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Top 21 Anxiety Grounding Techniques

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.

38 thoughts on “Top 21 Anxiety Grounding Techniques”

  1. 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?

  2. 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?

    1. 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.

  3. 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!

    1. 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.

  4. 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

  5. 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 ?

    1. 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/

    2. 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.

  6. 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?

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