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Top 21 Anxiety Grounding Techniques

Anxiety grounding techniques can cut the worst anxious stress down to size. Think of the times that anxiety comes from the things that are all too familiar. In those times, anxiety can make even daily tasks seem insurmountable, although I’ve done them countless times before. I know the task is something I can do, it’s just that in that moment it’s implausible, even impossible that I could do it again. It’s in these everyday instances that anxiety grounding techniques become so important.

Top 21 Anxiety Grounding TechniquesWhat makes simple tasks so hard? What thoughts or behaviors prevent you from feeling confident about tasks you’re familiar with but which create anxiety regardless?

One incredibly common example for anxiety sufferers is picking up the phone to call a friend. Intellectually you’re aware you’ll probably have a great conversation. But anxiety magnifies every difficult emotion, negative thought or sign of hesitation.

Pick an Anxiety Grounding Technique to Try Next Time

If you want to stop feeling “spacey,” or you feel yourself slipping into the spiral of anxiety, try some of these helpful anxiety management techniques:

  1. Hold today’s newspaper or a book or magazine. Feel the texture of the paper. Feel your hand on the paper. Focus on what you can touch. Can you feel the ink?
  2. Breathe slowly and steadily from your core. Imagine letting fear and worry go, evaporating along with each breath (A Simple, Breathing Exercise Reduces Stress, Creates Serenity).
  3. Trace your hands against the physical outline of your body. Experience your own presence in the world.
  4. Call a hotline and have a chat (Reasons People Call a Suicide Crisis Hotline).
  5. Change how you’re positioned. Wiggle your fingers, tap your feet. Pay attention to the movement: You are in control of what your body is doing, right here and now.
  6. Eat or drink something. Describe it out loud. Is it hot or cold? Sweet or sour?
  7. Use distractions like wastebasket basketball or playing with your pet to help settle down (Five Ways to Relieve Anxiety You’ve Never Thought Of).
  8. Use your voice. Say your name or read something out loud. Listen to your voice, not necessarily the words you say.
  9. Look at yourself in the mirror. Touch your face and name the feature you’re touching out loud. Repeat until you hear your voice slowing down and become more comfortable.
  10. Write out what’s going on. Keep writing until you start to notice it makes a difference, lets some of the things you’re anxious about out (Five Reasons You Should Keep A Fear Journal).
  11. Take a shower/bath. Notice the sensations of the water.
  12. Write somebody you care about a letter with a pen on paper.
  13. Go to a safe, familiar, comfortable space. Or, if you don’t have one, grab some of your favorite things and sit somewhere you feel secure.
  14. Take a look outside. Count the number of trees and street signs.
  15. Exercise. Jump up and down on the spot. Try some gentle yoga, or ride a bike.
  16. Hold onto something comforting. Maybe a blanket or an old stuffed toy (Using Comfort Objects to Reduce Anxiety).
  17. Laugh. Even if that’s hard. Just the act of laughing about something, anything can break that spinning out of control feeling.
  18. Make a list. Use this 5-4-3-2-1 journal prompt to create a list. Any list.
  19. Ask a friend to help you focus on what is now and what is safe. When you’re not feeling anxious, make a list of the furniture in your home and what room it’s in. Give the list to a friend and call when you need his or her help.
  20. Cook something. Use spices that make you think of good times. Maybe sage, nutmeg, peppermint? (It would help to have a recipe in mind and its ingredients on hand before the anxiety hits.)
  21. Think about the last week. Was there a moment you didn’t have so much anxiety? Remember how it felt to be less anxious than you are right now. When do you remember feeling less anxious than in that moment? Keep remembering moments of lesser anxiety until you feel better.

Before your next therapy appointment, make a list of the times and situations that caused your anxiety to spike. Take it to your therapist and ask him or her to help you find ways to desensitize you to some of those things. Then those triggers won’t be quite so powerful, and your anxiety coping skills will work better.

Another good idea is to make a deliberate effort to notice the good things, so you can draw on those feelings when your anxiety threatens to make you panic.

Finally, once you’ve found which techniques help, make a list to put on your wall, or carry in your pocket. In the middle of an anxiety or panic attack you may not remember what to do, but you will remember you have a list.

What anxiety grounding techniques can you add to this list?

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23 Responses to Top 21 Anxiety Grounding Techniques

  1. Jaliya says:

    Great list, Kate. I’ve gotten to calling my own the “underwhelm list.” If I’m overwhelmed (which is often … it seems to be a rudimentary and glitchy function in my brain), I start with the absolute basics (breath, presence, safety, food, water, warmth) and go from there.

    xoxo

    P.S. I’ve linked your blog with mine :-)

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  3. Kate White says:

    Yay for the link love! Cheers, hun.

    *wonders if editors here allow reciprocal linkage*

  4. Maddy says:

    Thank you. It’s good to see these things broken down into practical steps. You’ve given me lots of ideas to adapt for my son.

  5. Kate White says:

    Hi Maddy,

    Glad they were useful for you. Let me know how they work out, if you like.

    p.s. I’m enjoying your blog. Dialogue feeds my brain (and the graphics are just fun!)

  6. rainbowdancers says:

    hi kate, i have been reading your post and considering my own anxiety. my therapist has told me that anxiety and panic attacks are mostly about the person’s thoughts. she has assured me that if i could start isolating single troublesome thoughts and use thought stopping techniques i would see a reduction of anxiety symptoms. first, i had to convince myself that i could in fact pick out a single thought from the jumble mess of racing thoughts in my head. after some practice my skepticism faded…i was surprised to report that these things do indeed help. i am curious about others with anxiety and the specific nature of their thoughts when in the midst of panic. are others plagued with very negative, fearful thoughts (almost to the point of being irrational) like me? thank you for your blog.

  7. Katie Saint says:

    This is a nice list. Thank you for posting it. It gives people hands on tools for dealing with their anxiety which so often feels so overwhelming and out of your control.

  8. Hello Kate, I just barely started having anxiety attacks a week ago, I am 18 almost 19. I am totally new with this anxiety and how to control it. I have been having the shakes, chest pain, warmth in my body, I can sleep but can’t at the same time. Been to scared to, What would you prefer for me to do. I need advice. Please and thanks.

  9. Pingback: Anxiety and Zen Gardens | Anxiety-Schmanxiety Blog - HealthyPlace

  10. Sheila Barrera says:

    Thanks for this wonderful list. I will use it often. I have a lot of anxiety about my future, as the Republicans in Congress have voted to possibly lower Social Security Disability payments by 20% or raise taxes (an unpopular mover which they probably would not do) and so I may be out some money soon, and I already live below poverty level! I will use the list above to stop myself from spiraling downward. I have bookmarked it.

  11. I worked on May 18th, and on May 19 I had a total knee replacement and retired. I have started having panic attacks, especially when I first wake up. My doctor put me on Zoloft and Clonazapam as needed. I desperately hate this feeling. I m off for for the summer, too, as I have been a teacher for 42 years. We r going to Italy in Sept. I m starting to already get panic attacks. Please advise. I just typed ur list and plan on using many of these techniques.

  12. Knija says:

    These techniques work wonderfully! Just a few moments ago I began overthinking and then I started to cry. I go online to look up anything that could help calm me down and get my thoughts back on track and this helped tremendously. Thank you, Kate. Anxiety is becoming an issue for me now-a-days and I’m sure this’ll be very useful to me.

  13. Tracy says:

    This is a great list. Pointed out to me by my Fiance who is very supportive! I have just been having an anxiety attack and he sent this to me and it helped in literally seconds!! Thank you Kate White

  14. Greg Weber says:

    Hi Tracy,

    Katie no longer writes for the Treating Anxiety blog, but we’re still really glad it helped you. It’s on of my favorite posts!

    Greg

  15. jen says:

    I get anxiety attacks when im stressed.. Does having too much caffee also trigger an attack?

  16. Greg Weber says:

    Jen,

    Caffeine can definitely trigger anxiety attacks, or at least make them worse.

  17. Kim says:

    I have had anxiety from a child but didn’t know what was happening , I still have the attacks I can’t handle them once I have one it affects my whole day, they just come their is nothing that triggers them?just last night I had one & it was me thinking about my mom dieing that happens a lot , then it could be any one in my family even my dogs & sometimes I have 1000 things going thew my head I get up walk around & it doesn’t do any good, I take meds for it but it doesn’t work sometimes , but I will try some of what’s on the list & hope for the best , Thank you for the list!

  18. Teresa says:

    My anxiety is what I call normal except driving. Up or down mountains, twisting roads I fall apart crying an sick to my stomach this is bad as I’m a traveler for work any words of advice would be appreciated thk you

  19. Greg Weber says:

    Hi Teresa,

    Kate White no longer writes for the Treating Anxiety blog, even though she wrote this awesome post. I actually have a website for driving anxiety that you might want to check out:
    http://www.drivingpeace.com/blog/

    Thanks!

    Greg Weber

  20. Listening to calming music can help you relax. Its best to do it without headphones. Also walking in a park can help reduce anxiety I find. Also I have stopped drinking soda drinks and that helps too.

  21. James Boggs says:

    I am in a relationship with an amazing lady. She suffers from CPTSD but would rather think she is normal than to deal with the issue. We have random arguments about anything that brings stress. Everything seems to be worst case as soon as the stress hits. We cannot afford counseling. I have forwarded these techniques to her hopefully this could be the start of something good for her. She used to get locked up in a house for days at a time. I don’t want her to re-live the experience so I don’t push for details. She wants help. My help. I have her safe she still has to deal with the person who caused the trauma because they have kids together. She deserves to have some peace.

  22. Mumtaz says:

    My anxiety comes during driving and oral examination when talking with someone.
    Cannot talk between group of people.
    Heart racing before start of examination( any type of exam )
    I now medicine made it worse .

  23. Michael says:

    I get verry angist all the time I have fight with my mom and dad there both in there late 80eighties I yell and scream all the time don’t now what to due due you have any thoughts on what I can due about my problems I go for therapy now at bridges that in Milford please help me

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