Using Grounding Strategies for Anxiety + Stress
Updated: Aug 18, 2021
Have you been dealing with anxiety or struggling to manage stress? It is an awful feeling when you've tried everything you can think of to turn off the looping, negative thoughts in your mind but they just won't quit. It can cause sleepless nights, difficulty focusing during the day, and overall feelings of unhappiness.
When working with clients, I find it empowering for them to understand what is happening in their brain when they are feeling this way. One important thing to know is that the part of our brain responsible for anxiety and activating our stress-response doesn't process language. Meaning that all your time spent trying to convince your mind "I'm ok", "We can worry about that tomorrow", or "There is nothing I can do about that in this moment"- go unheard. Yet, this part of your brain can learn to relax and de-activate if it feels reassured in a way it can understand.
One helpful approach is to reassure this part of our brain involves utilizing grounding strategies. Grounding strategies focus on bringing us back into the present moment, acknowledging that the worried thoughts our mind is stuck on usually live in the past or the future. By using our 5 senses, grounding helps us tune back into the present and regain control over worried thinking. Grounding strategies are most effective when we are feeling activated or on-edge but are not actively experiencing panic or severe overwhelm.
There are 3 different types of grounding:
Each can be helpful to help us reconnect and recenter, but -just as we are not all visual learners- we are not all "physical grounders" either. Feel free to try out several different tools and see which is the most effective for you! Check out the video below for some examples to help you get started: