Grounding techniques are coping strategies used for anxiety that help a person focus on the present moment and distract them from anxious thoughts and feelings.
Grounding techniques are coping strategies used for anxiety that help a person focus on the present moment and distract them from anxious thoughts and feelings. People can practice grounding techniques to lessen anxiety symptoms and ground them so they return to a calmer emotional state.
1. Guided imagery is one grounding technique and it involves the person being guided to visualize a peaceful or safe place while focusing the mind on using the five senses so the person can imagine they are at their peaceful place. This helps with emotion regulation and has a calming effect.
2. Deep breathing, also known as diaphragmatic breathing, involves breathing in through the nose, completely filling the lungs with air while allowing the belly to rise, and then slowly exhaling through the nose. Deep breathing physiologically lowers stress and grounds the person in the present moment.
3. The 5-4-3-2-1 method which involves naming 5 things a person sees, 4 things they can touch, 3 things they can hear, 2 things they can smell, and one thing they taste in the moment.
Most activities that involve the five senses and help distract the person from the anxious feelings are grounding activities.
4. Below is a list of a few more grounding techniques to spark some ideas:
- Holding a piece of ice
- Taking a shower
- Savoring a food you enjoy
- Touching something close to you
- Getting some fresh air
- Taking a walk
- Smelling an aromatic scent like lavender
- Lighting a candle
- Playing a game
- Reciting something like a positive affirmation (e.g. I am calm, I am okay).
- Practice self-compassion by speaking to yourself like you would a close friend (e.g. You’re having a hard time, but self-care will see you through).
The purpose of grounding techniques is to consciously allow a positive distraction from anxious thoughts and feelings and allows a person to gain a sense of autonomy and control. Grounding techniques can be done anywhere, anytime. They are accessible and readily available to people who know what grounding techniques are. To be more effective, grounding techniques can be done regularly and in moments of heightened anxiety to help ward off intensified anxious feelings and manage anxiety symptoms.
Everyone has different likes and dislikes; therefore learning how to distinguish which grounding strategies work best for you and then practicing them regularly, can foster better moods, reduce anxiety, and promote a healthier state of mind and well-being.
Mental Health Services at CHE
When mental health conditions impede a person’s ability to lead a normal life, both psychiatry and psychology offer effective solutions for treatment and symptom relief.
If you are unsure which provider is best for your condition, contact your primary care physician to discuss the appropriate course of treatment.
CHE offers treatment for a variety of mental health issues virtually with our
Makenzie Pacubas, MSW, LCSW
CHE Quality Assurance Associate
Makenzie is a clinical social worker who has worked in the mental health field for over a decade and now works in clinical quality assurance with CHE Behavioral Health Services. Makenzie lives in Kansas City, Missouri with her husband, Justin, and their three pets. She likes music, singing, art, exercise, reading, getting outdoors, and trying new restaurants.