Mastering various grounding techniques for anxiety is crucial for managing anxiety, unwanted memories, negative emotions, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). After a traumatic experience, you may often have flashbacks and anxiety attacks. You may also be overwhelmed with feelings of worry and find yourself spiraling in negative thoughts.
When this happens, it’s vital to get control of your emotions and focus on the present. Grounding techniques help you do this. We explore grounding techniques and how they help with anxiety and panic attacks. We’ve also shared some grounding techniques to help you deal with the situation effectively.
What Are Grounding Techniques?
Grounding techniques are tools that allow you to cope in moments of anxiety and stress. They redirect your focus from what’s causing the worry or panic attack to the present moment. Furthermore, these techniques turn off the part of your brain that responds in “flight, fright, and freeze.”
As a result, you find yourself in a calmer and more controlled state of mind. However, grounding techniques are not only effective for anxiety and panic attacks. They are also useful in dealing with everyday stressors.
Physical Grounding Techniques
When you’re experiencing a panic or anxiety attack, the first thing to do is to get back control of your body. Beginning with the body and moving to the brain makes it easier to take control of your emotions.
There are several physical grounding techniques for panic attacks and anxiety you should try. These include.
Controlled breathing is an excellent grounding technique. It allows you to focus on your body and regain control of your thoughts and emotions. For the best results, try the “Boxed Breathing Technique”. Breathe in for 4 seconds, hold for 4 seconds, exhale for 4 seconds, hold again, and repeat.
Pick or Touch Items Near You
Another excellent grounding technique that works wonders is using your sense of touch. Something as simple as running your hand through water helps. Pay attention to how it feels, and you’ll notice your mind slowly shifting to the present.
Move Your Body
You can also connect with your body through movements. Simple exercises shift your focus from the anxiety to the sensations in your body arising from the exercise. You can also try simple stretches or yoga because they have the same effect.
Engaging your senses is also an effective grounding technique. The best strategy to use is the 5-4-3-2-1 technique. Here, you’re supposed to focus on the moment, using five senses. For example, you may list 5 things you can see around you, 4 things you can hear, 3 things you can touch, 2 things you can smell, and 1 thing you can taste. By doing so, you’re slowly getting your mind back to the present.
Feel Your Body
One of the simplest grounding techniques for anxiety is feeling your body. You have different options here.
For example, you can:
- Rub your hands together
- Massage your temples
- Clench your fists to release tension
- Stamp your feet on the ground, paying attention to the sensations
- Place your feet flat on the ground and wiggle your toes, while paying attention to the sensation.
Muscle Relaxation Exercises
Muscle relaxation exercises are also effective grounding techniques. Here, the idea is to tighten your muscles and slowly release them. You can start with your toes and work up to your thighs and hands or focus on one body part. Pay attention to the sensations and relaxation that comes from doing so.
Engage Your Senses
To get yourself in the present, it’s also crucial to activate your senses. These grounding techniques should involve your 5 senses – taste, feel, touch, see, and taste. For instance, you can hold a piece of ice, smell an essential oil, savor a food or drink, or watch your favorite TV show.
Mental Grounding Techniques
Mental exercises are also an excellent way to distract yourself from your feelings of worry and anxiety. The trick is to find an exercise that redirects your focus and gives you relaxation. There are plenty of exercises you can try.
Some examples include:
- Play a memory game
- Use math and numbers
- Describe what’s around you
- Read something backward
- Name all your family members
- Spell your name backward
- Pick an object and describe it in detail
Soothing Grounding Techniques
Soothing grounding techniques for panic attacks and anxiety will also go a long way. When you’re feeling worried, scared, anxious, or depressed, diverting your focus is crucial. You need to try different things that make you feel good. A favorite activity always does the trick. Consider the following options as well.
When you’re going through a rough time, it’s inevitable to have accompanying negative thoughts. However, you should stop these thoughts in their tracks. Use statements of affirmations like, “It’s only a rough day, you’ve got this.” Repeat these positive affirmations until you feel better.
Listen To Music
Music helps you relax by affecting the amount of stress that your body releases. When you find yourself spiraling in negative thoughts, turn on your favorite music and dance to the tune. Before you know it, you’ll be feeling so much better.
List Positive Things
Panic attacks and anxiety can make you focus only on the negatives. Divert your focus by listing all the positive things happening in your life.
Play With Your Pet
Petting your pet also goes a long way in soothing you and redirecting your focus. Pay attention to how your hand feels moving on their fur. Also, look at the intricate details in their features to focus on something different.
Visualize Something Positive in Your Life
No matter what you’re going through, there’s always something positive happening. Dig deep and identify those positives and start thinking about them.
Grounding techniques for anxiety and panic attacks are a lifesaver if you suffer from an anxiety disorder. They also work for depression and other negative thoughts. So try these techniques every time you feel you’re overwhelmed with negative emotions. Also, consider seeing a licensed therapist who can help you deal with the situation even more effectively.
Kate has a B.S. in Psychology and M.A. in Clinical Psychology from Pepperdine University and has worked in healthcare since 2017. She primarily treated depression, anxiety, eating disorders, trauma, and grief, as well as identity, relationship and adjustment issues. Her clinical experience has focused on individual and group counseling, emergency counseling and outreach.Read more