Grounding Ideas for when you feel anxious or overwhelmed
Updated: May 27, 2022
Lets face it dealing with anxiety, flashbacks, and overwhelming emotions is horrible. It can feel scary and it can feel like we have no control.
What has helped me and my clients, is to gain a little more understanding about what's going on for us in our brains and bodies in this moment.
Our Amygdala, the bit of the brain that's in charge of looking for danger has done a quick scan and has picked up on something that tells it we are in danger or dealing with a threat. Our front brain (the bit that helps us with critical thinking, problem solving and logic) has shut off. This means that we are not able in that moment to do a calm risk assessment to see if this is a real threat. We are also not necessarily in the place to think clearly about what our fear is, the likelihood of that fear happening, and what the result could look like. Our body is responding as if it is happening or about to happen.
In these moments we want to try and get our thinking brain back online. We can do this using grounding techniques.
Dealing with my own anxiety and working with clients, I have come across a lot of different grounding techniques that help to do just that and have put together some of my favourites.
Tip #1 - Starfish breathing/ 5 finger
Place your hand out in front of you and starting at your wrist slowly trace up your hand to the tip of your little finger. Breathing in deeply while you do this. When you get to the top trace downwards along the little finger breathing out slowly. You then repeat this on each finger and over to the next hand too.
Tip #2 - Imagine drawing around your feet
Make it as colourful as you like. I like to imagine colouring each toe in a different colour.
Tip #3 - Finding coloured objects
Look around your room and count or
name how many green things you have.
Still feel anxious, then pick another colour.
Tip #4 - Reassuring yourself
"Thank you anxiety for warning me and I'm listening to you but this time but I'm actually ok. I can do this."
Remind yourself that you are ok even
though it may not feel it. Anxiety makes your heart race, makes your hands sweaty, and you can feel on edge. Your body is getting ready to go into fight, flight or freeze. Your brain is trying to look out for you and reacting to threats.
Tip #5 - Five senses
This one is a popular technique as it uses our 5 senses to reconnect you with your surroundings and engage your thinking brain.
Name 5 things you can see
Name 4 things you can feel
Name 3 things you can hear
Name 2 things you can smell
Name 1 thing you can taste
Tip #6 - Lock away your stress
Take a deep breath and when you breath out, imagine you're breathing out all your worries and stresses into a chest. Once you're done, imagine yourself closing the chest.
I've found this is especially helpful when trying to fall asleep and your mind's racing through your problems.
I hope that this helps !