Anxiety creeps up on us at the most inconvenient times. Sometimes we let it consume us so much that we can’t seem to think of anything else.
Here are some grounding techniques that my therapist taught me when my anxiety was super intense. They would allow me to step out of my anxiety — even if for just a few seconds — so I could effectively use my cognitive-behavioral therapy tools to move forward.
1. Take a cold shower.
When anxiety hits, your body temperature increases due an increased heart rate. When you take a cold shower, multiple things happen:
• Your body temperature drops
• Your heart rate returns to normal
• Oxygen supply to your brain improves
• The blood flow moves away from your core
Cold showers can also increase endorphins (the feel-good hormone), which decrease cortisol (the stress-inducing hormone).
2. Grab a handful of ice.
Just like a cold shower, the ice helps jolt your system out of fight or flight. It allows you to focus on your immediate surroundings and grounds you in your physical body.
It can also trigger a pain-like response in your brain that will refocus your brain signals, away from panic.
3. Do 30 second wall sits.
Stand with your back against the wall and your feet hip-distance apart. Bend your knees until you are sitting at a right angle.
This pose forces the release of muscular tension, causes your legs to shake (which is a good thing!), and pulls the focus away from the anxious thoughts in your head down towards your lower body. Now that your focus is on your legs and feet, you'll find yourself grounded in the present moment.
4. Participate fully.
Anxiety pulls you away from the present moment, and often the present moment consists of being with other people. If your anxiety is distracting you while with friends or family, try to fully participate in the conversation or activity. Instead of going through the motions and nodding/smiling on auto-pilot, try to actually listen to what others are saying. Participate in a debate. Start a new topic of conversation. Anything to get our of your own mind and into the present moment.
5. Talk back to your anxiety.
This technique is extremely useful in separating yourself from your anxiety. Sometimes we become so consumed in our anxious thoughts that it becomes our whole being. Try to acknowledge the anxiety as a separate entity. If your inner critic is saying all of these negative things to you, just talk back:
"Thanks for stopping by, anxiety, but I got this."
"I'm busy with my friends right now, maybe I'll revisit your concerns later."
"At this moment, I'm not in any danger, but thanks for your help."