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  • Kelly Tennant

Grounding techniques for anxiety

Updated: Feb 4, 2022

With the ongoing uncertainty around Covid and the rise of the Omicron variant, a lot of people are experiencing new or worsening anxiety right now, and this may be compounded for you if you're living with a chronic health condition that affects your immune system. In this post, I want to go through some simple techniques for reducing anxiety in the moment. We call these "grounding" techniques because they literally re-connect you with the Earth and with the present moment.

1) 5 Senses:

When you feel your anxiety rising, stay connected with the present and your environment by finding:

5 things you can see

4 things you can feel

3 things you can hear

2 things you can smell

1 thing you can taste

(Feel free to change this order to suit your own sensory abilities or sensitivities)

Why does this work? It forces you to think of something concrete outside of your own head and different from whatever is causing the anxiety.

2) 4 x 4 breathing:

This is a yoga breathwork technique that can help slow down the hyperventilation and heart rate increase that accompanies anxiety:

Take a deep, slow breath in to the count of 4

Breath out to the count of 4

Breath in again to the count of 4

Breath out to the count of 4

Continue until you feel a sense of physical calm in your body.

A variation on this is box breathing, where you hold each inhale and exhale for a count of 4 in between breaths. Another variation or addition to either of these is diaphragmatic breathing, where you focus on filling your chest with air and then emptying it. It helps to place a hand on your belly and heart to feel the filling and emptying of each breath in and out.

3) Mindfulness:

When we think of mindfulness, we think of meditation. If sitting still for extended periods of time and clearing your mind just doesn't work for you, you can still incorporate mindfulness into daily activities.

Mindfulness is the act of paying attention. Try to pay close attention to some routine part of your day that you would otherwise do without thought, such as washing your hands: feel the temperature of the water, the sensation of the soap, the well-practiced movements your hands make. When we mindfully perform physical activities, we're able to get ourselves out of our heads and into our bodies, focusing on the tangible.

I hope that one of these techniques resonates with you and that you're able to use it as one of your tools to manage your anxiety.

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