When stress or anxiety attacks you can use grounding techniques to step away from negative thoughts and calm down your mind.
Every day we as humans are facing stressful situations in our lives at work or at home. To overcome them and feel relaxed and focused again we must learn some new techniques.
Maybe the best way to beat anxiety, stress, or PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress-Disorder) is to use grounding techniques.
Grounding techniques can be defined as strategies or tools that can help a person to manage their traumatic memories or strong emotions.
Not every technique is suitable for every person. Here we will present to you grounding techniques for anxiety, managing stress or overcome negative emotions and bring back to the present.
It is up to you which one you will be using.
Grounding Techniques for Anxiety and Stress Relief
1. Body Awareness Technique
This technique works by the principle of directing your focus to sensations in the body. Each step creates a physical sensation and you should pay attention to that.
How to perform this grounding technique?
1. Take 5 long breaths through your nose and exhale through your lips.
2. Place your feet on the ground and wriggle your toes. Curl and uncurl your toes several times, remember to spend a moment to notice sensations in your feet.
3. Stomp your feet on the ground and pay attention to the sensations in your feet and legs.
4. Contract your hands into fists and then release them. Do this 10 times in a row.
5. Put your palms together and hold them at least 15 seconds. Try to keep them hard as you can to feel the sensations in your hands and arms.
6. Rub your palms together.
7. Put your hands over your head like you are trying to reach the sky. Keep this position for 5 seconds. Put your arms down and let them relax at your sides.
8. In the end take 5 more deep breaths through your nose and exhale through the mouth. Notice the feeling of calm in your body.
By bringing back in the moment and feeling sensations you are calming your mind and not think of negative things that are running through your head.
2. 5-4-3-2-1 Technique
From all grounding techniques this one is mostly used, maybe due to it is very simple. The purpose of the 5-4-3-2-1 technique is to notice small details that your mind usually would tune out.
First, what are 5 things that you can see? The secret is to look for small details like things that you usually don’t pay attention to. Like the pattern on the ceiling, the color of the object that you never notice.
Second, what are 4 things that you can feel? Notice the sensation of the sun on your skin, a sensation of the wind that blows to your face. Pick an object and examine its texture, weight, and physical properties.
Third, what are 3 things that you can hear? Pay special attention to the sounds that you ordinary don’t hear. Like the ticking clock, noise from the distance.
Fourth, what are 2 things that you can smell? Notice smells around you like freshly moved grass, air freshener, or the smell of your fruit in the fridge.
Fifth, what is 1 thing that you can taste? Focus your attention on the flavor of gum, candy, or whatever you have with you to taste.***
3. Box Breathing
Box breathing is another from grounding techniques mostly used as a grounding technique for stress relief.
This technique can be used from anyone and it is mostly used from Navy SEALs and police officers.
How to do box breathing?
Before you get started it is recommended to sit upright on the comfortable chair with your feet on the floor. Keep your hands relaxed in your lap with your palms facing up. Important, sit up straight so you can take deep breaths.
Slowly exhale through your mouth and get all the oxygen out of your lungs. Focus and be conscious of what you are doing.
Slowly inhale through your nose to the count of 4. Count to 4 very slowly in your mind. Feel the air filling your lungs and after that moving into the abdomen.
Hold your breath to another count to 4.
Slowly exhale through your mouth and again count to 4 in your mind. Be aware of the air leaving your lungs.
Hold your breath again for the same slow count of four before repeating this process.
You can do this grounding technique several times a day to calm your mind and release stress.
If you are a beginner with box breathing you may get dizzy after a few rounds but that is normal. If you get dizzy stay sitting for a minute and resume normal breathing.
As you practice more often the dizziness will go away.
4. Progressive Muscle Relaxation Exercise
When you are stressed or anxious one of the body responses is muscle tension. This exercise can be used as a ground technique for anxiety and progressive muscle relaxation is a method that relieves tension.
When your body is physically relaxed you can’t be anxious. Also this method helps if you have trouble falling asleep.
How to do progressive muscle relaxation?
First of all learn the muscle groups that you should tense. The core of this grounding technique for anxiety is to tense the muscles.
Muscle group and what to do:
- Forehead ( Wrinkle it into a deep frown)
- Around the eyes and bridge of the nose ( Close your eyes as tightly as you can)
- Cheeks and jaws (Smile as widely as you can.)
- Around the mouth (Press your lips together tightly. )
- Back of the neck (Press the back of your head against the floor or chair.)
- Front of the neck (Touch your chin to your chest.)
- Chest (Arch your back up and away from the floor or chair.)
- Stomach (Suck it into a tight knot.)
- Biceps and upper arms (Clench your hands into fists, bend your arms at the elbows, and flex your biceps.)
- Wrists and forearms (Extend them, and bend your hands back at the wrist.)
- Hands (Clench them.)
- Lower legs (Point your toes toward your face. Then point your toes away, and curl them downward at the same time)
Remember to choose a quiet environment where you can lie down on your back and stretch comfortably.
1. Take a deep breath in and tense the first muscle group for 4 to 10 seconds.
2. Breathe out and completely relax the muscle group.
3. Before you go on the next muscle group calm down for 10 to 20 seconds. Notice how your muscle feel when they are relaxed and tense.
4. After you go through all muscle groups count backward from 5 to 1 and bring your focus to the present moment.
To make it simple because it is not easy to remember all muscle groups and what to do, record what to do on your phone.
When you want to do this exercise just put your earphones on and listen to the instructions that you’ve recorded.
5. Get Out and Get Moving
Getting out to move your body or exercise can also help to put away the anxious thoughts. Changing the environment and physical activity can take up some of your brain space.
Whether it will be a long run or a simple jumping jack, feeling the sensations of exercise on your body can bring you back from a place of panic.
Here are some grounding techniques for anxiety and stress relief that you can do at the moment when you feel panic or negative thoughts.
Splash some water on your face, notice how it feels, and use words to describe that sensation.
Hold a warm mug of tea in your hands. Feel the warmth, inhale the scent, take small sips, and take your time tasting each mouthful.
Stand up and walk around. Take your time to notice each step as you take one, then another.
If you have a pet spend some time with them.
Put on a piece of instrumental music, enjoy and give it all your attention don’t think about anything else.
Final Thoughts: These are just the basic grounding techniques that can help you to bring back at the moment. Use them when anxiety or stress attacks you and you can’t put away those negative thoughts.
You can record or write one technique that really suits you and use anywhere when you need it. The problem with stress and negative thinking is that you’ll never know when they will come.
By using these grounding techniques you will become more relaxed, prepared for any situation, and challenges that come into your life.
Be prepared and never let negative thoughts to lead you in your life.