Grounding Exercises For Anxiety – An Epic Guide
When we’re feeling anxious and uneasy, it’s difficult to put our racing minds at rest. Thankfully there are things you can do that will straight away help to ease your mind.
When I was going through my anxiety disorder of nearly 20 years I had a great sense of being ungrounded. I constantly felt like I wasn’t really there, as if I was looking at myself living my life but never feeling the world around me.
Having a big sense of being ungrounded to the surrounding world can be a scary experience, it can leave you feeling as if you’re not really living your life for yourself.
Here’s some signs that you may be ungrounded from the world around you;
- You’re constantly anxious
- You feel like you’re not living in the present moment
- You feel like you’re watching yourself
- You get involved in drama easily
- You overthink all of the time
- You feel numb to your surroundings
In the last 15 years or so a lot of research has been done into grounding and centering yourself. Research into grounding and mindfulness as a whole is still young however millions swear by grounding techniques.
Research has shown that practising grounding exercises can;
- Lower blood pressure in the body
- Reduce imflamation
- Reduce stress
- Increases mood
- Improves immune response
Being Ungrounded Is An Epidemic
Doing grounding exercises for anxiety doesn’t just lower your day to day anxiety. People all over the world are less grounded. It’s become the way of the 21st century. We all live busy lives where we don’t stop enough and be mindful of what we’re actually doing and saying.
It’s almost as if we’re on autopilot a lot of the time and don’t really take things in properly as we jump to the next thing. Many people are attached to there phones, getting instant gratification from the content they consume.
It’s not so much the phones fault, but the way we’re trained to behave. Being ungrounded to what really matters, I think, is a serious issue.
I myself spent years reaching for the next thing, the next big idea and the next piece of gratification. It wasn’t until I stepped back and thought about what I was really doing I realised I was behaving in this way.
Being able to see the bigger picture was a huge part of my recovery. It didn’t happen overnight but it built up over time.
You can see people becoming ungrounded everyday. It’s evident in many celebrities for example. Some may have a very successful career and when that happens they are rewarded over and over. Of course, they deserve to be rewarded as they have worked hard to get where they are.
The issue is, they get trained to be rewarded for everything they do. Many of these highly successful celebrities lose touch with reality. The reality of daily life passes them by.
I like to use Justin Bieber as an example. He became hugely successful at a young age. He was rewarded constantly and likely lost track of what real life is meant to be about. Yes, the money and fame are fun but it can all come crashing down in an instant.
The world watched as he went from news headline to the next, getting into trouble time and time again.
In recent years he has calmed down and got back on track with his music. He admits that he’s more grounded now.
Justin Bieber is an extreme example of someone losing track with reality but you get the idea. It’s easy to get attached to needs and rewards which contributes to you becoming ungrounded.
Grounding Exercises For Anxiety
Grounding exercises for anxiety are designed to get you back into your right mind, reconnect with the world around you, and help you feel more in tune with the present moment.
The good news is, these exercises can be done relatively quickly and you can feel the effects right away. These are not designed to be long, complex exercises, instead they are everyday activities that you need to practise mindfully.
Essentially grounding yourself means reconnecting with the surrounding world. One of the best ways to do this is to connect with the natural environment around you.
This doesn’t mean becoming a ‘tree hugger’
I’ve put together a complete list of grounding exercises for anxiety to be a helpful resource. If you use any others that I don’t mention, please leave a comment at the end of this post!
1. Walk In The Grass Barefoot
duration: 5 mins
Finding some simple grass to walk on barefoot can be a very powerful grounding exercise for anxiety. Grounding ourselves has much to do with re-connecting with the earth which is something a lot of us don’t do enough of anymore.
Walk through the grass and notice how it feels on your bare feet. Let it connect itself with you as you step over it.
2. Lay Down On the Ground
duration: 5 mins
I used to love camping as a child. Being out in the open was always fun and it felt so natural and like I was meant to be there in nature.
Find somewhere outside to just lay down for a few minutes. Notice how the ground feels on your back and notice any sounds the grass and earth makes.
3. Feel Your Feet
duration: 30 seconds
When was the last time you paid your feet any attention? Hold or rub your feet gently and take notice of how they feel. Be mindful of the sensation. Your feet are what connect you to the ground and you feel the sensations of the world through them.
4. Have A Cold Shower
duration: 5 mins
Having a cold shower isn’t just great to have on hot days, it’s also a great way to ground yourself back into the present moment.
There’s no denying it puts your body into a ‘mini-shock’ and is one of the most effective ways of making you feel.
A cold shower is also great for your immune system. If you can’t jump straight into having a freezing cold shower, reduce the heat over time until you’re comfortable.
5. Notice Your Breathing
duration: at least one minute
Breathing has to be the thing we take for granted the most in life. We naturally do it and don’t even notice we’re doing it.
Because this is how we stay alive in the world, noticing your breathing can be a grounding experience. Take a deep breathe in, notice how it fills your lungs and the sensation when it flows back out.
Do this for at least a minute and you’ll feel not only more calm but also grounded.
6. Mindful Listening
duration: 3 mins
How many noises go through your ears each day? Some are pleasant and some not so much. Like breathing, we can find it easy to take the ability to hear the world for granted sometimes.
This works best in a natural environment but it can still work to a degree in an urban area. For this exercise though, try to go to a wooded area or a park.
Standing still, take notice of all the noises around you. What do the birds sound like? What do the trees sound like? Without going back and forth, think of their meaning.
The idea is not to judge any noises or put them in boxes. Simply allow yourself to hear the natural world happening around you.
7. Get Together With The Animals
duration: you decide!
Being around animals was something I used to love when I was a child. Whether it was stroking my own cat or going to a farm to see the vast amount of different animals, being around them can ground you instantly.
There’s something very raw about spending time with your pet or a more rural type of animal. They’re always fascinating to learn about and watch and show off nature in it’s purest form.
Animals can help you feel grounded and more peaceful, that’s why so many people love their pets. A dog does not judge, it simply exists and behaves like everyday is an adventure.
This grounding exercise for anxiety puts you back into the present moment and it’s really easy to do. It goes like this;
- Acknowledge, without judgement, five things around you. These can be anything depending on where you are.
- Acknowledge, without judgement, four things you can touch around you. These can be the chair you’re on, your clothing or your own leg.
- Acknowledge, without judgment, three things you can hear around you. They could be a bird singing, a car moving or music playing.
- Acknowledge, without judgement, two things that you can smell around you. This can be a food or any object around you.
- Acknowledge, without judgment, one thing you can taste. Maybe you just had breakfast or maybe the inside of your mouth or gums has a certain taste to it.
The 5-4-3-2-1 technique for grounding yourself is a simple yet effective exercise for anxiety and feeling ungrounded and can be practised daily.
With consistent mindful practise, this technique can be a great way to stop and reconnect with your surroundings when you start to drift.
Where, what, when and how are four simple questions that can ground you back into your present moment in time.
- Where am I right now?
- What am I doing right now?
- When did I get here?
- How did I get here?
Simple yet effective. A lot of times we just live our daily lives on autopilot so reconnecting with these basic questions can drop you back into the present moment by aligning yourself with reality.
It may feel silly when you practise an exercise like this, but when you start to ask yourself these questions you can uncover deeper thoughts that can push you forward even more.
You can start to notice if you like where you are in that moment, how you feel about it and how it and what you can do to change it if it’s not pleasant.
10. Start Practising Mindfulness
Thousands of people are keeping their anxiety disorders by using mindfulness exercises. It’s become a lot more popular in the west in recent years and looks like it’s going to stick around for the long haul.
Mindfulness is the number one grounding exercise for anxiety that I recommend simply because all the exercises done in mindfulness reconnect you with your surroundings and give you a sense of connection with the world around you.
They are most effective when practised everyday but can be learned easily. In fact, mindfulness has been shown to be as effective as anti-anxiety medication and other forms of treatment. You can read about it here.
One of the best books for mindfulness beginners that I personally love is; Mindfulness: A practical guide to finding peace in a frantic world
Written in a very friendly tone, this book is also one of the first audio books that I ever listened to. The author knows what he’s talking about an has a nice way of easing you into the mindfulness exercises.
Grounding Exercises For Anxiety That Work
I really believe that the list I’ve put together can help you become more grounded and at ease. Don’t feel like you have to do all of them on a regular basis though. This isn’t a strict list that you have to stick to.
Instead, try and incorporate a few of them each day to start changing your lifestyle day by day so you can start to feel grounded over time without having to deliberately think about it.
Start practising mindfulness too, pick up a hlepful guide and get an idea of what makes your brain reconnect with the natural world around you.
Here’s to your success – Sean