How to Calm Your Anxiety With Grounding Techniques

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By Karolyn Estevez, BA Youth development Specialist, The PATH at Carteret Middle School

Anxiety is one of the scariest and overwhelming feelings we can experience. People with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) usually experience high levels of anxiety that cause them to disassociate and feel like they're back in the traumatic incident they have once experienced. Anxiety can make life very difficult and completing even the most mundane daily tasks can be challenging.

It's important to understand what your body is feeling in these moments. Is your heart racing? Is your breathing uneven? Are you sweating? Are your thoughts scattered and unorganized? Tuning into our bodies is a key strategy in battling anxiety. It can help us understand what it is we need in that moment to feel calm, relaxed and safe. Grounding techniques are helpful because they break the chaotic cycle of overthinking and worry that comes with anxiety and allow us to focus on something different to gain better control of our thoughts. Below are a few grounding techniques you can use when you feel anxious.

5-4-3-2-1 Grounding Technique

This technique helps you use your five senses to help you come back to the present and relax. Name five things you can see, four things you can touch, three things you can hear, two things you can smell and one thing you can taste.

Touch or Eat Something

Touch or eat something flavorful. Take a moment to really feel it or taste it, and then describe it to yourself. What does it feel like? Is it soft or rough? What does it taste like? Is it hard or easy to chew? Is it sweet or savory? How does it feel? This technique helps you focus on something else in the present.

Find a Comfy Chair 

Sit in a chair, couch or bed, take a deep breath, and feel your body against the chair. How do you feel? Notice your feet on the ground and pay attention to how your feet touching the ground feels. Are you sinking into the chair, or does it support your body in an upright position? This technique helps us focus on the present and allows us to realize that we are in a safe space currently.

Overall, grounding techniques work very well when practiced frequently. It is a mindfulness practice that helps us stay focused on the present and keeps us, you guessed it, grounded and centered.

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