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Grounding Exercises for Anxiety

If you have an anxiety problem, then you are well aware of how quickly those feelings of anxiety can become overwhelming. One of the techniques that are helpful for coping with anxiety spikes is the grounding technique. Grounding techniques are also helpful for coping with flashbacks as with PTSD, panic attacks, and negative thoughts.

The general purpose of a grounding exercise is to help you decrease the intensity of your feelings by moving your thoughts away from the thoughts, feelings, or memories that are causing you distress, to what’s going on currently in your environment. This will help you to regulate your emotions and to regain your calmness. Check out the list below for some grounding exercises to try.

1. Count backward from 100 by 7. I know doing math isn’t exciting to most people, but completing the computations really works your brain in a different way and can distract you from the anxiety.

2. 5-4-3-2-1: for this one, you look for various things in your environment and focus on them using your various senses. So you would find 5 things you can see, 4 things you can feel, 3 things you can hear, 2 things you can smell, and 1 thing you can taste.

3. 4-4-4: this one is similar to the technique above, but a bit shorter. You look for 4 things in the environment you can see, 4 things you can touch, and 4 things you can hear.

4. Pick up various items in your environment one at a time and hold it in your hand for several minutes while making note of how they feel. Are they soft? Heavy? Warm? Hard? Is the object flexible or rigid? Is it warming in your hand? You get the general idea.

5. Complete a body scan and note any body sensations. Are your muscles tight? Are you cold or warm? Hungry? Are your feet tingling?

6. Make note of the sensations in your body right now. Feel your back pressing into your chair, your hands resting on the armrests, stomp your feet into the floor and make note of the feeling in your feet and legs. Try to sit “heavy” and feel the cushion under you. Tap the armrests- are they upholstered or wood? Is there any air moving on your face? Do you hear anything? Smell anything?

7. Tightly clench your hands closed and imagine you are holding all of your feelings in your hands, then let go of the feelings as you open your hands. Note any changes in how you feel- do you feel lighter? Warmer? Are your hands tingling?

8. Hold onto an ice cube and note how it feels. Notice the coldness and the wetness. Is it dripping down your arm?

9. Breath in and smell soothing essential oils like vanilla, lavender, or cedar.

10. Play a word game by identifying various objects in a given category. For example, name all the vegetables you can, or movie titles, or colors, or different flowers.

Remember to try these techniques when you first start feeling anxious (or when the flashback first starts) to stop the feelings before they become intense. They can be used in conjuncture with a deep breathing exercise for a more relaxing effect. Also, practice your chosen technique. The more you use it, the more effective it will become.

For More Information

If your anxiety is feeling out of control or you have had increased trouble managing it, it might be time to speak with a professional. Anxiety Treatment is proven effective and I'd love to speak more about this with you today.


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