For individuals suffering anxiety symptoms, most breathing and relaxation techniques are effective; however, for sufferers of panic or trauma, some relaxation and breathing strategies can occasionally trigger intrusive memories or fear and dissociation. You may be able to reduce such reactions by focusing attention on the outside world rather than focusing internally. This process is known as ‘grounding’ (or distraction or healthy detachment). There are different forms of grounding outlined below; different strategies work best for different individuals and it is important to use the strategy that works to you.
Examples of mental grounding:
- Describe objects in your environment in detail using all your senses.
- Describe an everyday activity, such as eating or driving to work, in detail.
- Use a grounding statement. ‘I am Jo, I am 23 years old, I am safe here, today is…’.
- Say the alphabet slowly.
- Counting backwards from 20.
Examples of physical grounding:
- Run cool or warm water over your hands.
- Press your heels into the floor.
- Touch objects around you as you say their names.
- Jump up and down.
- Change your posture to a more upright one.
- As you inhale say ‘in’, and when you exhale say ‘out’ or ‘calm’ or ‘easy’ or ‘safe’.
Examples of soothing grounding:
- Rub nice smelling hand cream slowly into hands and arms and notice the feel and smell.
- Say encouraging statements to yourself such as ‘You’re okay, you’ll get through this’.
- Think of favourites of any kind of object (e.g., cars) or animal.
- Think of a place where you felt calm and peaceful, describe where you were, what was around you and what you were doing.
- Plan something nice for yourself such as a bath or a good meal.
- Think of things you look forward to doing in the next few days.