Grounding is a process that pulls your mind back to the present when you are experiencing high anxiety or panic attacks. They help to pull you away from the thought or fear that is driving your anxiety and get you back to being focused on the present moment. This post will share with you 12 effective grounding techniques for anxiety, depression and panic attacks.
Physical Grounding Techniques
Virtually all physical grounding techniques make use of one or more of your 5 senses (touch, smell, taste, sight, hearing). You’ve probably heard of some of them, but they are all effective techniques to help bring your mind back to the present and away from your anxiety.
Breathing. I’m sure you know of many different breathing techniques, but nothing beats the simple approach of breathing in deeply through your nose, then out slowly through your mouth. I prefer, and have used successfully, the approach that involves breathing in for 4 seconds, holding it for 4 seconds, breathing out for 4 seconds, holding it for 4 seconds and then repeating the process for as long as you need to. This is a very simple but effective technique that will have your mind focused on your breathing and counting, and away from your anxiety.
Put your hand in water. No, not hot water! It can either be warm or cold. As you put your hand in notice how it feels on your fingertips and then as you submerge your hand further notice how it feels on the back of your hand and on the palm of your hand. If you used warm water to do this, try switching to cold water and notice how different the sensations were between warm water and cold water.
Get moving. Try jumping up and down on the spot, running in place, jumping rope or doing some jumping jacks. Pay attention to the physical sensations you are feeling as you do it, including how your feet and legs feel each time you touch the floor and what muscle groups are getting tired as you go along.
The 5-4-3-2-1 technique. You can learn more about it here. This technique helps us to be present with our surroundings. Look around you and say out loud 5 things that you can see. Next name 4 things that you can touch and touch them. Then name 3 sounds that you can hear, followed by 2 things that you can smell. Finally, name one thing that you can taste. This may be a taste that is already in your mouth left over from the last thing you ate.
Feeling your body. Go through all of the parts of your body and notice how they feel. Start with your head and notice how your hair feels on different parts of your head. Then work your way down your body to your toes, noticing everything you can feel as you go. Take your time doing this, as the more time you spend focusing on all of these different sensations is less time spent focusing on what it is that made you anxious.
Go for a short walk. As you walk, pay close attention to things that you can feel, smell, see and hear. Start with how your body feels while you walk. Then notice everything around you. How does it smell? What does it look like. Can you hear any sounds, such as the wind in the trees, traffic driving by, or birds chirping.
Touch items nearby. Look around you for various items and pick them up and notice how they feel on your skin. Are they warm or cold? Are they heavy or light? Are there changes in the texture of their surface? Are they soft or hard?
Mental Grounding Techniques
Mental grounding techniques are a great way to distract your mind from the anxiety that you may be feeling. Here is a list of some that you can try at any time.
Counting. Make like the count from Sesame Street and start counting! You could try counting backwards from 100, going through your times tables or seeing how high you can count to without getting distracted or interrupted. Counting is a great mental technique to distract your mind.
Sing. You don’t have to sing out loud, and your neighbors will probably be grateful if you don’t. Think of any song that you know and run through the lyrics from start to finish in your head.
Describe a task. What activities or tasks do you do regularly and know very well how to do? Now pretend that you need to give step by step instructions to someone completely unfamiliar with that task. Start from the beginning and go into as much details as you possibly can.
Describe your surroundings. Take a good look around you and mentally describe everything that you can see. Go into as much detail as you can and take your time to find everything that is in your eyesight.
Test your memory. Think of a topic and describe each thing that you can that fits into that topic. A good example is sporting teams, so your topic could be basketball or football teams so you then name as many as you possibly can. You could also use other topics like universities, animals or colors.
An Alternative To Grounding Techniques
Don’t get me wrong, I think grounding techniques are great and they can be quite effective. The aim of them is to both distract us from our anxiety and bring us to the present. The problem with them is while they work in the short term, they don’t really do anything to stop the anxiety or panic from returning. They don’t address the root cause of the anxiety, they just help you to deal with the symptoms.
After countless hours spent searching, I came across a method that both deals with anxiety and panic attacks as they are happening, while also addressing our fear of the anxiety returning. The best thing is that you don’t need anxiety medication like Valium to treat your symptoms, it is all done mentally.
I have spent a lot of money and time on psychologists during my years of fighting depression and anxiety, and a lot of the methods they taught me were quite good. None of them however, were as quick and effective as the method I am talking about now.
The method I am referring to is a product called Panic Away. It is a guide on how to stop panic attacks and anxiety and how to get to the main cause of them (fear) so they don’t bother you any more. The first time I read this strategy I felt so confident that I deliberately went out and put myself in an anxiety provoking situation, because I knew I could handle it now. My teenage daughter suffers from panic attacks and she has also used this strategy successfully. You can find out more about Panic Away using the link below.
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