Are you looking for ways to calm your anxiety? Today we’ll discuss powerful grounding techniques for anxiety and how to use them.
Anxiety is a common mental health condition that affects millions of people worldwide. It can be triggered by various factors such as stress, trauma, or genetic predisposition, and can cause intense feelings of fear, worry, and nervousness.
Grounding techniques for anxiety are a set of tools and practices that can help individuals to stay present and focused on the current moment. They can be used in moments of stress or panic to help individuals regain a sense of control and calm.
In this article, we will explore some of the most effective grounding techniques for anxiety, including the 54321 method for anxiety, grounding objects, and grounding techniques for PTSD.
This article is all about grounding techniques for anxiety.
Grounding Techniques For Anxiety
How grounding works
Before we introduce the grounding techniques for anxiety, I think it’s important to understand what grounding is and how it works. Grounding is a method that assists an individual in returning to the present moment, typically using the five senses. This is especially useful for anyone who experiences anxiety, dissociation, or any other PTSD symptoms. Most grounding techniques also reset the nervous system from fight or flight to rest and digest. How? The methods either stimulate the Vagus nerve, or are known to be a clinically proven way to self regulate the nervous system. By practicing these methods, in actuality, you’re doing two amazing things for your mind and body at once.
Let’s get into the techniques!
1. Deep Breathing
Deep breathing is a simple yet effective grounding technique that can help individuals calm their nervous system and reduce feelings of anxiety. When we become anxious, we actually restrict oxygen flow. Our breathing becomes very shallow. By breathing deeply into the belly, you begin activating the Vagus Nerve. The vagus nerve is the main nerve in the parasympathetic system, which is the rest and reset function for our body.
To practice deep breathing, find a quiet place to sit or lie down and focus on your breath. Take slow, deep breaths through your nose, hold for a few seconds, and then exhale slowly through your mouth. You can imagine sighing out everything that is upsetting you, letting it go into the Universe.
Repeat this process for several minutes until you feel more relaxed.
2. Mindfulness Meditation
Mindfulness meditation is a technique that involves focusing your attention on the present moment without judgment. It can help individuals with anxiety to cultivate a sense of calm and reduce the impact of negative thoughts and feelings. This is a great preventative grounding technique for anxiety. In other words, it might not be best to use while having a panic attack, but it is an incredible tool to lessen episodes.
A few examples of mindfulness meditation are:
- Walking meditation and becoming aware of what you see on your walk
- Body scan meditation and noticing how you feel in different parts of your body
- Breathwork meditation, perhaps using box breathing, 4-7-8 technique, or the wim hoff method
- Guided meditations for self soothing.
With more practice, you will notice your mind naturally remaining in the present moment with the ability to calm your nervous system.
3. Grounding Objects
Grounding objects are physical items that can be used to help individuals with anxiety feel more connected to the present moment. They can be anything that provides a sense of comfort and stability, such as a favorite blanket, a piece of jewelry, or a stone. Textures that bring instant reassurance are the best. If you are a fan of smooth, a polished stone might be best. Whereas if you prefer soft, a yarn or fabric will do the trick. Simply holding or touching the grounding object can provide a sense of calm and stability.
Some like to carry their grounding objects in their pockets or purse to have them nearby at all times.
Another option instead of a grounding object is aromatherapy. If smell helps you more than touch, having an essential oil like Lavender or Eucalyptus in your purse might facilitate a more calming experience for you.
4. Muscle Relaxation
Muscle relaxation is a grounding technique for anxiety that involves consciously tensing and then relaxing different muscle groups in the body. This technique can help individuals with anxiety to release physical tension within the body and reduce feelings of stress.
To practice muscle relaxation, find a comfortable place to sit or lie down and focus on your breath. Begin by tensing the muscles in your toes for a few seconds, then release the tension and feel the relaxation in your feet. Repeat this process with each muscle group, working your way up your body.
If this doesn’t seem like an appealing option, dancing is another great way to release anxiety within the body while releasing endorphins. Place your favorite song on and let your body freely move without judgment. It’s also a nice reminder that recovery can be fun.
Visualization is a technique that involves creating a mental image of a place that is peaceful, calming and where you feel the most relaxed. This technique is often suggested for veterans1 and can help individuals with anxiety to feel more relaxed and reduce feelings of stress.
To practice visualization, find a quiet place to sit or lie down and close your eyes. Place one hand on your stomach and one on your heart to reconnect with your body. Take a deep breath in through the nose, and then sigh it out through the mouth. Imagine yourself in a peaceful, calming environment, such as a beach or a forest. Use your senses to fully immerse yourself in the scene. What do you hear, smell, see in that space you created?
Try to stay focused on the image for several minutes.
6. Sensory Grounding
Sensory grounding is a technique that involves using your senses to stay present in the moment. This method is perfect for when you are in the midst of an anxiety attack.
To practice sensory grounding, take a few deep breaths and then focus on each of your senses in turn. Notice the sounds around you, the sensations on your skin, the smells in the air, the tastes in your mouth, and the sights around you.
The 333 Method goes slightly more in depth in asking to identify three things you see, then name three things you hear, and finally move three parts of your body.
Another sensory grounding technique for anxiety is the 54321 method2, in which you name:
- 5 things you see
- 4 things you feel
- 3 things you hear
- 2 things you smell
- 1 thing you taste
Grounding Techniques for PTSD
Anxiety is very common for those who have PTSD. There are a variety of grounding techniques specifically to help PTSD patients. As someone who has CPTSD, here are a few I’d recommend trying. Like with everything in life, some methods will work better than others. Find what is best for you.
I found this step-by-step guide from Medical News3 to be perfect for dissociation or flashbacks:
- Place the feet firmly on the ground.
- State the date and time.
- Take slow, deep breaths.
- State what they can observe in their present environment.
- Remind themselves that they are in a safe place right now.
- Observe their immediate surroundings and describe items in the room or environment.
Yin Yoga is a lesser known way to sooth anxiety. There is the theory when we slow down the body by hold poses longer, the body switches into relaxation. I have found by getting deeper into the connective tissues, it helps release the tension and muscle memory of the trauma. Reducing over all anxiety.
You may also like to read the best physical self care to implement daily.
Nadi shodhana breathwork, but specifically breathing through the left nostril.
More recently, scientific research suggests that left nostril breathing can activate parasympathetic ‘rest and digest’ response (the yogis knew!)..,meaning that it helps to lower blood pressure, decrease heart rate and encourage improved digestion and sleep.Matt gill Yoga
Any of the above mentioned techniques are also helpful for those who experience PTSD and need to ground into the present moment. Remember, this is a journey and to be patient with yourself as you practice.
In conclusion, grounding techniques are a set of tools and practices that can help individuals with anxiety to stay present and focused on the present moment. These techniques can be used in moments of stress or panic to help individuals regain a sense of control and calm. By practicing these techniques regularly, individuals with anxiety can build resilience and reduce the impact of anxiety on their daily lives.
This article was all about grounding techniques for Anxiety.
- “Veterans Affairs.” Go to VA.Gov, 19 May 2014, www.va.gov/vetsinworkplace/docs/em_eap_exercise_visualizing.asp.
- Marks, Julie. “The Best Grounding Techniques for Anxiety Relief.” Psych Central, 8 Oct. 2021, psychcentral.com/anxiety/using-the-five-senses-for-anxiety-relief#using-your-senses.
- “Grounding Techniques for Anxiety, PTSD, and Trauma.” Medical News Today, www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/grounding-techniques#when-to-use. Accessed 9 May 2023.