So what is this grounding anyway? Grounding refers to any exercises or tools that help us become more connected to our bodies, the present moment, and/or the world around us. First, I’m going to explain why grounding exercises are so helpful for anxiety. And then, I’m going to share some of my favorite grounding exercises with you so that you can see for yourself how helpful it is!
Let's Talk Anxiety
Here, we will focus on two aspects of anxiety: the mental aspect and the physical aspect.
The Mental Symptoms
Anxiety impacts our minds by creating all the “what-ifs” a person could ever dream of. It can also remind us of all the things that have gone wrong for us in the past. The thoughts that our anxiety conjures up only lead to the anxiety growing and worsening. So taking steps to become mentally present helps us interrupt our brain from reliving all the anxiety-provoking memories from our past and creating terrifying future hypotheticals. When we are successfully able to mentally ground ourselves in the present, we’ll feel relief that we aren’t actually facing any of the past or future events that worry us.
The Physical Symptoms
Then, we have the physical aspects of anxiety. The shaking, the sweating, the racing heart, the difficulties breathing, the tenseness in our muscles and the list goes on. When we are avoiding noticing what’s happening in our bodies, or even trying to keep our bodies from having some of those physical anxiety symptoms, we can inevitably worsen them.
For instance, say you are feeling anxious and shaking because of your anxiety. You don’t want to be shaky, so you tense your body to try to stop it — which is very challenging. If your body continues to involuntarily shake, you’ll likely get more worked up because you can’t seem to control it. So not only are you feeling anxious, but you’re feeling anxious AND upset that you cannot control the shaking. But, if you were to simply notice the shaking without attempting to control it, you would become more connected to your body and grounded. Feeling connected and grounded helps us naturally feel less anxious. This means that we are likely to stop shaking because we’re no longer anxious. Win-win.
Allie Shivener is a Licensed Professional Counselor with Mental Health Services Provider (LPC-MHSP) designation in the state of Tennessee. She specializes in counseling teenage girls and young adult women with negative body image, attachment and relationship issues, and adoption-related issues. Learn more about me here.
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