Today I will show you a wonderful grounding exercise to reduce anxiety.
Last night I was plagued with anxious thoughts. I ended up hardly sleeping at all. I did nothing to reduce anxiety or help myself last night. I didn’t even follow my own advice for anxiety and sleep from the other day.
Sometimes I still get overwhelmed with anxiety or stuck in a cycle of anxious thinking and everything I know flies right out the window These are the things that were bugging me:
My daughters are going back to school in a few days. I have been feeling a mixture of emotions about this:
- Relief– I always feel better emotionally when they are in school and I can have more time to myself
- Guilt – that I want them to go back to school. They are growing up so fast- why do I need so much time to myself- am I a bad mother?
- Sadness– For feeling like I wished a lot of the summer away.
- Weirdness– the change of seasons always bothers me- almost like it is a blaring reminder of the passage of time.
By the ripe hour of 4:30 am I was done wrestling with these thoughts. In an effort to reduce my anxiety I gave up trying to asleep altogether- which was only making it worse…
Earlier today, a friend told me about a wonderful grounding exercise to reduce anxiety that her therapist taught her. I thought it was fantastic and couldn’t wait to share it with you. Too bad I didn’t have this last night 😉
Grounding Exercise to Reduce Anxiety
First, you identify that you are overwhelmed with anxiety. Anxiety can be sneaky so you might have to do a little detective work to figure out that you are in a high anxiety state. You may notice physical signs, such as feeling uneasy in the pit of your stomach, or that heart is racing, or that your breathing is “off” (too fast, can’t take a deep breath, that kind of thing). Or you might actually know that you are worrying or obsessing over something.
Last night I felt like I needed to be peeled off the ceiling. So this would be a major clue that I needed to ground myself because my anxiety was too high.
So try to tune into your body and listen to what it is telling you: Are you feeling yucky? Is your mind racing? Are you trapped in a cycle of worry? Do you feel like you’re going to jump out of your skin?
Once you have identified that you feel like crap or are stuck in a cycle of endless worry: you are now going to turn your attention inwards– not to your mind (you can’t out think or reason with high anxiety, so don’t even try), but to your physical body. Remind yourself not to rush.
Notice your body where it is right now. You are going to ground yourself. Place both feet on the floor, and feel them, really feel their connection to the earth.
Focus on your feet and their connectedness to the earth. Try to imagine them rooting you deeply to the ground. if it helps, you can try to imaging grounding, healing energy shooting out of the bottoms of your feet and going deep into the ground. You can also imagine you are growing roots out of the soles of your feet, just like a mighty oak tree.
Know that grounding naturally reduces anxiety, in the same way that en electric charge dissipates right into the ground.
With feet on the floor and your attention on your feet, do diaphragmatic breathing. Take slow, slow, deep cleansing breaths, first breathing in and filling up your belly, and then fully exhaling, allowing all the air to empty completely from your body.
Your focus is on 2 things only- your connection to the ground, and your breathing. Know that taking slow, deep, cleansing breaths roots you even more firmly to the ground. You are safely and securely rooted to the ground.
Once you have a nice slow diaphragmatic breathing pattern going, you are now going to bring all your senses into your feet and make a strong connection with them. Really try to notice and feel your feet:
Bring your attention to the soles of your feet, from the bottom of your toes, to your arch, all the way to your heel. Now focus on your toes, one by one. Big toe, second toe, third, forth, baby toe. Now focus on in between your toes, now the tops of your feet, now your inner ankles, now your outer ankles, now your heel.
Notice if they feel warm or cold. Now go inside your feet and really try to feel your blood circulating through them. Feel the very life force in your feet.
Keep doing this for a few minutes if possible. The longer you ground yourself, the more you will reduce anxiety. Do this until you feel just a little bit calmer. Even if you can slow down and allow yourself do this grounding exercise for one full minute, you will reduce your anxiety from a catastrophic level to at least a few notches down.
Why does this grounding exercise reduce anxiety?
As I stated above, you can’t out think anxiety. If you are worried obsessively about something, you won’t really be able to think your way out of it. Anxiety is not rational. By focusing on something that reduces the stress response, you are breaking the pattern of anxious thoughts, and getting all the benefits of feel good hormones in the process. So it’s like delivering a one two punch to knock out the anxiety. You are focused on feeling, feeling your feet, feeling your breathing. Make sense?
Grounding exercises are good not only to reduce anxiety- they are used by some practitioners to manage chronic pain, such as headaches and back pain. So while this might sound too simple, it really is effective, and there is science to back it up. Cool, right? 😉
So remember- (and note to self): Next time you am tossing and turning because you can’t shut off the racing thoughts- day or night- remember that you can reduce anxiety with this wonderful and simple grounding exercise.
I wish you peace,
ps.- If you feel chronically overwhelmed and unable to break your obsessive worry pattern, here is a self hypnosis download that can help: Stop Feeling Overwhelmed (use alone or in conjunction with the grounding exercise above).