If you are struggling with anxiety or having flashbacks to painful memories, try an exercise called “grounding” to help you stay calm. Grounding involves becoming more aware of where you are in the moment, creating a safe place in your mind, and calming your emotions. There are lots of ways to try grounding. Here are several you can try to get you started:
- Look around the room that you are in. Name the objects in the room aloud or in your head. You can even walk around the room and pick them up or touch them if it helps keep you calm.
- Start moving. Exercise, stretch, or take walk or go running. Pay attention to your surroundings – objects, smells, and temperature.
- Keep a “worry stone” in your pocket. Rub on it if you find yourself becoming tense, and focus on something that will help keep you calm. This is also a discreet way to manage anxiety in public.
- Count to 50, or recite the alphabet very slowly. Sing a song (out loud or in your head), recite a poem, Bible verse, or prayer.
- Start a game of “categories.” Choose a category and list off as many things as possible in that category. Some ideas: vacation destinations, words that start with the letter “B,” celebrities, U.S. states, or your favorite things.
- Look at a picture of people who care about you or a place that has meaning. Observe the details in the picture, connect with positive feelings you may have had in that moment.
- Run your hands under cool water, hold a cool washcloth, or take a shower or bath.
- Listen to music that helps you to calm down or that reminds you of something positive.
- Wrap yourself in a favorite blanket; hold a stuffed animal, pillow, or other comfort object.
- Recognize your current place and time. Repeat to yourself where you are, the day and date, the season, your name, your birthdate, your age, etc.
As you go through this process, try to push away any negative thoughts that enter your mind. If one method doesn’t work, move on to another. It is also helpful to practice grounding when you’re not feeling anxious so you are better prepared to stay calm when the anxiety starts creeping up again.