to the world around you. This can make you feel grounded, or connected, and outside of your looping thoughts.
Anxiety Grounding Techniques 5 Senses
One of the most common grounding techniques for anxiety is the five senses technique. In this exercise, you will identify things that you can sense with your five senses. This puts you in awareness of your surroundings and can make you feel more connected and in the present.
The common method for using the five senses for grounding is the 5-4-3-2-1 method. First, find five things that you can see and say them out loud. Next find four things you can feel, such as the warmth from your socks or coat or the softness of your pillow. Then find three things that you can hear and say them out loud. If you are in a quiet room, you might have trouble finding things you can hear, but it can be even the sound of your tummy rumbling.
Next, find two things that you can smell. Again, you may not be able to smell much of anything depending on your surroundings. If you can't identify two smells, think of your favorite smells and say them out loud. Finally, identify one thing that you can taste. It can be the toothpaste from brushing your teeth or the lingering taste of the soda you are drinking. By the time you have followed through all five of the senses, your mind should be away from whatever was making you anxious, and you should be mindfully in the present.
21 Anxiety Grounding Techniques
There are a lot of different things that you can do to ground yourself when you are suffering from high anxiety. You can certainly easily add to this list anything that brings you mindfully into the present and makes you aware of yourself and your surroundings.
The list of 21 anxiety grounding techniques was originally published by Kate White, a mental health blogger. The success people have had with these techniques has led it to be republished across the web on many sites, and you can find these same 21 anxiety grounding techniques in a variety of places online including all over Pinterest.
Grab the newspaper or pull it up online. Take careful note of the date, and then read an uplifting story about something going on in your community, the country, or the world. Do not read the bad news when you are in the midst of anxiety! Bookmarking a positive news site for this purpose may be helpful.
Breathe in slowly and deeply from your core, and breathe out slowly, imagining all of your worry and anxiety leaving your body as you exhale. Sometimes counting while breathing in and out can further calm your mind.
Trace your hands around the physical outline of your body and just be aware of your existence in the world. This can help you feel more connected to yourself when your anxiety makes you feel disconnected.
Call a Friend
Call a friend and have a chat. The chat can be about literally anything, but you should focus your attention on the conversation at the moment.
Changing your position can also help you be more mindful of your presence in the present. You can do anything from change the way you are sitting, stand up for a few moments, wiggle your fingers or wiggle your toes.
Mindfully Eat or Drink Something
Eat or drink something while focusing only on the sensations you have while consuming it. Is it hot or cold? How does it taste?
Meditation can take many forms. It's not for everyone, but you might give the various forms of meditation a try before you knock it. Of course, if meditation is just not right for you, you can also zone out to the television or music to calm down.
Use Your Voice
Use your voice, especially if you are alone. This will help bring you back to the present. You can say your name, read aloud whatever is in front of you at the time, or pick up a book and read aloud the first paragraph that takes your notice.
Look In the Mirror
Look at yourself in the mirror and smile, even if you don't feel like it. What do you see? How does it feel to smile? Don't allow negative thoughts about yourself to intrude.
Writing down what is happening right now at the moment can help you get the feeling of anxiety out of you. Keeping these writings as a journal can help you examine your triggers for your anxiety at a later date.
Take a bath or shower and pay attention to what you are doing and how it feels. Concentrate on the sensations of the water on your skin or the shampoo on your scalp.
Write an Email
Write to someone you care about an email, just to check in or ask them how they are doing. This gives your mind something to focus on besides whatever is making you anxious. You could also send a private message or direct message on social media.
Imagine a Comfortable Place
Imagine yourself in a safe and comfortable place. Feel the safety of it. Put yourself there and know it completely.
Look outside through a window or door and count the things you see. You can count the trees, or the stop signs, or the bushes, or even the cars on the road.
Exercise doesn't have to be planned 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.
Hold Onto Comfort
Hold onto something that you find comforting. It could be a pillow, a blanket, a stuffed animal, or a doll.
Laugh, even if it's hard to do. Force the laugh. Laughing can break the feeling that you are spinning out of control.
Make a list of the things that trigger your anxiety so that you can bring them to your therapist. They can then help you desensitize yourself to those triggers so that you don't get as anxious. They can also adjust coping skills to encompass those things.
List Furniture and Enlist A Friend
This one is particularly good if you suffer from PTSD or situational anxiety where you lose bearing of where you are. Make a list of furniture in your home and give it to a friend. When you feel disconnected and not aware of your surroundings, call the friend and have them list the furniture back to you while you go to each piece.
List five positive things that are going on in your life right now, and post the list somewhere you will see it when you get anxious. It will help you remember that the anxiety isn't always there and there is some good in the world.
Think back throughout the last week, and remember a time you did not feel anxious. What did that feel like? What can you change to make yourself feel that way again?
Too many people with anxiety suffer needlessly. Through a therapist, you could learn coping skills, desensitize yourself so that triggers no longer work to set off your anxiety, and change your way of thinking and behaving to decrease or eliminate your anxiety. Anxiety is very treatable, so don't put off contacting a therapist for help.