More and more people are becoming open to matters concerning mental health. In the past, it’s not unusual for someone to disregard depression as just sadness. Now, especially in these hard times, many finally understand what mental health really is. Anxiety is one of the most common mental health conditions. A lot of people experience it, including those who have a different condition (depression, OCD, eating disorders, etc.). You’re probably reading this article because you can relate. It can be really difficult, but don’t worry. You’re not alone, and there are ways to manage your anxiety. We’ve listed some useful, proven ones here that you can try to apply when you’re feeling anxious. Read on to learn more about anxiety disorder and which effective grounding techniques can work for you.
Anxiety As A Mental Health Condition
Anyone can experience anxiety. There are many things in this life that can make a person anxious. However, experiencing anxiety is different from having an anxiety disorder. You can feel anxious in an uncomfortable environment, but if you get extreme anxiety every time, you most likely have an anxiety disorder. APA (American Psychological Association) defines it as “any of a group of disorders that have as their central organizing theme the emotional state of fear, worry, or excessive apprehension. This category includes, for example, panic disorder, various phobias (e.g., specific phobia, social phobia), and generalized anxiety disorder.”
Still, whether you’re experiencing anxiety as a mental health condition or in response to a situation, you can make use of these grounding techniques:
Physical Grounding Techniques
Focus On Your Breath
This is a common grounding technique. Breathing exercises help you control your heart rate and muscle tension. Breathe in for four seconds, hold your breath for another four, and let it out for the last four.
Rub Your Palms Together
Channel energy to your hands. Rub them together as fast as you can. While they generate heat through friction, focus on expelling anxious energy through that heat.
Stomp Or Jump On The Floor
Doesn’t it feel good to freely move your feet across the floor? Try stomping or jumping while focusing on how it feels when your foot lands on the floor. Think of both the ground beneath you and the sensation it causes when it makes contact with your foot.
Use A Grounding Chair
Bring a cozy chair in the most quiet part of your home. Sit on it and think about how it feels as you sit. How does the chair’s material feel on your skin? How does your body fit into it? Lean back in the chair and imagine all your negative emotions spilling out of your feet and onto the floor. Relax every muscle on the way down.
Do Some Stretching
For most people, anxious tension resides in the back, shoulders, and neck. Try stretching them out, and any other part you feel your anxious energy in. As you stretch, focus on these areas and how your body feels. Implement breathing exercises throughout.
Exercise Your Body
The feeling of your heart pounding in your chest and sweat forming on your body can be liberating. Do a vigorous form of exercise you enjoy. Boxing, dancing, a light jog outside–anything that makes you move.
Have A Warm Drink
Nothing comforts like a cup of hot coffee, tea, or chocolate. Warm beverages calm your body and mind. Focus on the sensations you feel as you prepare your drink (holding the mug and stirring) and as you take it in (the smell, heat, texture and taste).
Take A Bath
Give yourself a nice bath or shower. It can be cold, hot, or warm, depending on your preference. How does the water feel on your skin? your muscles? What does the sound of water do to your mind?
Indulge Your Sense of Smell
This is quite a fun technique. Get a candle, cologne, essential oil, or beverage that smells good and familiar. Smells, especially familiar ones help you be truly present in the moment.
Cognitive Grounding Techniques
When you meditate, you aim to obtain inner peace by focusing your mind and tuning out external distractions. You sit and close your eyes in a quiet space, focusing on your breaths or a specific object.
The 5-4-3-2-1 Technique
This technique calls upon all your senses to bring you back to the present. It involves thinking about:
- Five things you can see;
- Four things you can feel;
- Three things you can hear;
- Two things you can smell; and
- One thing you can taste in your immediate environment.
Identifying things in your physical world slows your heart rate and takes your focus off intense feelings of anxiety.
Speaking Out Loud
Recite a poem, quote, pledge, speech, or scientific theory you have memorized. Whatever you have in your head, speak it out with you mouth. You can speak in your mind too if the situation prevents you from talking out loud (e.g. being alone in a public place).
Doing math in your head is a great way to center your thoughts. Go through the times table or different equations mentally. Choose ones that yield the same answer.
Playing Mental Games
Play a game or do any mental activity that stimulates your mind. A memory game, list your favorite things, fill in categories (e.g. five types of plants), spell a word backwards, etc.
Making A To-Do List
You can skip this if a to-do list gives you anxiety. If not, go ahead–planning things you want or need to accomplish can refocus your thoughts on something productive.
Take a moment to be quiet and listen to your surrounding. For instance, you can listen to the sound of the clock ticking if you’re inside. If outdoors, you can listen to the birds or the leaves rustling on trees.
Carry An Interesting Trinket
Keep with you a small object you find interesting. It can be a coin, a flower, a rock, etc. Focus on it whenever you feel a panic attack coming on. What does it look like up close? What are its flaws?
Visualize an “emotional dial” and consciously turn it down to get in charge of intense feelings. You can also think about a loved one who’s always there for you. Picture their face, voice, and what they would say to comfort you.
Play your favorite song. Let yourself bask in its sound, melody, and lyrics. Focus on how it lifts your mood and what the words mean to you.
A movie, series, or any video can transport you to a different place and time. You can get lost in a storyline or wear a character’s shoes for a while. Before you know it, you might forget that you were feeling anxious.
Laughter is indeed a good medicine. Put on a funny video or show you like. Laugh all your anxiety and negative emotions away.
Practicing grounding techniques does a lot for anxiety management. All the strategies mentioned here can be very effective if you use them consistently.
If you have a hard time finding the right grounding technique for your anxiety, don’t hesitate to seek professional advice. It’s the best way to know which is surely best for you. Moreover, a mental health professional can help you manage your condition well. With proper management, you can become capable of handling anxiety in your daily life. You can also receive the right treatment if you need or want to, and have a chance at overcoming your condition. All in all, remember to accept your anxiety and how it makes you feel. When you have an open heart, you learn to let go of what isn’t under your control. Once you learn to let go, you’re finally able to make your way toward healing and recovery.
You can get more information about anxiety on APA’s website and other reliable sources.