1 Quick Technique for Managing Anxiety: Grounding
Have you ever had a panic attack?
Do you sometimes feel so anxious that you freeze and can’t think straight?
Is fear of anxiety holding you back?
If so, I invite you now to think of a moment when you were caught of guard and felt anxious. Bring to mind the first moment that you realized you were anxious. What did you do next? This is the moment I often teach clients to intervene in their anxiety. Learning to recognize early on that your anxiety is creeping up and building in a “pause” moment so you cope with your anxiety before it becomes overwhelming.
Today, I’d like to quickly share with you one of my favorite coping skills for that exact moment when you first find your anxiety rising. You can try this after you’re already starting to have a panic attack as well, but of course our goal is to intervene before it even gets to that point if possible. I like this technique because it is easy to remember, quick to use and you can do this anywhere.
First take a deep breathe in to focus your attention. Now, name the following in your mind or even out loud if it’s appropriate to do so:
- 5 things you can see around you right now in this moment. If you’re outside are there birds flying by? A tree waving in the wind? A rock you’ve never noticed before? Inside you may notice a chip in paint on the wall, a piece of artwork you look past every day or even draw your attention to the shape of your own hand.
- 4 things you can feel. Can you feel the wind on your face? What about the feel of a chair on your back? Are your clothes light or snug? Can you feel the Earth beneath your feet?
- 3 things you can hear. This one requires you to become still and quiet. Sometimes it means listening beyond the obvious. Maybe a bird or another person talking is easy to notice, but can you listen more deeply? Perhaps there’s a car in the distance or the sound of a fan cutting through the air.
- 2 things you can smell. Don’t worry about judging a smell as “good” or “bad.” Just notice.
- 1 thing you can taste. If you don’t taste anything in this moment, perhaps grab a piece of gum or small mint to place in your mouth and draw your attention to.
This technique often takes less than a minute but can serve as a “reset” to bring you out of the anxious thoughts swirling through your mind about the past or future and instead help you focus on the right now.
Was this helpful?
I have seen numerous clients find immediate relief the moment they begin using this simple 5 step grounding technique, but I’m interested in hearing how it helped you personally. Feel free to drop a comment below or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know what your experience using grounding was like.
If you’d like to learn more calming techniques, I encourage you to check out our Mindfulness page or contact us today to talk about how meeting one on one with a trained therapist may help you better cope with your anxiety.
Jessica Tappana, LCSW is the founder, director and a therapist at Aspire Counseling in Columbia, MO. She began Aspire Counseling in May 2017 to provide quality, evidence based mental health services to individuals in the Mid Missouri area looking for healing from trauma, grief, anxiety and overwhelming stress. The practice now has 4 therapists and serves all ages from early childhood through retirement. Jessica is proud of the care that is taken at Aspire to match each client with a therapist who is uniquely suited to meet that client’s needs based on personality, training, specialty and experience. If you’re interested in beginning your healing journey, you will find a safe and inviting space in our office.