How to Control Anxiety with Grounding Techniques
Grounding techniques can help you stay calmly focused in the present moment. They are easy to do and valuable for learning how to control anxiety.
Grounding techniques steady the mind by drawing it to notice normal physical sensations. This simple noticing of the body triggers the mind to step down from high adrenaline states and begin to relax.
How do Grounding Techniques Work?
Grounding techniques are deceptively simple, but they have a definite influence over the mind. Here's how they work. Your mind perceives certain physical events as being related to stress. Typical examples are a dry mouth, shallow breathing, and physical disassociation. Disassociation means "being out of touch" with ourselves and our surroundings. This can happen when we're driving and we forget parts of a journey, or when we're concentrating on complex tasks for long periods of time. Neither of these events are necessarily stressful, but due to the lack of connection with our physical self we may become "spaced out" and feel disconnected. These feelings also happen in high anxiety states, so your body perceives a connection between lack of physical awareness and stress or anxiety.
To address this negative perception all you need to do is to take a minute or two to reconnect with yourself and send an all clear message to your mind. This quick and easy exercise shows you how to do that by actively paying attention to your body, it's a great way to reduce anxiety as it brings a nice sense of calm and re-connectedness.
A Simple Grounding Technique
- Stand and bend your knees slightly.
- Think for a moment about how conscious you are of your body right now. Pay attention to your level of physical comfort and feel for areas of tension.
- Now feel your feet on the floor, and notice the texture of the surface you are standing on. Do your feet perceive it as rough or smooth? And how are your feet connecting with it? Are you distributing your weight evenly through your feet, or are you leaning more into your toes, or your heels? Are your feet relaxed or tense? Do they feel comfortable? Just notice and flex your toes for a moment or two.
- Now direct your attention to your skin. Can you feel the sensation of the air on your face or hands? Pause and feel its temperature for a few seconds.
- Take a deep breath and as you release that breath, drop your shoulders and let your jaw relax. Allow there to be a slight gap between your top and bottom teeth and bring your tongue to rest behind your front teeth at the top of your mouth as if you were going to make an "l" sound.
Deeper and Deeper
Now bring your attention deeper into your body, focus on your muscles and tissues and look for any areas of tension. Send your attention to a place that feels tense with a thought of warming and relaxing the area. As you breathe visualize that tension softening, relaxing and flowing away.
Take a few more moments to breathe deeply, rest, relax and acknowledge your body as the vehicle that supports you and carries you about day to day. Noticing areas of tension in your body allows you to take the opportunity to stretch them out and breathe into them, massage them and do something to acknowledge and alleviate tension before your body calls you with more urgency and stronger signals of discomfort that it needs your attention and care.
This simple act of self respect gives protection from anxiety spikes and keeps you in touch with your intelligence and resources so that you can flow through your daily activities with increased comfort, calm and clarity.