Most of our stress and anxiety comes from being disconnected from our bodies. And the more rooted we are in our bodies, the less stress and anxiety we experience. The whole idea of grounding techniques is to bring you back into contact with the present moment.
Grounding exercises can be quick (like take a few deep breaths) or a bit more complicated, and we’re going to explore them all and I will guide you through each and every one of them.
First, I want to share my personal experience with grounding techniques. Let me give you a little bit of a background here.
As most of you know, I’m a certified Life coach and Cognitive behavioral therapy practitioner. But maybe some of you don’t know that I used to struggle with panic attacks in high school and the grounding techniques that I’m about to share with you worked wonders for my anxiety.
It’s important to note that different strategies work for different people, and there is no right or wrong way to ground yourself. The important thing is to keep your mind and body connected and working together.
Here are my 8 favorite grounding exercises for anxiety. Click here to listen to the audio version of this blog post:
1. Deep Breathing
We’ll start this list with the most popular grounding technique. You’re going to need 5-10 minutes. If you’re driving, skip this one. Go somewhere you know you won’t be disturbed and sit down or lie down.
Now, close your eyes and take a few deep breaths in through the nose and out through the mouth. When you inhale, try to trace the breath of fresh air as it enters your nose and goes into your lungs. When you exhale, follow the air leaving your lungs and your mouth.
Try to observe the breath instead of forcing it with your mind. Let your body lead and let go of control.
You may now open your eyes, take a look around and see if this grounding technique is the right one for you.
2. Describe What’s Around You
Take a look around and describe what you see. I’ll give you an example and let you do the exercise for a few minutes:
“Okay, I see a glass table in front of me. I’m sitting on a sofa and there’s a soft white blanket nearby. The sun is shining through the window. There are three big windows in front of me. Next to my sofa, there is a dining table with 4 chairs, etc.”
Try to be as descriptive as you can. Do it for a few minutes and come back when you’re done to continue with the next grounding exercise.
3. Body Scan
We will try another breathing exercise. Again, if you’re driving, skip this one. You’re going to need a few minutes.
Close your eyes and take a deep breath in through the nose and out through the mouth.
Now, imagine that the sun is shining, as you’re laying at a place where you feel safe: the beach, your favorite spot at the park, or simply looking through the window curled up in your favorite blanket.
Notice the warm sunlight going through your body, starting at the top of your head. Then, moving down to your neck, your chest, your hands, your belly area, your legs, up until it reaches your feet.
Breathe slowly and deeply.
Now, you can go back to your normal pace of breathing. Open your eyes when you’re ready and move your hands and legs gently.
4. Surrounding Sounds
This one is pretty self-explanatory. You just need to stop and listen.
Notice and name what sounds you can hear nearby. Start with the closest sounds. Then, move your awareness of sounds outward, so you are focusing on what you can hear in the distance.
5. Hot or Cold
One of the quickest and easiest grounding techniques is to use sensations that are hot or cold.
You don’t have to go to extremes, you can just make yourself a cup of tea or coffee and hold it in both hands. Feel its warmth. Inhale its scent. Don’t rush drinking it; take small sips, and take your time tasting it.
For the cold part of this exercise, go to your fridge and take an ice cube, touch it gently with your hands, feel its shape for a few seconds. Or if you’re not a fan of extremely low temperatures (as me), just go to the sink and splash a little bit of cold water on your face or your hands.
You’ll see how quickly it will snap you back to reality.
6. The 5-4-3-2-1 Method
This is a combination of some of the previous ones, but it’s one of the most effective, so I recommend you give it a try.
Here’s how it goes: acknowledge FIVE things you can see around you, FOUR things you can touch, THREE things you can hear, TWO things you can smell, and finally ONE thing you can taste.
7. Put on a Favorite Scent
If you’re into perfumes, go grab your favorite one and spray your wrists and behind your ears. Or defuse some essential oils.
My best recommendations for anxiety are lavender, tea tree oil, peppermint, and lemongrass. You can also burn a candle with your favorite vanilla scent or anything else that brings you happiness and is strong enough to bring you back to the present moment.
8. Mindful Walking
For this one, it’s best you do it outside. But if you’re at home right now and you want to experience quick results, you can do it there as well.
Get up and walk around. Every time you take a step, count it. Concentrate on your steps. Notice how it feels to put your foot on the ground and then lift it again. Notice the surface you’re walking on, the sensations you feel in your feet, and the weight of your body.
Once you’re done, sit back and relax.
If you have any other grounding techniques that work for you, please share them in the comments below. As far as these ones go, which one did you like the most? Share in the comments 👇