Grounding Techniques to Help with Anxiety
Grounding is a way to bring oneself back to the present moment, the here and now. Many people can experience anxiety and thoughts that are either in the future or past. Often people who experienced trauma during childhood could have flashbacks that can make them feel like they’re back when the event happened. Here we will discuss grounding techniques to help with anxiety and bring one to the present moment.
Anxiety can also be future oriented thinking, in particular ‘what if’ thoughts which can also increase anxiety. Grounding can help with this too by focusing on the present instead of the future which hasn’t happened yet.
When experiencing anxiety and flashbacks, it’s important to focus on self care. .For ideas on managing self care, have a read through one of my other posts.
You might notice that breathing comes up a lot as a strategy to manage big feelings. This is because when we are having strong feelings, our breathing gets faster and more shallow without us being aware of it. So we need to keep remembering to breathe. It also helps as a grounding strategy as you will soon see.
Focussing on your breath helps ground you. This is because it makes us think about how we breathe while also making us focus on this moment. You can’t breathe a breath from the past, you can’t breathe a breath from the future, you can only breathe in the now. Hence using the breath to anchor you into the here and now.
5, 2, Release Strategy
My favourite breathing technique which has helped many of my clients is the 5, 2, release strategy.
This is where you count to 5 as you breathe in. It doesn’t have to be a deep breath, but it’s longer than a normal breath. Then hold for 2 seconds. This helps cleanse the lymphatic system, then release for as long as you need to slowly. Notice the moment between the out breath and the in breath. Then breath in again counting to 5.
If you are struggling to do 5 seconds breath in, then start with 4 and work up to 5 or longer.
The main thing to focus on here is slowing down your breathing so that it can help you relax.
While you are doing this exercise also become aware of how your body moves as you breathe in then out. Notice the temperature of the air on your nostrils as you breathe in. Then notice the temperature as you breathe out and how it’s different.
When working on breathing imagine filling up your belly like it’s a balloon as you breathe in.
Blow out the Candles
This is perfect for younger children as they have great imaginations, Thinking about candles helps them think about something else other than the thing that they’re getting worried about.
Hold your hand up in front of the child. Next, wiggle your fingers in front of them and say to the child, ‘imagine that there’s candles on your hand’ as you wiggle them. Then tell your child to blow out the candles.
Blow up a balloon.
Using imagination again, encourage your child in front of you to imagine blowing up a balloon with their hands in front of them. This encourages them to draw a big breath in and then blow out all the air.
Notice a color around you, Name the item and keep looking for more of items of the same color for a few moments. Once you can’t find any more, look for a different colour until you notice feeling calmer.
Use of Water
- Wash your hands in cold water. Be aware of how the water feels on your hands as it washes over them. Take note of the temperature of the water. Notice how it feels to have the water on your hands. Notice what it looks like.
- Have a shower and notice the movement of the flowing water. Notice the temperature of the water. Breathe. Notice the suds as you clean yourself. Notice the smells from the soap.
5 Senses Grounding
Notice 5 things you can see around you. Say them out loud slowly.
Then notice 4 things you can feel with your sense of touch. Say it aloud or to yourself each thing you can feel.
Next listen for 3 things you can hear.
Then notice 2 things you can either smell or taste.
Finally think of one thing you can feel grateful for.
Notice now how you feel after doing this exercise. What’s that like for you.
For a guided 5 senses grounding do a search on Youtube.
Sitting or standing
If you are sitting down, become aware of what you are sitting on. Notice how it feels under you. Notice the temperature of what you’re sitting on. What’s the texture of the seat. Is it hard or soft, smooth, fluffy, hard.
For when you are standing, notice where you are. What does it feel like under your feet. Notice the texture of the surface you are standing on. Is it smooth, dirty, soft, hard.
Be with your Pet
Pets are great companions but did you also know they can help you feel grounded when you are with them? Try this to practice grounding with your pet.
Be with your pet. Notice their features, colors texture. Listen to their sounds. Do they pur, or pant? How do they feel to touch, are they warm, cool, soft, fluffy, rough etc. Do they have a smell of some kind? What’s your favorite thing about them.
For more information about how pets can help us with our mental health, read this.
Make a Cuppa
Make yourself a drink of either a cup of coffee, tea or hot chocolate.
Notice the sounds of the kettle as it boils. As you’re pouring the hot water into the mug or pot, notice the steam rising. Watch the water pour into the mug/cup/pot. Notice the smells of the drink you’re making. When you’re holding your cup or mug, wrap your hands around the mug and notice how it feels, smells. Be aware of the taste when you drink. Notice the movement of the liquid in your mug.
If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed by anxiety and intense feelings, write a list of the techniques from above that resonate with you. Add it to your notes app on your phone or carry a list with you to remind you.of these grounding techniques to help with anxiety. Some will work sometimes, and at other times, different ones will work. The main thing is to engage in the strategies to allow them to work for you. Be kind to yourself.
28 Replies to “7 Grounding Techniques to Help With Anxiety”
This is amazing! I found lately that more and more of my friends are struggling anxiety and as I have never experienced it myself I am a bit lost with ideas how to help them. This is giving me a great perspective of how it could feel when they’re going through it and also how to communicate with them and what to concentrate on. Thank you so much for sharing!
Hi Martina. Thanks for stopping by. You’re very lucky that you don’t experience anxiety as it can be quite debilitating for some. It’s fabulous that you want to help support your friends so now you’ve got some tools you can apply to help them when they’re struggling. I’m sure they’ll appreciate your help ~kat
Great article and really interesting techniques. I am going to use some of these as I know that I get ungrounded from time to time
Hi Diane, thanks for sharing. I hope you can remember to use these when you feel ungrounded. I would love to hear your experience when you put these into action. All the best ~kat
Fantastic ideas, I particularly like the ones to help kids, really creative
Hey, thanks for sharing your thoughts Helen. It’s my hope that parents can support kids with helping them manage anxiety too with these strategies ~kat
I’ve read a book where the author said that another word for thinking is anxiety. A powerful sentence when you think about it. The main key is to stay focused on today, on now, on the moment in which we are living. Everything else is gone or not yet born.
Thanks for sharing an amazing list of suggestions!
Hi Ivan, thanks for sharing this expression. I would have to agree, thinking does lead to a lot of unrest and anxiety. This fits well. I love your expression of everything else is either gone or not yet born, so true hey! All the best ~kat
Awesome thanks for the article.
I am going to use some of these 7 grounding techniques to erase my anxiety and pressures.
Thanks for offering helpful information again.
Hi Charles, thanks for coming back and sharing your interest in these grounding techniques. I hope they can be use for you 🙂 ~kat
I really enjoyed reading this article and I did the breathing techniques as I was reading which definitely made me feel more relaxed.
I have a 10 year old son who is very highly strung so I will try some of these techniques on him to help him calm down and relax.
I love your website and it’s content so I have bookmarked it for future reference. Thank you
Hi Helen, it’s great to hear that the breathing techniques have helped you calm down and feel more relaxed. It is such a helpful tool to bring yourself back to the present, even if you don’t realise you’re breathing is a bit fast. ~kat
Thank you for this great advice. I knew most of them, as I suffered from severe panic attacks myself, but I love the one with the water.
I will have to tell my friend all about it. She’s, unfortunately, developed anxiety and panic attacks since the recent finalization of her divorce.
And, yes, spending time with your pet helps tremendously when feeling agitated or when panic is arising. The lovely creatures simply have such a grounding and protective effect, it’s amazing!
Again, thank you, dearest, for sharing your knowledge regarding this underrated topic.
I’m sending you lots of warm wishes, blessings and happiness.
Hi Alexandra, thanks for your warm encouragement and sharing. It’s great to hear that you’ve learnt something new here, as it sounds like you’ve had your fair share of experience with this condition. Anxiety can be so hard to live with when it happens, so knowing there are ways to deal with it can help one work through this challenging issue. Warm heart hugs to you too ~kat
This is really helpful. With everything that is going on in the world today, it is so easy to overthink things and begin to lose yourself, then it feels like you ain’t got no control no more. This happens to me sometimes and I been practicing meditation to help me stay in the moment and not feed into my thoughts. But I didn’t know about some of these tip such as blowing out candles because I love candles and have them in every room in my house. Glad to know I have another method of regaining myself whenever I have an anxiety attack. Great article, I found this very useful and definitely going to share this on my Facebook page.
Hi Garrett, thanks for joining in on the conversation around grounding techniques. It really is helpful to know what options do you have to help you prevent a panic attack and manage anxiety before it gets a hold of you. Thanks for sharing :). Many blessings ~kat
Great tips Kat,
I tried the water thing but it made me even more nervous maybe because I don’t really like water but the colour thing and cuppa actually work! I imagined my red pen, and started imagining a red Ferrari and I have no idea what happened afterwards as I was in a total fantasy land where I was Santa all red in colour driving a Ferrari with my elves lol.
Correct me if I’m wrong but the main goal is actually to distract ourselves enough so that we’ll start thinking less on the nervousness, right? It’s actually useful and I started experimenting on it whenever I’m nervous 😀
Hi there Riaz, yes, the goal is to help you by distracting you from your thoughts which are usually not in your best interests when they are causing anxiety and are not focussing on the present moment. When our thoughts are in the future or the past, this is when we get to overanalyzing and it often creates anxiousness. Bringing ourselves to the present will allow us to focus on the problem if you have less anxiety around it, and gives one more clarity from a calmer space. I hope this helps. Thanks for a fabulous description of your favourite color with your fave car and zoomnig away with Santa claus and his elves, great way to also distract yourself, and very creative!
The two activities that help me ease any anxiety I have are drinking a cup of tea. However, it has to be ritualized. I boil the water and then use some of that to warm up the tea pot. No tea bags in the cup for me. I also warm up the cups using the hot water. After the tea is seeped, I pour it into the tea cups in the light so that I can savor the golden red look of the flowing tea. The temperature has got to be just right to truly enjoy it. I do use milk and a little sugar to sweeten the tea.
The next activity that really calms me is to pet my cat. Her fur is so sift and I love it when she rubs her head against me. Pure heaven!
Hi Edwin, great to hear from you. I too love tea, so I can see how you are utilising it as a grounding strategy through your ritual. Well done for already engaging in this activity. Animals can have such a calming effect. I’ve written another post on how pets can help with calming our emotions, you can have a read here.
This is a beautiful and helpful post. I liked your “grounding” techniques and tried some of them as you went through them. I can see that doing these exercises would help a great deal to disperse anxiety and help you relax and free up your mind.
Throughout the article, I saw that the word “notice” came up all the time. Thinking about that word, I can see that a lot of what you are doing is making yourself truly aware of what is going on around you and within you. Just noticing all these things moves your mind away from the anxious thoughts and puts you in a state where you can relax more easily.
Good job! Thanks…
Hey Fran, yes, the techniques mentioned here are about increasing one’s awareness and be an observer rather than caught up in the emotional responses that might be happening at the time of overwhelm. Feelings are very normal and okay, but when they become too much to bear, especially anxiety, it is good to be aware of how they are impacting on one’s sense of being and if grounding needs to come into action to help calm the stress levels. It allows us to become more present and in the moment from a calmer space. Thanks for contributing ~kat
I admire how creative people have become and I appreciate the suggestions here. Truly, they work, especially that one with pets. I know for sure how helpful pets are as I have one here, a dog.
For some people, they were able to deal with anxiety especially that one connected with money problems by working harder. When they feel the hardship of lifting something, when they get involved too much with their work, they start to forget about those memories or problems that used to flash back in their minds. We sometimes refer to this as “immersion”. Immersing yourself too much in a work because you need to, as you need to make money.
It is easier to say these things when you’re not the one having anxiety, or if you are helping someone else. But how about if I am the one suffering from these? Can you suggest some tips on how do I control of myself and implement one of the things you said here?
Hi Gomer, dealing with anxiety is different for everyone, but I can honestly recommend the strategies listed here, as they have helped me when I’m anxious too. It takes a multi-faceted approach to work through the anxiety. By becoming more aware of where the anxiety is coming from will help you be aware of what you might need to change to help you work through it. Choose any strategy from the list above and immerse yourself in it, whichever one you have chosen. I would always start with slowing your breathing down and breathing slowly first. Practice some guided meditations to help your body let go and relax the tense muscles. Notice any thoughts that keep popping in, and instead of getting annoyed or upset or judge them, simply be aware of them being there, and bring yourself back to the breathing activity. This will help you become more relaxed and able to focus on what you need to focus on. By doing this regularly, this can help your stress hormones decrease and help you focus better. ~kat
These 7 Grounding Techniques definitely work great. As I was suffered from anxiety in the past,I know how it fells like. your instruction about trying to overcome anxiety via these techniques and any other one, would absolutely help more people.
As I’ve had some kind of these practice and I’ve got great result. by reading Your article Kat, I will need to put it in my daily schedule and get benefit from it. Thank you for your insightful post.
Hi Shirian, thanks heaps for sharing how you’ve been managing anxiety for yourself. It is so common and it’s good if we can share what works to show that it is possible to address it and work through it. It will definitely be a good daily practice to do these when you notice any intense feelings kicking in. ~kat
Great post! The 7 grounding techniques to help with anxiety are spot on! I am a huge meditation fan and all these techniques are certainly in alignment with meditation.
I love breathing as a way of becoming calm. I follow Wim Hof’s breathing method and find it so amazing. These are all great tools, thanks for sharing Kat!
Hi Kevin, I find breathing to be the starting point and most important activity of all to get started when our emotions are reeling out of control. I’ll have to look into Wim Hof’s breathing method and see how that goes, thanks for sharing ~kat