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What are grounding techniques and how can they help with my anxiety?

In moments of anxiety or panic, finding effective coping mechanisms is essential to regain stability and control. Grounding techniques are powerful tools that can redirect our focus from troubling thoughts or overwhelming feelings and allow us to reconnect with the present moment. Through practices that anchor us in our bodies and surroundings, grounding techniques empower us to take control of our emotions and maintain our well-being.

Below are a few grounding techniques that you can try to incorporate into your daily life.

  1. Grounding Objects: Keep a small, soothing object with you in your purse or pocket. Consider using a crystal or stone, a soft piece of fabric, a stress ball, or even a fidget spinner. An object that has a special or sentimental connection to you would make a great choice, too. Whenever you are feeling panicked or overwhelmed, take a moment to hold the object and shift your focus to how the object feels in your hand. Notice the weight and texture. If it has a sentimental connection to you, try to focus on that and the good memories it may bring. Does the object transport you back to a special time or place, or remind you of a loved one who brought you comfort? Allow your grounding object to be your calming anchor.
  2. Mindful Movement: Practices like Yoga, Tai Chi, or even taking a walk in nature can help clear our heads and avoid anxiety or panic attacks. Yoga and Tai Chi both involve slow movements with breathing exercises that help immerse us in a meditative state. Both are also known to help us sleep better and have many health benefits. A walk outside in nature and fresh air is an excellent way to ground ourselves and step away from anxious or intrusive thoughts. When you take part in these activities, pay attention to the sensations that you feel as your breath fills and leaves your lungs. Notice how your entire body feels as it smoothly changes positions.
  3. Visualization: Try closing your eyes and visualizing yourself in a safe and peaceful environment. This can be an imagined environment, such as a peaceful beach at sunset or a tranquil forest. You can also visualize yourself in environments that you have previously felt safe and peaceful in, such as a relative or friend’s house, or maybe a park you used to camp at as a child. Some people like to refer to this as going to their “happy place.” As you imagine yourself in your preferred environment, whether it is indoors or outdoors, picture yourself planting your feet firmly into the earth, feeling supported and grounded with each breath that you take.
  4. Sensory Awareness: People often find it calming to pick out objects in their surroundings that they can identify with each of their senses. This is called the 5-4-3-2-1 Grounding Technique. Using this can take you out of your head and ground you in the present. The next time that you are panicked or anxious, find five objects in your surroundings and name them each to yourself. Next, seek out four objects that you can touch around you. Try to find objects with different textures and take your time to feel the difference in each one. Now, listen closely for three different things that you can hear. After this, acknowledge two things that you can smell. You might have to seek something out – like the soap in your kitchen or your fresh coffee. Lastly, notice one thing that you can taste. Maybe there is an aftertaste of your morning coffee, or a cup of coffee next to you that you can take a sip of.

 

These techniques serve as valuable resources in managing anxiety and navigating the challenges each day can bring. By grounding yourself in the present moment through visualization, sensory stimulation, and other practices, you can regain control over your thoughts and emotions. As you incorporate these techniques into your daily life, you not only enhance your well-being but cultivate your resilience.

If you want to find tangible strategies such as these to help you overcome anxiety, PTSD, or any other difficult feelings you are going through reach out to schedule an appointment with one of the clinicians at the Coping Resource Center.

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