Top 21 Anxiety Grounding Techniques

Saturday, September 11 2010 Kate White

21 anxiety grounding techniques to help you cope with stress, anxiety, panic and PTSD. From Kate White. Treating Anxiety Blog.

Sometimes the worst stress comes from the things that are all too terribly familiar. There are times that anxiety can make even daily tasks seem insurmountable, even though I've done them countless times before. I know it's something I can do, it's just that in that moment it's implausible, nigh on impossible I could do it again.

What makes simple tasks so hard?

What thoughts or behaviours 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.

Treat Anxiety with Grounding Skills

tree_of_life_grounding_anxietyIf 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. Bring up today's newspaper on the web, notice the date. Read something fun!
  2. Breathe slowly and steadily from your core. Imagine letting fear and worry go, evaporating along with each breath.
  3. Trace your hands against the physical outline of your body. Experience your own presence in the world.
  4. Call a friend and have a chat.
  5. If you are feeling 'stuck', 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. Is it hot, or cold? Sweet, or sour?
  7. Meditate, if that's OK for you. Otherwise use distractions like television or music to help settle down.
  8. Use your voice. Say your name or pick up a book and read the first paragraph you find out loud.
  9. Look at yourself in the mirror. Smile, even if that's the last thing you feel like! How does that feel? What can you see? (If negative thoughts come to mind, write them down to look at later but let them go for now. You're anxious enough as it is.)
  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.
  11. Take a shower/bath. Notice the sensations of the water.
  12. Write somebody you care about an email.
  13. Imagine yourself in a familiar, comfortable place. Feel the safety. Know it.
  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.
  17. Laugh. Even if that's hard. Just the act of laughing about something, anything can break that spinning out of control feeling.
  18. When you're not too stressed, make a list of the things that provoke your anxiety. Take it to your therapist and ask them 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.
  19. If you get PTSD flashbacks, when you're feeling OK, make a list of the furniture in your home and what room it's in. Give the list to a friend you can call to help you focus on what's now and safe.
  20. List 5 really positive things in your life. Put the list where you'll see it and remember that there's more to the world than just panic and fear.
  21. Think about the last week. Was there a day you didn't have so much anxiety? Remember how it felt to be less anxious than you are right now. What was different? What can change?

Once you've found which techniques help, make a list to put on your wall, or carry in your pocket.

Top 21 Anxiety Grounding Techniques

Jaliya
says:
May, 25 2018 at 9:32 pm
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 :-)
stress
says:
May, 25 2018 at 9:32 pm
stress...

What are the latest methods found for managing stress?...
Kate White
says:
May, 25 2018 at 9:32 pm
Yay for the link love! Cheers, hun.

*wonders if editors here allow reciprocal linkage*
Maddy
says:
May, 25 2018 at 9:32 pm
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.
Kate White
says:
May, 25 2018 at 9:32 pm
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!)
rainbowdancers
says:
May, 25 2018 at 9:32 pm
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.
Katie Saint
says:
May, 25 2018 at 9:32 pm
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.
Ashley McCarty
says:
May, 25 2018 at 9:32 pm
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.
Anxiety and Zen Gardens | Anxiety-Schmanxiety Blog - HealthyPlace
says:
May, 25 2018 at 9:32 pm
[...] happen. We can make it happen, and we don’t need fairy tale magic. There’s a great variety of techniques that can be used to beat anxiety. Because anxiety is so insidiously stubborn, though, it does take [...]

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Connie
says:
May, 25 2018 at 9:32 pm
Wow, except for the age difference Ashley's systems fit me - it all started about a month ago when diagnosed with pulsatile tinnitus and told nothing serious but nothing could be done - hence panic & anxiety - is there a way I can see your response to her or anyone with similar symptoms Also how can I get help? Can this be done without a doctor or medication? Have tried xanax seems to help but anxiety returns this is really scary -

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Connie
says:
May, 25 2018 at 9:32 pm
Wow, except for the age difference Ashley's systems fit me - it all started about a month ago when diagnosed with pulsatile tinnitus and told nothing serious but nothing could be done - hence panic & anxiety - is there a way I can see your response to her or anyone with similar symptoms Also how can I get help? Can this be done without a doctor or medication? Have tried xanax seems to help but anxiety returns this is really scary -
Sheila Barrera
says:
May, 25 2018 at 9:32 pm
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.
Marge Pertuit
says:
May, 25 2018 at 9:32 pm
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.
Knija
says:
May, 25 2018 at 9:32 pm
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.
Tracy
says:
May, 25 2018 at 9:32 pm
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
Greg Weber
says:
May, 25 2018 at 9:32 pm
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
jen
says:
May, 25 2018 at 9:32 pm
I get anxiety attacks when im stressed.. Does having too much caffee also trigger an attack?
Greg Weber
says:
May, 25 2018 at 9:32 pm
Jen,

Caffeine can definitely trigger anxiety attacks, or at least make them worse.
Kim
says:
May, 25 2018 at 9:32 pm
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!
Teresa
says:
May, 25 2018 at 9:32 pm
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
Greg Weber
says:
May, 25 2018 at 9:32 pm
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:
www.drivingpeace.com/blog/

Thanks!

Greg Weber
Vic Stathopoulos
says:
May, 25 2018 at 9:32 pm
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.
James Boggs
says:
May, 25 2018 at 9:32 pm
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.
Mumtaz
says:
May, 25 2018 at 9:32 pm
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 .
Michael
says:
May, 25 2018 at 9:32 pm
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
Scott Jeffrey
says:
May, 25 2018 at 9:32 pm
This is a great list of grounding methods, Kate. I'd like to suggest one more: earthing. Take off your shoes and socks and plant your feet directly on the earth. It's a powerful way to ground yourself when you're feeling anxiety. Research suggests that 20 minutes of earthing a day can also heal a host of ailments -- especially issues related to inflammation.
Fenway Mommy
says:
May, 25 2018 at 9:32 pm
Michael mom's and pops probably are the last people that you want to yell at but they are the ones that are there with you in the middle of the traffic ....is it anxiety or anger you feel and what triggers it?
RavenSky
says:
May, 25 2018 at 9:32 pm
What have you did to help with your driving anxiety because I habe that also
calzoncillos calvin klein baratos contrareembolso
says:
May, 25 2018 at 9:32 pm
Heya! I'm at work browsing your blog from my new apple
iphone! Just wanted to say I love reading your blog and look
forward to all your posts! Carry on the fantastic work!
Kristan
says:
May, 25 2018 at 9:32 pm
I just feel like I'm looking thru a fog constantly. Like my body is here but my mind is not to the point where I'm actually forgetting that I even did stuff? I feel like I'm going crazy because it's been happening everyday for a couple months. What is wrong with me?? What can or should I do to make it stop?
Sarah Hackley
says:
May, 25 2018 at 9:32 pm
Hi, Kristan. Have you heard of dissocation? You can read more here: https://www.healthyplace.com/abuse/dissociative-identity-disorder/definition-of-dissociation-symptoms-causes-treatments/. If that sounds like what you're experiencing, you may want to bring it up to your therapist or doctor.
Brooke
says:
May, 25 2018 at 9:32 pm
Hi my names brooke and I've been suffering from social anxiety for awhile now due to very low self esteem and confidence. I don't have much financial stability at all which is why I haven't tried many things other then lots of research, I was wondering if you could suggest in your opinion what the quickest and most effective type of treatment would be ?
Melissa Renzi
says:
May, 25 2018 at 9:32 pm
Hi Brooke, thanks for reaching out. The gold standard for effective treatment remains cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which is generally short-term, solution-focused therapy designed to change patterns of thinking and behavior to change how we respond to specific challenges. It's ideal to work with a psychotherapist. There are some computer-based CBT programs out there that you could try. I've also found tapping to be a useful tool to use before I teach a workshop or am feeling anxious before a large social engagement. https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/treatinganxiety/2017/08/a-technique-to-calm-anxiety-when-breathing-isnt-working/ and here is some more info on SAD: https://www.healthyplace.com/anxiety-panic/social-anxiety-disorder/social-anxiety-treatment-social-phobia-treatment-that-works/
Maria Cervantez
says:
May, 25 2018 at 9:32 pm
Moving your fingers is actually a very effective technique channeling the anxiety into a rhythmic movement in your fingers forces you to focus your attention on the rhythmic movements and music incorporated in this activity is twice as effective
Dave
says:
May, 25 2018 at 9:32 pm
Brooke, Sounds like you are creating built up anxiety, go outside barefoot and ground youirself for at least 20 minutes and release the built up stress.
Nina Edgar
says:
May, 25 2018 at 9:32 pm
I was recently dignoised with Depression, Dissociation and PTSD! I'm hearing 3 plus voice's in my head. Mostly just one and she's very nasty mouthed. This is so hard. My therapist hasn't put me on any meds yet and it's getting out of control. It's starting to affect my marriage,, family, etc... And I can't remember my childhood to save my life. Can you help please!? Thanks!
Melissa Renzi
says:
May, 25 2018 at 9:32 pm
Hi Nina, I'm so sorry you're experiencing such a rough time. Since you're receiving professional care, my suggestion is to contact your therapist to get an appointment (or see if you can get one sooner if one is scheduled). Explain the level of despair that you're feeling to your therapist. Here's an article with some additional info that may be useful to you: https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/dissociativeliving/2016/06/hearing-voices-in-dissociative-identity-disorder/. I hope your therapist can help you find some relief.
Hannah
says:
May, 25 2018 at 9:32 pm
I've been having such horrible anxiety lately to where I feel like I cant breathe and that leads to me having panic attacks. I have no insurance so medicene is off the table but yesterday i had one so bad that I had to go to the hospital and receive a shot of ativan. It's a daily battle with me. Do you know anything that could help?

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Tanya J. Peterson, MS, NCC
says:
May, 25 2018 at 9:32 pm
Hi Hannah,
Anxiety and panic are terrible experiences. I'm sorry that you're dealing with them so much lately. Believe it or not, your comment highlights a very important first step in stopping anxiety and panic: breathing. When anxiety increases, the breath becomes shallow and rapid, and this leads to panic. If you can notice yourself feeling anxious and starting to breathe too quickly (sometimes it's hard to notice until you're panicking), you can purposely take a series of slow, deep breaths. It calms the brain and creates physiological changes that reduce anxiety. From there, you can take a mindful walk (even a short trip through your house), stretch, drink water, eat something healthy, or do any number of things that are comforting to you to pull your body out of anxiety/panic mode. This can help you in the moment as well as decrease anxiety and panic over time.
Melissa Renzi
says:
May, 25 2018 at 9:32 pm
Hi Hannah, I'm so sorry to hear you're experiencing such a tough time with anxiety symptoms. Of course, a professional counselor would be optimal, but if the cost is too much for you at this time, then it would be good if you can find some ways to cope. Everyone is different, but here are a few tools that help me. Tapping is one of them: https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/treatinganxiety/2017/08/a-technique-to-calm-anxiety-when-breathing-isnt-working/ I also find it really vital for my own mental health to spend time in nature: https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/treatinganxiety/2017/09/7-quick-ways-to-use-nature-to-treat-anxiety/ I hope you can get on a path of being able to manage your symptoms. Also, one of thing to consider is online therapy. I wrote about that in one of my last posts as well on the "Treating Anxiety" blog. It can be more cost-effective if that's an issue.
May
says:
May, 25 2018 at 9:32 pm
Hi, My name's May and I suffer from Anxiety. This leads to me not being able to sleep. When people say they don't feel good, I fear they are going to die. At nights, I find myself checking my pulse to make sure I'm alive. I check my parent's breathing when they are asleep to make sure they're alive. I don't know why, but I do. Do you have any advice to perhaps make me stop worrying and get decent rest?
Melissa Renzi
says:
May, 25 2018 at 9:32 pm
Hi May, I'm sorry to hear you are experiencing such anxiety. You're certainly not alone in your fears. It can be scary to think about losing the people we love. Have you tried speaking with a therapist? I have a few techniques that I use to help me sleep when anxiety is keeping me awake. Here's one of them:https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/treatinganxiety/2017/08/a-technique-to-calm-anxiety-when-breathing-isnt-working/. Please do seek out some support and talk to your parents about what you're feeling.
Kirizzy
says:
May, 25 2018 at 9:32 pm
I have to say that both my anxiety and depression don't ever leave me alone, it's been this way since i was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes 10 years ago and i cannot help but feel like i'm in a constant war with my own thoughts and feelings. I feel so crippled some days that i don't even want to get up in the morning or do anything except cry for no reason. It would be better if i could just turn off my brain.
Kerry
says:
May, 25 2018 at 9:32 pm
Hi Kirizzy... I'm so sorry you're in pain! Life is too short to be sad. It sounds like you're feeling defeated by your diabetes. I hope you're able to see your diagnosis as something to be proud of. You were given this life to learn lessons from it. I hope you learn that you didn't do anything wrong to deserve this diagnosis, and you're completely worthy of love and joy. Get out there and wave your "freak flag" proudly. We all have something going on, one of your things is diabetes. Educate others about it, you may start to feel proud of how you've balanced your life because of it. Obviously, i'm sure its inconvenient to say the least... but it was the cards you were dealt. Are you going to fold or are you going to play?
Miles
says:
May, 25 2018 at 9:32 pm
Hey friend! I'm a teenager and i was diagnosed with T1D five years ago in a few months. I'm really sorry you have to go through this, i know how it feels and it's awful. I have clinical depression and pretty much all forms of anxiety and it sucks. But it does get better. If you have friends to talk to about it, then do it. I know at my clinic there are a few therapists with good knowledge of T1D and psychology, so you could always talk to them too.
What you described is exactly how i feel sometimes. It's awful but there are good days that make it worth it.
I hope you can feel better soon <3
Katelyn
says:
May, 25 2018 at 9:32 pm
I've been struggling with anxiety and panic attacks for a while now. I'm not sure why but it usually stems from the thought of dying and not knowing what happens. This never really has happened until the past year or so and when I have an episode (most of the time its completely random) I get violently ill from the stress and panic. I don't want to resort to medication but at this point i'm not sure what to do.
Jane
says:
May, 25 2018 at 9:32 pm
Hi folks my name is Jane and I suffer from anxiety, ocd and body dysmorphia (controlled). I share your pain living with anxiety.
Panic attacks, pulsating tinnitus, palpations, sweats, the negative voice in your head constantly dragging and forcing you down, the worst case scenario of every situation played out in your mind before you even consider attempting it and the fear of dying, fear of dying while walking anywhere alone and panicking about who will find you, going to sleep terrified you might not wake up, fear of loved ones dying, fear of losing everything and everyone that means something to you, the list goes on...... living with that every single day, trying to hold down your job, trying to hold down your relationship (if you can even do relationships) it generates a hell of a lot of stress, the anxiety itself generates more anxiety. I had cbt therapy for 6 months and it helped me so much, it really did help me change the way I dealt with my issues. I was practically anxiety free for a year and a half following therapy but unfortunately it’s returned again :(
Something that helps relax and calm my mind is asmr videos on YouTube. You can search specifically for asmr anxiety videos, sleep videos..... headphones required for best effect. I recommend giving it a try. It seems a bit weird at first but some of the videos are super relaxing I manage to fall asleep most nights listening to it.
Edward Hannan
says:
May, 25 2018 at 9:32 pm
Seem like a lot of fear in people on here , fear of people , fear of dying. Try to focus on meeting people maybe two an do that a bit . Build up your strength an think that was ok . Maybe walk with them , sleep seems an issue .try staying up late by say two hours . Get tired . Excersise helps . Try an break the cycle . I had a tension head ache very minor . I drank a very small cup of cider . It went almost straight away . Natural apple juice almost . Learn to relax, focus the mind on a favourite TV programme what ever it mabe for you. Keep cool if you sweat because of anxiety. Not to many bed duvet or blankets . Find a place of comfort . Keep mixing with friends. Get help if you can't phone someone . We are all humans , it's ok to have a bad day . Seek fun or humour . Talk like Donald duck . Bet yiu don't feel sad doing it . Try it go on. Think postive thoughts . Hey good luck to all on here . Progress can be slow trust me I know .
Hilary Benoit
says:
May, 25 2018 at 9:32 pm
I have had panic attacks since I was 2 yrs old. However my father left my mom when she was still pregnant with me and I grew up with a very verbally /emotionally abusive grandmother around.. This slowly turned into PTSD as I was bullied in elementary by two 7th graders and a girl in my year. My brother was extremely overprotective of me and would not let me out of his sight except for class or at home.. ( he got that from my dad ).. However in Grade 10 he started to scare me as his temper seemed to flair as I was more independant ( thabks to mom), and every time we argued I had to put a table in between us so he didnt get violent..( also he made me flashback a few times to the 7th graders) .. I was also admitted to the hospital for a drug dose that they gave me which caused me to go comatose.. ( I also broke my back at the same time) Finally in the past two years though I have spoken to a phycologist and was able to get some of it off my chest. Only some.. Other stuff- I just am not ready to talk about yet.. And that stuff usually keeps me awake at night.. However I deal with flashbacks by reciting what I love about myself. Or even city names of where I lived/ or would like to live. Other times I listen to music.. Pace.. or even meditate..

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