Grounding for Upsets and Anxiety
What can you do IN THE MOMENT when you’re experiencing anxiety, a racing mind, or a difficult emotion?
Grounding techniques can be quite helpful right when you are right in the thick of it and need something to do immediately to help bring more peace.
Here we explore 2 categories of anxiety-reducing techniques:
- using your physical senses for grounding
- using your mind for grounding
Engaging Your Senses for Grounding
Changing the physical sensations you are experiencing helps change the emotions you are experiencing.
1. Hold a piece of ice
Using your sense of touch, ice creates immediate and intense sensations. Put all your attention on what you are feeling and noticing. How does it feel at first? How does the feeling change?
2. Touch something soothing
You could use your sense of touch on something soft like a favorite blanket, sweater or scarf. Or you could touch something smooth like a stone or crystal. Notice how it really feels on your hand and bring all your focus to the sensations you notice.
3. Sit with a pet
Your senses can be calmed by soft fur, feeling a gentle breathing tummy, or perhaps hearing a content purr.
Watch funny videos or a read something that always makes you laugh. Laughing shifts your energy and it creates a physiological experience in your body that creates calm.
5. Take a cold shower
This one is challenging but it works! It completely engages your senses in the experience of the cold and the water. It also engages your vagus nerve to calm down any fight-or-flight reactions. Next best idea would be to splash cold water on your face for 2 minutes.
Engaging Your Mind for Grounding
These grounding techniques are particularly useful when anxiety includes racing thoughts, obsessions or rumination.
1. Distance yourself from an upsetting situation or feelings
Picture yourself experiencing the upsetting situation and the upsetting feelings. Now imagine that image is on a TV screen and picture yourself walking away from the TV. As you walk further and further, the screen gets smaller and smaller.
2. Describe a common task that you don’t mind doing
Bring to mind a specific activity you do often or can do very well, such as making coffee, making the bed, or mowing the lawn. In your mind, detail the process step-by-step, as if you’re giving someone else instructions on how to do it.
3. Think in categories
Choose one or two broad categories, such as “flowers,” “ice cream flavors,” or “football teams.” List as many things as possible from each category and count them off on your fingers as you do so.
4. Activate your right brain using numbers and math
- count backward from 1000
- count backward from 100 by 3’s
- run through multiplication tables in your head