Grounding techniques are enormously helpful when dealing with anxiety. Grounding techniques are used to help your body and your mind slow down when your anxiety has gotten the best of you. They are used to distract your mind from whatever is overwhelming it. Grounding strategies can typically be done within a few minutes. Some of them may take a little getting used to, so I definitely suggest testing these out and practicing them when you are not in a hyper-aroused state. Practicing them when you are calm increases the chance they will work when you are anxious.
3 Techniques for Grounding Yourself Are
Use your 5 Senses
This skill has you use all five senses for you to remain in the present moment when you are struggling to stay focused or are triggered by something. You want to move through the senses in a descending order and naming items that fit each sense.
Name 5 things you see
4 things you smell
3 things you can hear
2 things you can feel/touch
1 thing you can taste
Here's a Tip: Clients struggling with body image or have experienced a trauma event may struggle to be in their body. Try focusing more on texture rather than your body; how the chair feels on your back, your feet on the floor, the weight of your shirt on your arms.
Holding something cold
Feeling something cold triggers your brain to focus on the cold sensation rather than the overwhelming feeling you are experiencing. Be mindful of how long you are holding the item because we don’t want to cause pain but have enough of a different sensation so that your brain can slow down. (Examples: a bag of ice, a frozen orange, a frozen wash cloth)
Spelling names backwards.
Name all of your family members and their dates of birth in birth order.
Describe the steps in performing an activity you do daily
Try one or all of these grounding techniques and notice how you feel. The more you exercise your body and mind to stay grounded the easier it will be to mindfully practice daily.
Written by Stephanie Polizzi, M.A., LMHC (Licensed Mental Health Counselor) - Baruch College
Stephanie holds a license in New York to practice Mental Health Counseling (LMHC) with a MA degree from Baruch College in Mental Health Counseling.
Trained in Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT), Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Mindfulness & Dialectical Behavior Therapy, and EMDR Therapy