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Grounding Techniques for Post Traumatic Stress, Anxiety and Panic Attacks

Updated on August 21, 2016
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How to Use Grounding Exercises for Anxiety Relief

Grounding techniques are effective in reducing the symptoms when anxiety and panic are triggered. Grounding techniques are also helpful for those who experience dissociation, depersonalization, or PTSD flashbacks and triggers. When feeling stressed and anxious try a grounding exercise to calm down and stay in the present.

Often our anxiety makes us lose sense of the environment around us as we become caught up in the panic, pounding heartbeat and terror of an anxiety trigger. Mental health therapists teach self grounding techniques to their clients to help with a variety of stress disorders.

Self grounding techniques can be as simple as counting, bringing your surroundings into your senses, stamping your feet, imagery, breathing, or holding a familiar object. There are so many different techniques I'm sure you'll find one that works for you.

Discover What Your Anxiety Triggers Are

Keep a Diary or Journal of Your Triggers

I've found that just knowing what will trigger my anxiety has been helpful to keep me coping in healthy ways. I have post traumatic stress (PTSD) in which my body is on hyperarousal. It's like having an panic attack that just won't stop. I've had to learn ways to teach my body to calm down from this extreme anxiety. Rather than using just one technique I use several different methods, so that I have a toolbox of tools for anxiety relief.

I started by writing down some of the situations that I know will trigger an anxiety attack. Being able to identify some of the potential triggers for me helps me to practice calming and grounding techniques before the anxiety gets wound up on full throttle. Of course you can't always predict anxiety causing situations, but when you can it makes it a lot easier when you are prepared.

My Favorite Grounding Technique - Using Your Senses to Ground Yourself

I use this grounding technique most often because it requires me to think a lot about what's going on around me. It keeps me in the present moment and reminds me that I'm safe when feeling triggered.

  1. Eyes: Name 3 things you see.

    I see a toy wagon, a blue and white car, and a white rabbit.

  2. Nose: Name 3 things you smell.

    I smell flowers, fresh cut grass, and coffee.

  3. Ears: Name 3 things you hear.

    I hear the rain falling, a baby crying, and a train rumbling.

  4. Touch: Name 3 things you feel.

    I feel the warm wind on my face, the blister on my toe, and the ring on my finger.

Ten Simple Grounding Techniques for Anxiety and Stress - What to do When You Space Out

  1. Using a grounding phrase such as "I'm okay", or "I'm safe".
  2. Focus on your breath. Inhale and count to six, exhale while you count to four.
  3. Chew gum. If it's bubble gum, blow bubbles.
  4. Stomp your feet on the ground.
  5. Image yourself by the ocean and visualize the waves going in and out.
  6. Write out your feelings in a journal.
  7. Hold onto something comforting like a soft stuffed bear, a blanket, or a pet.
  8. Go for a walk or run. Focus on the world around you.
  9. Progressively relax your muscles starting with your feet, working your way up your body releasing the tension as you go.
  10. Take a shower or a bath. Focus on feeling the water on your body.

For more stress management tips check out Help for Panic Attacks.

Do you use grounding techniques to manage your stress and anxiety? - Or just leave a note to say you stopped by

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    • CreativeExpress profile image

      CreativeExpress 3 years ago

      This is an excellent lens with great information! I've been learning how to deal with my emotions and have suddenly recognized the high level of anxiety I'm under at times. When I'm consciously aware of it occurring, I've used breathe work and journaling,because that's all I knew to do. However, I'm now eager to try some of the suggestions you've listed.

    • CraftaholicVete profile image

      CraftaholicVete 4 years ago

      I do sometimes but what works for me but also backfires sometimes is I keep myself busy then I wear myself out because I can't sleep or I sleep too much. I use crafts and it helps me a lot.

    • profile image

      rcarlton83 4 years ago

      These techniques are definitely different, but they sure beat all of the medicine that they try to pump into us. Thanks for the info!

    • LiftingTheClouds profile image

      LiftingTheClouds 5 years ago

      Thank you for this lens. I use mindfulness of the breath as well as flowers and a small crystal.

    • profile image

      JoshK47 5 years ago

      A wonderful resource you've put together here - I'm not sure I've ever used this approach, but I'll definitely keep it in mind next time I feel anxiety start to creep up. Blessed by a SquidAngel!

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