Anxiety is something that almost everyone struggles with at some point or another. And for some people, it can seem to completely take over their lives. If you’re familiar with chronic anxiety, you know how it can spiral into an endless cycle of worries and concerns.
That’s why one of the best ways to deal with anxiety is practicing something called grounding. Grounding is a way to break that cycle of negative emotions. So, here are some grounding techniques for anxiety that can help you reach a more positive state of mental health.
Grounding Techniques For Anxiety
The key to grounding is to pull your thoughts away from feelings of anxiety and into the present. So, most grounding techniques involve taking the time to really notice the things around you that you didn’t before. These exercises can help you stay in the present and out of your head.
The chair exercise should obviously be done while you’re sitting down and involves taking the time to focus on the feeling of the chair on the skin.
- Place your feet an equal distance apart while sitting in a chair. Firmly grip the chair with your hands.
- Close your eyes and focus on the feeling of the chair on your legs, back, and hands.
- Take deep breaths and count to 30.
- Clear your mind of all other thoughts.
- Repeat until you feel more collected and calm.
The 5-4-3-2-1 Technique is mentally intensive enough to make it a good way to distract your thoughts. Here’s how it works:
- Look around and name five things you can see in the room. Really focus on them. Take a moment to think about what they are. Describe them for yourself.
- Name four things you can feel. Feel the ground under your feet, or the wind on your skin.
- Name three things you can hear, like the air conditioner or people talking nearby.
- Name two things you can smell. Is someone near you wearing cologne? Or can you smell anyone cooking something?
- Name one good quality you have.
This exercise is great for music fans. Basically, it involves listening to a song you love and really losing your thoughts in the music. Remember to pick a song with an upbeat tempo, something you can really tap your toes to:
- Put on a song. Headphones work best, but a good stereo system is fine as well.
- Close your eyes and focus on the music.
- Imagine the sound entering your body and settling in your chest.
- Drown out all other thoughts with the sound. This will help clear your head of negative thoughts and break the cycle of anxiety.
Mindful walking is a yoga-enhancing and meditation technique, that works great for overcoming anxiety. The technique works best outside in bare feet. But if it’s too cold, you can also do it inside. Here’s how you do it:
- If walking on sand or indoors, start by taking your shoes off and placing your feet an equal distance apart.
- Focus on your breathing and imagine your breath moving through your body and into the ground.
- Really focus on the feeling of the ground underneath your feet. Can you feel grass? Dirt? Leaves?
- Take a few steps, focusing on the ground. Close your eyes and try to figure out what you’re walking on based only on the feeling on the bottom of your feet.
- Try to push out any other thoughts as you walk around. Repeat for as long as it takes to calm yourself down.
Thought replacement is a good exercise, but it usually takes a lot of practice to learn to do it well. But learning how to control your thoughts at will makes a huge difference when it comes to managing anxiety.
- Try to identify which of your negative thoughts are the most upsetting. Is it something about work, or a loved one? Are you worried about something that will happen in the future?
- Now come up with a good thought, something that makes you happy, or a positive trait you have that your proud of.
- Whenever you find yourself thinking the negative thought, make an effort to think of the positive one instead, essentially replacing the negative thoughts with the positive ones.
Regulating your breathing is a very useful tool when it comes to anxiety. Regular, deep breathing naturally helps calm the body. Here’s a breathing exercise you can use when you’re feeling anxious:
- Sit in comfortable position in a place with no distractions
- Close your eyes (although this is optional)
- Breath in, taking four seconds to do so
- Hold your breath for four seconds
- Exhale, taking four seconds to do so
- Repeat four times
Here’s a variation of that:
- Take deep slow breathes and place your finger in the center of your chest.
- Draw your finger in a square on your chest.
- Try to time your breaths so that you finish one in the time it takes you to draw the circle.
- Aim for about 10-15 seconds per breath.
- Repeat until you’ve taken 20 breaths.
Using these techniques might sound a little silly, but you’ll find that they actually do help you focus your mind on the present. And grounding yourself in the present is the best way to help calm yourself when you’re feeling anxious.