woman using Grounding Techniques

Reduce Anxiety by Grounding Yourself

Grounding is a simple, quick, and accessible way to reduce symptoms of anxiety. In this post, you’ll learn how to use this anxiety-reduction strategy.

What is anxiety?

Anxiety is one of the most common mental health problems in the United States. Even if you don’t meet the clinical criteria for an anxiety disorder, I’m sure you’ve experienced some of the hallmark symptoms from time to time:

  • uncontrollable worry
  • trouble concentrating
  • insomnia
  • rumination or obsessive thoughts
  • muscle tension
  • stomach aches, headaches, back aches, gastrointestinal problems
  • blushing, sweating, trembling
  • feeling on edge

Anxiety can also include panic attacks, specific fears, flashbacks, compulsions, or social anxiety.

How is anxiety treated?

There are a number of effective treatments for anxiety such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), exposure therapy, medication, stress management, meditation and mindfulness, and physical exercise. Please consult a licensed professional to find out what treatment is appropriate for you.

How can I reduce anxiety at home?

Grounding is a simple and free strategy to reduce anxiety that you can use anywhere! Sounds good, right?

Grounding distracts you from your worry and anxiety. It uses mindfulness principles to refocus your attention on concrete, observable things in the present.

As the name says, it “grounds” you in reality so that your mind isn’t stuck in the past or future.

This grounding technique is flexible. You can change the questions to suit you and your environment. The key is to use your senses to observe the details of your present environment.

It is important that you do the scaling (rate your anxiety on a scale of 1-10) so that you can measure whether the grounding technique is working. If your anxiety remains high, continue grounding yourself.

Here is an example of mental grounding to reduce anxiety or negative thoughts:

1. Rate your anxiety on a scale of 1-10.
2. Sit up straight and tall. Place your feet on the floor. Relax your shoulders.
3. Breathe slowly and deeply.
4. How many windows are in the room?
5. How many electrical outlets do you see?
6. What does the chair or couch you’re on feel like? Is it soft? Rough? Smooth?
7. What color are your pants? Your shoes?
8. What do you hear?
9. What material is the floor made of? Is it smooth or bumpy? Soft or hard? Dirty or clean? What imperfections can you see?
10. Name your favorite TV shows.
11. Name all of the types of shapes you can think of.
11. Rate your anxiety on a scale of 1-10. If it is still over a 5, repeat the grounding exercises.

Grounding exercise

This is an excellent video (about 10 minutes) that takes you through the mental grounding described above as well as physical grounding (very gentle physical movements) and soothing grounding (thinking of things that provide comfort and enjoyment). They are all effective grounding techniques. You can use all or some of them depending on your preferences.

I hope these grounding exercises are helpful to reduce your anxiety.

©2016 Sharon Martin, LCSW. Originally published on SharonMartinCounseling.com.

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Sharon Martin, DSW, LCSW is a psychotherapist and author specializing in codependency recovery. For the past 25 years, she’s been helping people-pleasers, perfectionists, and adult children overcome self-doubt and shame, embrace their imperfections, and set boundaries. Dr. Martin writes the popular blog Conquering Codependency for Psychology Today and is the author of The CBT Workbook for Perfectionism and The Better Boundaries Workbook.

4 thoughts on “Reduce Anxiety by Grounding Yourself”

  1. Pingback: Some Activities you can incorporate into your everyday life to bring Anxiety to a minimum!-ILP Week 11 – The World Of Teaching

  2. Shelly Fitzgerald

    Another great article from Sharon! I’ve been saving them as PDFs in my One Note app so I can access them on my phone and my computer. I look forward to your weekly articles. Thank you so much.

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