Simple Grounding Techniques
Anxiety is a normal reaction to difficult situations or events, it alerts us to danger or threat, and prepares our body to fight back or get out of the situation (usually called the fight or flight response). Grounding techniques can be used in the moment to self-soothe and reduce anxiety levels. If you are feeling anxious a lot of the time, or have intense feelings of anxiety, you may need to speak with your mental health professional for support.
Feeling anxious or panicked can leave you feeling disconnected from your surroundings, and give you a sense of loss of control. Grounding exercises are really useful to help you feel connected with the world around you, and reduce your stress levels back to a manageable level.
One of the ones we always recommend is the 5-4-3-2-1 method, as it is proven to work for most people.
Look around and:
Find five things you can see
Four things you can touch
Three things you can hear
Two things you can smell
One thing you can taste
In the midst of a full-blown panic attack, it can be hard to remember the order – that’s ok, just pick whatever works for you, and focus on that. And there are many other grounding techniques that might work better for you.
Other Ground Techniques
in the article ‘7 Simple Grounding Techniques For Calming Down Quickly‘, one of the techniques mentioned is to draw around your foot in your mind, using an imaginary pen or pencil.
Over on the Living Well website, there are a number of really good grounding techniques – one of our favourites is to remind yourself of some facts – who are you, where are you, what time is it, what age are you, what room are you in?
Practicing self-kindness can help too, in the form of a mantra or memorised phrase such as ‘you are having a difficult time, but you will make it through’ or ‘you are doing your best, you are strong, you can move through this’. You can find this technique and 29 other grounding techniques in this article on Healthline ‘30 Grounding Techniques to Quiet Distressing Thoughts“.
On the Choose Mental Health website, there is a list of 25 grounding techniques which includes physical activities such as clenching fists, stomping feet and rubbing your hands together.
While this isn’t exactly a grounding technique, we are big fans of having what we call ‘comfort boxes’ – a box of things to help us calm, heal and soothe. Some of our ideas for things to go in the boxes include crosswords or puzzles, adult colouring books and pens, scented candles, photographs of loved ones or places, music playlists, hot water bottles or favourite cushions – it’s about having a collection of things that will make you feel better and less anxious.
Be Kind to Yourself
Whatever method you choose, take as much time as you need to calm, soothe and heal, and be kind to yourself.