Grounding techniques for anxiety are the process of focusing on something to bring your mind back to reality. In the midst of an anxiety attack it often feels like you’re dizzy or aloof, separated from your body, or at the very least, totally consumed by panic.
These easy and simple tools to naturally treat anxiety are available to everyone. You don’t need a prescription or a pill, money, willpower – nothing. You just need to focus on what you’re doing.
Here are the 15 Best Grounding Techniques for Anxiety
1. Read something – anything.
Focus on a newspaper article and how many times the word ‘the’ appears in the text or narrow your attention in on the billboard or artwork across the room and try to read it. Even if it’s miles away, focusing on reading those words will distract your mind.
2. Take slow, deep breaths.
The amazing thing about deep breaths is that no one knows you’re doing them. You can continue having the conversation you’re involved in or continue sitting in your seat; just breath. It’s been proven to work as one of the best grounding techniques for anxiety.
3. Count the lines on your palm.
Looking at the palm of your hand can be an easy distraction and one that isn’t incredibly obvious. As you feel anxiety rise, focus on the lines; try to count them; make up meanings for what they mean – anything. Just use those lines to bring your mind out of the panic attack.
4. Move around.
Often times, when I’m feeling anxious I feel like my body is screaming to get out of itself. My temperature increases from my head to my toe, with all sorts of undesirable tingling sensations. Like most of us, my body freezes, or rather, I freeze by the awful feelings I know all too well. This only makes you focus more on the anxiety. So, get up and shake out your legs, wiggle your toes and fingers, switch positions, and take the focus off of your body.
5. Take a sip of water.
Hydrate! Take small sips of water and let the natural healing benefits take over. It will start to calm you down.
6. Join the conversations around you.
Although talking may come to you like second nature (or not at all), start doing it when you’re in the middle of an anxiety attack. Join in on the conversations around you and you’ll be surprised at how quickly you snap out of the attack.
7. Write, write, write.
As a freelance writer, I may be a little biased but I find this grounding technique for anxiety to be one of the best. However, many therapists also agree! So, grab a pen and start doodling; write down how you’re feeling or make up some weird story on a piece of paper. Get as descriptive as you can to take your mind off of the anxiety.
8. Think about your happy place.
As silly as it may sound, when I’m having a panic attack I start to think about all the things that bring me happiness. I think about the Backstreet Boys (#grewupintheboybandera) or my adorable niece and nephew, and my trips to sandy shores across the globe. Visualize these things and your anxiety will subside.
9. Count something… Anything.
Distract yourself. Count the trees outside, count the number of freckles on your arm or how many people in the room are wearing glasses. Just count. The more difficult it is, the better the distraction.
Stretching is such a simple task but one that can relieve the tension building up inside of you. This is also one of those grounding techniques for anxiety that no one will think twice about when they see you doing it. Everyone stretches! So, reach up high, breathe, and let the panic go.
11. Sing along to the radio or hum the tune of your favourite song.
I once heard someone say that people only sing when they’re happy and relaxed, and it got me thinking. Very rarely do people belt out a song when they’re sad. So, focus on the song playing on the radio and sing along or recite the lyrics in your head. If there’s no music playing, think of one of your favourite songs and hum the tune.
12. Laugh at something.
Even if you have to force it, give out a giggle. Laugh at someone picking their nose in their car (you’d be surprised how many people do it!), giggle at the ridiculous advertisement on the magazine, imagine the people in front of you in god awful costumes, and just laugh. It releases feel-good-endorphins that’ll bring you out of an attack.
13. Focus on the fabrics you’re wearing.
As you come into a panic attack, think about the clothes you’re wearing. Try to think of the name of each fabric, how it’s made, what it feels like, what it can be used for other than clothes, etc. The deeper you think about the details, the better the anxiety relief will be.
14. Notice five things around you.
Distract yourself by noticing five things around you. Again, the more specific you are the better. Notice 5 words that start with F, or 5 people wearing blue; notice 5 people tapping their feet or 5 things you can smell or hear. Let your mind narrow in on them and your panic attack will subside.
15. Focus on the words being spoken.
If you find yourself having an anxiety attack in the middle of a conversation, focus in on the words being said to you. Watch how the other person’s mouth moves, how their nostrils flare when they make a certain sound or how their ears move when they talk.
Whatever grounding techniques for anxiety you decide to use, the key is to focus. You have to trick your brain into thinking about something else. When you feel the anxiety attack creeping back in, focus even harder on the grounding technique you’re doing.