Guest blogger Rebekah Charles studied Psychology with a concentration in Child and Adolescent Development and is a Certified Master Life Coach based in New York City. She writes on the topics of mental health, child & adolescent development and mental health, relationships, and lifestyles.
Grounding is known to be an effective way to calm your anxiety. It is a practice that can help you pull away from flashbacks, unwanted memories, and negative emotions. You are bringing your focus to what is happening to you physically and what is happening around you.
Using ground techniques is not just for people with anxiety disorders or other mental health conditions like post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), panic disorder, or depression. It is an excellent tool for anyone who is feeling stressed, anxious, or overwhelmed. This is because you are getting out of your head and focusing all your energy into the present moment. You are intentionally trying to center yourself by bringing awareness back to your body.
One in three adults have reported symptoms of anxiety or depression during the coronavirus co·ro·na·vi·rus : any of a family (Coronaviridae) of single-stranded RNA viruses that have a lipid envelope studded with club-shaped projections, infect birds and many mammals including humans, and include the causative agents of MERS, SARS, and COVID-19 pandemic (pan·dem·ic) : an outbreak of a disease that occurs over a wide geographic area and affects an exceptionally high proportion of the population : a pandemic outbreak of a disease.. Read our article for more information: “Pandemic Contributes to Major Spike in Depression and Anxiety.”
Doing grounding techniques interrupts the flow of your negative thoughts and allows you to find peace. It helps you focus so intently, that your mind does not have the opportunity to wonder or worry about anything further. Try one of these six techniques to relieve anxiety.
Six Effective Grounding Techniques to Calm Anxiety
This technique is all about focusing on your five senses and paying close attention to detail. Focusing on all your senses can help force you back into the present.
It starts with sitting comfortably in a chair. Close your eyes and take 3-4 deep breaths. In through your nose and out through your mouth. Open your eyes and name out loud:
5 – things you can see
4 – things you can feel
3 – things you can hear
2 – things you can smell
1 – thing you can taste
Take a deep breath to end. Repeat 2-3 times.
This technique helps to quiet the distractions around you that may be causing you to feel overwhelm and stress. It helps to refocus you by bringing your to your breathing:
- Sit comfortably with your feet flat and back straight.
- Inhale slowly through your nose while you count to four. Don’t rush. Focus on the air coming into your body.
- Before you exhale, hold your breath for a count of seven.
- Exhale through your mouth as you breathe out, for a count of eight. Focus on the air leaving your body.
- Repeat four more times.
Progressive Muscle Relaxation
This technique can help to not only reduce anxiety in the mind, but it can help to release muscles tension that comes with anxiety. When you are intense situations or you are stress/overwhelmed, your muscles often tense up without you realizing it. Progressive Muscle Relaxation will help your body and your mind to relax:
- Pick a muscle group to start with (Start from either the top or bottom of your body and work your way up and down).
- Close your eyes.
- Tense that muscle group for 5-10 seconds and then release.
- Work your way up and down your body until you have finished.
- Slowly open your eyes.
- Repeat as many times as you want. Once usually does the trick for me.
Positive Self-Talk/ Affirmations (My GO-TO for when I am feeling stuck)
Affirmations are positive statements that challenge you to overcome negative thoughts.
Say affirmations such as:
- “I am safe during this moment.”
- “This feeling will not last forever.”
- “ I am breathing in relaxation and letting go of tension.”
- “I have the ability to overcome this.”
- “I am now in control.”
- “My anxiety is making me feel uncomfortable, but I am in charge of my body and mind.”
Repeat your affirmations, believes in them, and embrace the positive feeling that is coming.
Get the body moving
Sometimes if your anxiety is at an all times high, it may hard to concentrate on doing a grounding technique that requires all your focus. Your body is just too pumped and full of energy.
If this is the case, try dancing, running, jogging, skipping, jumping, or cleaning (cleaning helps to center me when I am feeling overwhelmed) to distract you enough to get you out of your head and center you on something in the present moment. This is a good jump start to helping you relax your mind and body. When you do this, the following happens:
- Your mood improves
- You increase your self-confidence
- You muscles will relax
- The negative thoughts starts to fade
With this technique you are distracting your mind to stop thinking about what is causing you to worry, and focusing it on something that isn’t emotionally driven. These mental distractions is to help redirect your thoughts away from distressing feelings and bring it back to the present:
- Play a memory game
- Count backwards
- Pamper yourself
- Work on some math
- Look at something funny
- Try arts & craft
- Do some journaling
Why Grounding Works
We experience so many uncertainties in life that sometimes it is hard not to worry in anticipation of something that may or may not happen. When my father first suffered a stroke, the first few months, I was overwhelmed with negative thoughts that had me persistently worrying. I was on the verge of experiencing a nervous breakdown as well. My eating habits were all over the place, I didn’t want to get out of bed, I was behind in my work, and just felt lost and broken.
But just taking a moment to pause and listen to my body (ground myself) was what I needed to start making a turn-around. Some days can still be emotionally overwhelming for me, but I try to truly make a conscious effort to put my best foot forward and embrace all the positivity that life has to offer.
Grounding helps you release negativity while you clear your mind, recharge your energy and calm your emotions. You build your strength as you become one with your mind and body.
American Psychological Association. (2020). Anxiety https://dictionary.apa.org/anxiety
Mayo Clinic. (2018). Anxiety Disorders.